The Secret Garden Lesson Plans

In the classic novel The Secret Garden, two unlikable children, Mary and Colin, overcome their contrary ways on the mysterious grounds of their Yorkshire mansion. It's a great story for students about friendship, family, and willpower.

Student Activities for The Secret Garden

Essential Questions for The Secret Garden

  1. Why is family important - especially for children?
  2. What is magic?
  3. What is willpower?
  4. How does your thinking have an effect on what happens around you?

The Secret Garden Summary

Mary Lennox, an ornery, unlikable child, is sent to live with her uncle, Mr. Craven, in Misselthwaite Manor. She is placed under the loose care of a young housemaid named Martha. At first Mary continues her disagreeable character, but after spending some time in the estate’s gardens, she begins to change. Mary learns to be curious and play in the gardens making friends with Ben Weatherstaff, a gardener, and a red robin.

Martha shares stories with Mary about her large family living in a cottage. Mary likes Martha’s stories and is especially fond of her mother Mrs. Sowerby, and Dickon, a twelve year old boy who befriends the wildlife.

Mary also learns about a garden that has been locked up for ten years; Mr. Craven and his wife loved the garden and would spend hours inside it. When she died, Mr. Craven had it locked up and the key buried. Mary is quite curious about the secret garden and with the help of the robin, she finds the key and the hidden door. Inside, Mary secretly begins weeding hoping that the roses will still be alive after ten years of abandonment.

One night, inside the Yorkshire mansion, Mary hears the sound of someone crying. She discovers Colin Craven, an ill-tempered ten year old boy who believes he is going to die. Colin and Mary get along much to the surprise of everyone else in the house. The two eat together, read books, and share stories of the secret garden and Dickon.

After sharing the story of the secret garden with Colin, it is decided that he will venture out and Dickon will be his escort. From then on, Colin, Mary, and Dickon visit the secret garden every day and even let old Ben Weatherstaff in on their secret. Colin experiments with Magic and first stands, then walks, and finally is able to run and exercise like a regular boy. He keeps these new abilities a secret from the servants and Dr. Craven, until he is able to surprise his father himself.

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How To Explain The Secret Garden to Special Students


Give Gentle Introductions

Start off by giving a succinct synopsis of "The Secret Garden." Mention that the book is about Mary Lennox, a little girl, and how she discovers a hidden garden, which changes her life. Give off a soft introduction and avoid giving too many details at the start as it can cause information overload.


Use Multimedia To Support Learning

Teachers can include several learning methods in the study plans such as showing student-friendly videos or presumed pictures of the garden and the characters. Teachers can also create a storyboard for the students to learn and understand with the help of pictures.


Include Sensory Explanations

Use a variety of senses when discussing the story. Describe the sensations the garden evokes in terms of views, sounds, and feelings. Mention the rich hues, the floral aroma, and the texture of the earth, for example. Students may learn and understand better with the help of their imagination.


Work at Students’ Pace

Adapt the lesson plans according to the learning pace of the students. Teachers should provide learning freedom and flexibility to students in order for them to perform effectively in classes. Students might have different levels of proficiency and understanding which can impact their learning abilities. Teachers can create a safe environment for all the students and customize the lesson plans.


Promote and Guide Interaction

Give the students the chance to voice their concerns or ask questions regarding the narrative. This encourages participation and enables you to address any particular interests or concerns. Encourage curiosity in students and answer their queries in a polite and friendly manner so they do not hesitate to ask questions.

Frequently Asked Questions About The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

What role does the secret garden play in the narrative?

Since all the characters in the narrative require some sort of healing, the secret garden serves as a metaphor which highlights the similar issues experienced by the characters present in the story. Mary, Colin, and Colin's father, Archibald, are among the characters who experience personal development and transformation as the garden is revived and brought back to life.

How does "The Secret Garden" depict nature's capacity for healing?

The garden is a potent representation of nature's restorative and healing powers. It is evident in the garden's transition from a neglected, overgrown area to a lively, flourishing refuge as Mary, Colin, and the garden as a whole go through changes. The children and adults in the story are all either physically or mentally ill and require healing which comes in the form of reviving the old locked-down secret garden.

Image Attributions
  • Bulbs • tjmwatson • License Attribution (
  • Ilkley Moor • Tim Green aka atoach • License Attribution (
  • Stubborn goat • quinet • License Attribution (
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