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Posts Tagged ‘Gardening activities’

Gardening with Your Children

Even as an adult, I am awed by watching seeds germinate. I check my pots every morning in case a squash plant has grown an inch overnight.

As you begin your spring planting this year, plan ways to include your children. They will also be amazed by how seeds Boy Gardeninggrow into plants. You can talk about life cycles, nutrition and the environment. This helps them learn concepts in science, but you can also help them learn about math, language and other subjects.  Some specific examples of these lessons include the following:

Let them get dirty.

Let your children play in the dirt, especially if they are under three years old. It is important for children to explore the texture of the soil and the plants. They will learn how to mold soil, to change its shape and volume and to contain a mess within a safe space for free exploration. These types of hands-on experiences help children make concrete connections to words and experiences.  Sensory based play and exploration will cultivate your children’s physical development, especially the important small muscles in their hands and the tendons in their fingers.

Teach them how to nurture.

Your children will love taking care of plants and watching them grow. Preschool age children enjoy jobs that create a sense of responsibility.  Working in a garden helps them see the fruits of their efforts, leading to a sense of pride and accomplishment. Talk to your children about the needs of the plants including food, water and sunlight. For children who are three years old and older, you can begin a conversation that compares what plants and people need to live. Your children can learn fundamental social and emotional skills like empathy, communication, cooperation and learn to identify and express feelings while gardening.

Incorporate math.

While gardening, your children can learn fundamental math skills like patterns, sequences and numeracy. Consider the following activities.

  • Patterns
    You can plan the garden with your children by grouping similar seeds together. You can plant the vegetables in rows or you can plant the flowers by color. Once the garden is growing, you can help your children to notice patterns by asking questions like these: “Which plants have thick stems? Which have thin stems?” and “How are these two plants the same?”
  • Sequences
    Track the growth of plants with your children over time. Ask them questions about the order in which parts of the plants grow. You can ask, “Which leaves grow first?” or “What grows before the flower blooms?”
  • Numeracy
    While observing your garden, ask your children to count the different parts of a plant as it grows. For example, you might ask, “How many leaves are there now?” Model and use comparison words like bigger, more than and faster.  Measure the plants with your children and talk about how much they are growing.  You can graph the height of plants over time together. Clear flowerpots can let you observe and measure the growth of roots, too.

Develop literacy.

Always engage in conversations with your children. Read books about gardens and teach them new words about plants. Teach them the language necessary to speak about how plants grow. Ask open-ended questions like “What do you see happening?” or “What do you think the garden will look like next week?” to encourage them to think and communicate about their surroundings. Use a photo album or a three-ring binder with page protectors to create a book about your gardening experiences.  You can review past experiences and encourage verbal and written language skills by reading it together. Your children can also use their creative skills to draw illustrations and decorate the cover.

At the end of the summer, we hope that you will have a beautiful garden and an enthusiastic, blooming gardener.

Family Gardening

The Goddard School piques children’s curiosity with gardening.Add Media

Children are fascinated with nature and the simple pleasures of smelling flowers, picking vegetables and studying insects. Gardening is a fun outdoor activity that teaches patience and responsibility, environmental awareness and, more importantly, builds self esteem. Whether you live on a farm, in the suburbs, or even in the city, you can introduce your child to gardening.

Children as young as two years old can certainly help with gardening tasks like digging, planting, and watering. With a little help from Mom and Dad, an older child can be involved in planning, planting and taking care of their own garden space or window box.

Here are a few more things to do at home with the kids to pique their curiosity:

  • Plant things children like to eat – such as veggies they like on pizza or in a salad — or create your own salsa using tomatoes you’ve grown.
  • Let your child help you tend to existing plantings.
  • Give them a small spot of their own where they can help plan and create a small garden. Help them decide if they will plant flowers, vegetables or both.
  • Make a scarecrow to deter pests, or plant daisies and petunias to attract butterflies.

Be sure to set aside special time for gardening, but keep sessions brief. Frequent activity changes, such as planting, watering, mulching, weeding and harvesting will help keep children engaged. Allow plenty of time for catching toads, gathering bouquets of dandelions or planting the seeds from yesterday’s snack of fresh watermelon.