Art & Sculpture



Academic Essays



Cultural Gardens in Historical Context

Katie Anderson

Wiley Middle School

8th Grade American History Teacher



Day One (40 minutes)

1.      Objective 1 (see above)

2.      Activities:

  1. Students will engage in an on-line scavenger hunt in order to explore the Cleveland Cultural Gardens website.
  2. Teacher will lead a discussion on the findings of the students’ search.  Then, teacher will give a brief overview of the history of the gardens. (Needed information is found in the background essay.)

3.      Materials:  Computer access; Scavenger hunt question sheet

4.      Assessment:  Completion of the hunt; Participation in the discussion

Day Two (40 minutes)

1.      Objective 2

2.      Activities:

  1. I will use my own Lithuanian heritage to engage students.  I will show photographs of my Lithuanian relatives and give anecdotal stories of our family history.  (Teacher really could do this with any family ethnicity.)
  2. Teacher will use a Power Point presentation (attached) to give an overview of the history of Lithuania.  Information from the background essay will be used.
  3. Teacher will then use the rest of the Power Point presentation to show students the design and history of the Lithuanian garden. 
  4. If time, discuss how the community used the gardens over the past 70 years.
  5. Encourage students to ask parents about their own family history.

3.      Materials:  Family photos; Power Point presentation and projector.

4.      Assessment:  Students will be formally assessed on Day 4.

Day Three (40-60 minutes)

1.      Objective 3

2.      Activities: 

  1. Briefly discuss what the students learned about their own family histories last night. Then, ask students why they don’t think there is an African-American garden.
  2. Give students a very brief overview of the history of the garden.  Do not go into depth about any of the information in their articles.  Discuss just enough to give a context for their readings. 
  3. Break students up into four groups.  Give each member of the group the same article to read.  The four articles you will hand out include:

1995 Plain Dealer Magazine article, “Pride and Prejudice”

1985 Plain Dealer article, “Black pride, stick-to-itness keep Glenville coast golden”

1976 Plain Dealer article, “One World:  Afro-American, Indian Cultural Gardens Hailed”

1966 Plain Dealer article,  “Cultural Gardens Vandals Hit”

d.      Each group will do a brief presentation explaining their article to the rest of the class.  Students will present in chronological order. 

e.       Finally, ask the students if they see a need for an African-American garden.  After they answer, tell them they are going to create one!

3.       Materials:  Photocopies of all 4 articles, Photographs from articles enlarged or projected.

4.      Assessment:  Group presentations; Accuracy of summation.

Day Four

1.      Objective 4

2.      Activities:

a.       Students will be given their project criteria, which include designing their own African-American garden.  Students may work alone or in pairs.  Students will need to create a design with:

¨      A drawing of 3-5 individuals to be memorialized and the rationale for why they should be included.

¨      An overall shape of the gardens and a rationale for why they chose that shape.

¨      Use of some kind of stone in their design.

¨      At least one kind of organic material/plant/tree and rationale.

¨      An invitation to the dedication ceremony, including who will speak at it.

(Note:  Students may create their design on computers or they may sketch it on a large posterboard with rationale written on index cards or additional report.)

3.      Materials:  Criteria lists; Example project: Large paper or posterboard, and markers

4.      Assessment:  Students will be graded on their final project according to the criteria given above with rubric.

Day Five (after several work days/homework days)

1.      Objective 4 (con’t)

2.      Activities:

  1. Students will present their projects to each other. 
  2. Audience will ask pertinent questions for clarification.

3.      Materials:  Any projection materials students need; Evaluation forms

4.      Assessment:  Students will be formally graded on their final project according to given criteria. 


1.      Take students to gardens to explore all of the different cultural artifacts.

2.      Have students write letters to the Plain Dealer about the need for an African-American garden and include their proposals.

3.      Have the students create a personal identity garden.  Who would be your most influential statues?  What would you plant?  What shape would your garden be in?


Andrzejewski, Tom.  “Black pride, stick-to-itness keep Glenville coast golden.”  The Plain Dealer, July 10, 1985.

Bodnar, John.  The Transplanted. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1985.

Cadzow, John F. “Lithuanian Americans and Their Community of Cleveland.”  Cleveland Ethnic Heritage Studies. Cleveland:  Cleveland State University, 1978.

Dolgan, Robert.  “One world:  Afro-American, Indian cultural gardens hailed.”  The Plain Dealer, July 19, 1976.

Drexler, Madeline.  “Pride and Prejudice.”  The Plain Dealer Magazine.  August 11, 1985.

Goldberg, David J.  Discontented America.  Baltimore:  Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

Hammack, David, et al.  Identity, Conflict, and Cooperation.  Cleveland:  Western

Reserve Historical Society, 2002.

Mihal, John.  “Lithuanians’ Garden Tells History of Nation.”  The Plain Dealer.  Sept 14, 1937.

Loveland, Roelif.  “Just Plain Soil Welds People of 28 Nations.”  The Plain Dealer.  July 31, 1939.

Ruksenas, Algis.  “Lithuanians.”  The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.

Tebeau, Mark.  “Sculpted Places:  Identity, Community, and the Cleveland Cultural Gardens.”  Cleveland State University, 2005.

Unknown. “Cultural Gardens Vandals Hit” The Plain Dealer, Sept 9, 1966.