Grow with Goddard: Early Childhood Activities for Spring

Spring is a season of growth, and flowers, trees and so many other things are blossoming, blooming and growing. Not unlike spring, your children are constantly evolving, growing and blooming. Enjoy these activities with your children to observe and explore the growth all around you.

SENSORY GARDENS – Infant

For your youngest gardeners, think about growing plants that can be discovered with all five senses. Sensory gardens are not just meant for visual pleasure: they are meant to be touched, smelled and even tasted. Whether you have the space to create a sensory garden in a garden plot or you decide to plant a few sensory garden plants in a pot, you and your child will enjoy exploring with all your senses. Infants are sensory focused, so this would be a wonderful project for you and your baby.

Materials 

  • Dirt
  • Planter or pot
  • Water
  • Plant seeds
    • Lamb’s Ear has velvety, thick leaves that are extremely soft to the touch and great for exploring with your hands.
    • Basil grows fast and can be used in many food preparations.
    • Mint is very fragrant and can be added to water for a refreshing splash.
    • Pineapple Sage has aromatic leaves that can be crushed or crumbled to release a sweet pineapple-like smell.
    • Stevia is perfect for those who want to explore with their sense of taste. This plant is often referred to as “sweet leaf” because of its sweet taste.

Steps

  1. Think about your space. Will you plant something inside a container or in a garden bed? You don’t need a large space or container; a simple pot will work. You may also want to think creatively and use an upcycled item, such as a rain boot or soda bottle.
  2. Consult your favorite search engine as well as a local garden center if you are looking for the plants above. Garden centers will also have ideas for more options.
  3. Once your sensory garden is created, enjoy taking care of it and exploring it with your little one. Take pictures of the process from when the plants sprout to when they are grown, and photograph how your child responds to the garden.

Things to Look For

How does your child respond to the sensory garden? Does your child gravitate toward the plants or the dirt? Which senses does your child tend to use most often? Does your child use all of them equally?

PLANT PEOPLE – Toddler to Preschool

These homemade plant people will be a fun way to demonstrate growth in a fast way with some new plant family members. Toddlers through school-age children will be able to enjoy this activity and participate in their own way.

Materials

  • Pair of nylon socks or hosiery.
  • Potting soil.
  • Grass seeds.
  • A variety of craft supplies, such as eyes, buttons or colored fabric.
  • Glue gun or craft glue.

Steps

  1. Decorate the nylon sock or hosiery with the craft materials.
  2. While the decorations set, mix the soil with the grass seeds. This is great for little hands, including the hands of older infants and toddlers.
  3. Scoop the mixture of soil and seeds into the nylon sock or hosiery.
  4. Set this up in a plant holder or put it in a place where it is supported and can be watered.
  5. Water the sock and let the grass grow. Check when to water it again.
  6. Take pictures to document for growth for two months.
  7. Share your photos on Facebook and Instagram using #GrowWtihGoddard

Parent Prompts to Promote Growth

  1. Encourage your child to make a plant person. Once it has been created, place it in a window or area that will receive at least some natural light throughout the day. Have your child help you select a spot.
  2. During the first week, water your “person” every few days. The soil should be moist but not soaking wet. Check for initial signs of growth.
  3. In week two, observe for signs of growth with your child. Take pictures with your child to show the growth of the plants. During week two, you should see plenty of growth.
  4. In week three, see whether your plant person or family needs a visit to the salon! With your supervision and child-safe scissors, cut the person’s hair as you choose.
  5. Take a photo to document your project!

TERRARIUMS – Pre-K through School Age

What exactly is a terrarium?  A terrarium is a garden grown inside a clear plastic or glass “house.”  It is a low-cost and low-maintenance way for you to incorporate plants into your home and teach your children concepts like condensation, evaporation and precipitation.  You can use a variety of recyclable materials, including clear plastic containers, to create one!

Materials 

  • An enclosed container – think about those recyclable materials, such as plastic bottles.
  • Pea gravel or small rocks.
  • Potting soil.
  • Small indoor or tropical plants.
  • Spray bottle.

Steps

  1. Clean a large plastic bottle. For example, awill work perfectly.
  2. Cut the bottle open at the top to create a large opening so you can reach into the bottle.
  3. Add pea gravel or small rocks on the bottom.
  4. Add enough soil for the seeds or small plants to be planted.
  5. Water them according to the seed packet or plant instructions.
  6. Take pictures of the bottle the first day, and continue to take pictures and check for growth for two months.
  7. Share your photos on Facebook and Instagram using #GrowWtihGoddard

Things to Look For

What types of questions and comments is your child asking? A terrarium is essentially a self-contained garden, and your child may have lots of questions along with exciting observations.  Simply put, the plants and the soil release water vapor. That vapor condenses or collects on the walls of the container and then trickles down into the soil. Your child may notice the water condensation on the sides of the container, especially when the terrarium is placed in the sun. You will be able to engage in much more involved conversations than this if you and your child are ready to become deeply involved in the conversation. Adapt it to your child’s interests and developmental level.

WHAT DO YOU SEE? – Any Age

This activity starts with noticing and discovering what is happening outside and ends with artistic representation. Explore the great outdoors with your child, and then reflect upon and represent what you observed with art. This activity will be based on multiple visits outside, and each time your child will create another art project to represent the journey.

Materials 

  • A variety of art materials, paper, markers or paints.
  • Natural items found outdoors.

Steps 

  1. While outside, talk about the things you see. Use a camera to photograph or capture a brief video of what you see with your child. Collect items from your garden, such as a flower or vegetable.
  2. Once you return indoors, reflect on your photos together or the artifacts you collected.
  3. Encourage your child to create a visual representation of what he or she saw. This is not about being able to draw a perfect sunflower. It’s about providing the time, space, materials and inspiration to represent what your child noticed outside.
  4. Share your photos on Facebook and Instagram using #GrowWtihGoddard

Things to Look For

What did your child observe? How did your child represent what he or she saw outside? To extend this activity, ask your child to tell a story about the artwork and document the story. For example, your toddler may look at the sunflower on your table and make a lot of yellow and orange handprints on paper. Honor the process and your child’s interpretation. Engaging in this activity multiple times and observing how nature changes and grows, which will be reflected in the photos and the artwork, will create an ongoing opportunity for growth and observation in all ways.