Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Governor's Garden

Janet Greathouse
Bay District Schools


The governor is planning to hire a landscape artist to design six polygonal gardens for the estate. Students create sketches of their plans and write an expository paragraph detailing their designs as part of the interview process for the job.


The student creates expository responses in which ideas and details follow an organizational pattern and are relevant to the purpose.

The student given a verbal description, draws and/or models two- and three-dimensional shapes and uses appropriate geometric vocabulary to write a description of a figure or a picture composed of geometric figures.

The student understands the concepts of spatial relationships, symmetry, reflections, congruency, and similarity.


-White paper (12- x 18-) one sheet per student
-Notebook paper
-Copies of Checklist for Governor's Garden for each student (see Associated File)
-Computers with Internet access (optional)


1. Gather design materials: white paper, crayons
2. Copy checklists for peer-, self-, and final assessments
3. Check computer connectivity and ability to present the governor's mansion via the Internet


Background: This is a cumulative activity to assess students' understanding of two-dimensional polygons and symmetry. Students need to understand the elements of expository paragraphs to complete this lesson successfully (see Assessment section for specific criteria to be addressed).

1. Review with students the types of polygons studied and generate several examples of each (triangles, various quadrilaterals, pentagons, hexagons, octagons, and decagons). Briefly review the horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines of symmetry present in these shapes.

2. Begin simulation activity: Tell students that the governor is seeking to hire a landscape artist to design six polygonal gardens for the estate. (If capable, view the governor's mansion via the Internet. Florida teachers may access the governor's estate at and tour the grounds.)

3. Explain that the students will assume the role of a landscape artist interviewing for the job. The governor expects to see the design plans for the gardens, as well as a written paragraph explaining the design elements of the garden and other special features planned by the artist.

4. List and discuss the following criteria for the design plan:
a) The governor's mansion must be in the center of the plans.
b) Six different polygonal gardens (a triangle, one quadrilateral, a pentagon, a hexagon, an octagon, and a decagon) must be planned around the mansion.
c) Each polygonal garden should include a different set of plants and flowers. (If necessary, brainstorm types of plants and flowers indigenous to the state. The website mentioned above lists the native plants found on the grounds of the estate.)
d) At least three of the polygonal gardens should contain lines of symmetry. Symmetry will be determined by the arrangement of plants and flowers within the polygon.
e) The polygonal gardens need to be colored and labeled to identify the polygon, plants, and flowers being used. Labels may be on the design itself, or they may be explained in a key at the bottom of the page.
f) The final plan should be titled in the top center of the page and signed in the bottom right-hand corner by the artist.
g) Additional features (cobblestone paths, gazebos, etc.) to enhance the plan are allowed and encouraged.

5. Allow students time to sketch initial ideas on pieces of notebook paper. Students should self-assess their plans and have a partner check them for proper identification of polygons and symmetry. (Students may peer- and self-assess their designs using the Checklist for Governor's Garden.) Plans may be revised and adjusted as needed.

6. Students present revised plans to the teacher and receive the large white 12- x 18- paper. Designs are transferred, colored, and labeled according to the artist's plan.

7. Finished designs are described in an expository paragraph written on a clean sheet of notebook paper and attached (glued or taped) to the back of the design. Paragraphs should follow a logical organizational pattern which includes a:
a) beginning (topic sentence introducing their plan)
b) middle (detail sentences describing the properties and attributes of polygons used and what makes selected gardens symmetrical)
c) an ending (concluding sentence summarizing the merits of their plan).
Paragraphs should be self- and peer-assessed using the Checklist for Governor's Garden, and then revised before submitting for final review.


Teacher will assess the finished product using the Checklist for Governor's Garden

Design Plans should contain:
____ Six different polygons (36 points)
____ Three symmetrical gardens (24 points)
____ Six different sets of plants and flowers (12 points)
____ Key or labels correctly identifying polygons (12 points)
____ Key or labels correctly identifying plants and flowers (6 points)
____ Governor's mansion in center (5 points)
____ Title centered and appropriate (5 points)
____ Total (100 points)
NOTE: This grade will be counted TWICE in the overall project grade.

Written paragraphs should include:
____ Beginning (10 points)
The topic sentence sets a clear focus and purpose for the paragraph.

____ Middle (70 points)
The detail sentences 1) name the six polygons and describe the types of lines and angles used to create these shapes, 2) identify and explain the lines of symmetry used in three of the gardens, 3) describe any special features added by the artist.*

____ End (10 points)
The concluding sentence gives the reader an overall picture of the design plan and its special features.

____ Focus (10 points)
The paragraph maintains the focus without repeating information or including unimportant information.

____ Development of Ideas (10 points)
Related facts and information are used to support the ideas presented in the paragraph.

*NOTE: There are 110 possible points which allows students to earn extra credit for explaining special features that were added to enhance their design plans.


Possible extensions:

1) The Beacon Learning Center offers online student lessons exploring polygons and symmetry that could be accessed for review. Check out Pete's Polygon Picture and Let's Learn Symmetry.

2) After completing their designs and paragaphs, students role play the interview process with the governor. Students present persuasive speeches to the interview team (the class) explaining why their plans should be chosen by the governor.

Web Links

Web supplement for Governor's Garden
Welcome to the Florida Governor's Mansion

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