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Posts Tagged ‘Gardening’

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.

Five Ways to Encourage Environmental Responsibility

Conserving the environment is a priority, and helping to foster an eco-friendly mindset in children is more important than ever. Here are five ways to encourage environmental responsibility.

  1. Teach your children to garden. Gardening is an excellent way to teach your twenty20_89c7a32e-5c1e-4530-983f-92f78ca380a3child some basics of biology, such as how the sun helps plants grow, how plants produce oxygen through photosynthesis and how vegetation contributes to a healthy environment.
  2. Enjoy some fun outdoor activities. Creating a wildflower scrapbook or going on an outdoor scavenger hunt may help your child appreciate all the beauty, wonder and fun the environment has to offer.
  3. Go for a hike. Whether you walk through the woods or just around a local park, hiking lets children experience the environment while getting some exercise. The internet can be a terrific resource for finding hiking trails close to home.
  4. Start at home. Recycling and conserving electricity and water at home with your child can go a long way toward preserving the environment. You can even make a game of counting how many different items you can recycle every week.
  5. Make something new with something old. Cardboard tubes, empty milk jugs and many other items can be given new life with a little creativity. Let your imaginations run wild and create something fun!

Five Benefits of Teaching Children to Garden

Break out the seeds and bulbs because gardening season has arrived! Here are five benefits of showing your children how to garden.

  1. Gets children outside and active. Digging, planting and watering on a sunny afternoon are _72O8441_terrific ways to get some exercise while enjoying the beautiful weather.
  2. Children learn about science and the environment. This is an excellent opportunity to teach your child some basics of biology, such as how the sun helps plants to grow, how plants produce oxygen through photosynthesis and how vegetation contributes to a healthy environment.
  3. Teaches children how vegetables and fruits grow. Growing fruits and vegetables gives your child a look into small-scale farming and may encourage an appreciation for the process that brings produce to grocery stores.
  4. Encourages healthy eating. Planting a vegetable garden can lead to healthier meal times because children are more likely to try vegetables they have grown and veggies usually taste better when they are fresh from the garden.
  5. Inspires responsibility and a strong work ethic. Maintaining a garden can help children understand what the rewards of hard work are and how taking care of something requires diligence and persistence.

Gardening with Young Children

Teaching your child how to garden is a fun, hands-on learning experience that encourages patience, imagination and environmental awareness.  The best part about learning to garden is that it’s something your family can enjoy together, indoors or out!

Before you begin, talk with your child about the whole gardening process to peak their interest and help them become excited about the experience.  You could also pick up a children’s book about gardening or visit a children’s gardening Web site.

When you’re ready to start, gather a few supplies and child-appropriate tools—soil, seed cups, watering cans, etc.  Take a trip to the garden center together to pick out your supplies and seeds or seedlings for planting.  Some great plants for children to start their gardening experience with include sunflowers, snow peas, cherry tomatoes and strawberries. Read seed packets and plant tags—anything with easy care and a short growing season are perfect for little ones to plant! Be sure to acknowledge that some non-edible plants can be poisonous.  Check the National Capital Poison Center Web site for a list of some poisonous plants and always supervise your child while gardening.

Now that it’s time to plant, choose your location. If you have a large garden, section off an area or, if you don’t, use an old sandbox filled with soil as your child’s own special garden. Encourage your child to care for their plants throughout the entire process—from seed, to seedling, to mature plant, to harvest. How exciting it will be when the whole family is enjoying the fruits and vegetables they raised all on their own!

How Does Your Garden Grow?

A great way to start the gardening experience is to help children see what happens when a seed is given the proper amount of light and water. Using beans and a few simple supplies, they can watch as the beans sprout roots and grow, grow, grow!

Supplies needed:

Bean seeds (any type will work)

Paper towels

Clear container (jar, cup or plastic bag)

Spray bottle filled with water

1.      Fold a paper towel and place inside the clear container.

2.      Moisten the paper towel until just damp with water.

3.      Place a few beans on the paper towel and mist lightly with water.

4.      Place the container in a sunny location.

5.      Mist lightly with water each day and watch the roots grow!

As an added activity, have your little one keep a “seed sprout journal” in which they draw pictures of their sprout as it grows. On top of experiencing science and nature, they’ll also enhance their creative and fine motor skills as they draw!

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

Eco-friendly Ways Your Family Can Sustain the Environment

Wondering how your family can make a difference and help the environment? There are simple ways to protect the planet without spending a lot of time or money. Help your children develop “green” habits now, they’ll endure over time.

Park the Car

Reduce the number of times you run errands in your car. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, between 1990 and 2001, the number of miles driven to shop increased by 40 percent – this increase is three times as fast as any other category of driving. Consolidate trips or, instead of traveling by car, walk or ride a bike to the store. Using a reusable bag will increase the impact of your efforts!

Veg Out

Growing a garden is a great way to make an environmental difference. If you are limited for space try container gardening or participate in a community garden. Even toddlers can help plant, tend and harvest. Recycling compostable garbage including potato peels and eggshells in a compost bin is an additional way to enrich your garden and respect the planet.

Save Energy at Home

You can save water immediately by taking faster showers, limiting your bath water or installing a faucet aerator in your kitchen and bathroom. Over time, replace current water fixtures and toilets with low-flow options. Shutting off the flow while you are brushing your teeth also helps save water.

When you switch from standard incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescents, you use 75% less energy. Teach your children to always turn off the light and appliances when they leave the room. Some appliances, including DVD players, use energy even when they are turned off so you need to plug them into power strips to shut-off the flow of electricity.

Goddard Schools Nationwide Launch Goddard Gets Gardening Program

Gardening has the ability to educate children about where food comes from and how healthy eating can impact a child’s life both mentally and physically. To plant this seed of knowledge among preschoolers across the country, 360-plus Goddard Schools nationwide will launch the Goddard Gets Gardening program.

Through a number of gardening-related activities, more than 40,000 children will learn about planning, planting, care-taking and harvesting an actual garden.

“Gardening is a fun activity that teaches patience and responsibility, healthy eating, environmental awareness and, more importantly, builds self esteem,” said Joseph Schumacher, Chief Executive Officer at Goddard Systems, Inc. “The Goddard Gets Gardening initiative introduces children, at an early age, to the excitement of gardening and provides an enriching and educational hands-on opportunity.”

The schools are taking their cue from Michelle Obama, who last spring planted the first White House Garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden, to promote community gardening and healthy local eating. The South Lawn plot quickly became the nation’s most high-profile garden spot.

Each Goddard School will develop a unique gardening experience, from sensory gardens that teach children about all the five senses to indoor gardens that demonstrate how easy it is to grow food inside. Whether children live on a farm, in the suburbs, or even in the city, the Goddard Gets Gardening program will encourage children to learn about sustainability, food preparation, plant identification, healthy eating and more.

Every day inside and outside the classroom, Goddard encourages children to lead a healthy lifestyle through a number of programs including yoga, dance, dramatic play, music and movement. The Goddard Gets Gardening initiative supports Goddard Systems, Inc.’s ongoing efforts and commitment to promoting children’s health.

Gardening Adventures with Your Children

Gardening - Kids & TeacherIf you want your child to grow up to be a gardener, it’s important to remember to share gardening experiences with them throughout their childhood. These include frequent, pleasurable occurrences, designs that include messy, colorful plots and great memories of working together in the garden. Each child’s capabilities and attention span will vary so it’s important to adjust your expectations. The goal is to teach your children to respect and enjoy gardening as well as experience a feeling of “I did it myself” at harvest time.

The Composting Council of Canada developed the following good reasons to foster a lifelong love of gardening in children.

  • Health: Growing your own vegetables makes it easier to get enough servings each day.
  • Exercise: Digging, turning, spreading compost, mulching, hoeing, excavating rocks – all burn calories, help build muscles and strengthen hearts and lungs.
  • Save Money: Even a small vegetable patch can reduce your expenses.
  • Education: Gardening is terrific for providing hands-on lessons in botany, zoology, weather, hydrology, as well as cycles of life, death and physical decay.
  • Waste Reduction and Recycling: Compost piles transform kitchen scraps, leaves and yard waste into rich soil amendments. Gardeners can reuse of all kinds of cans, cartoons, meat trays and more.
  • Stress Relief: Planting seeds and tending plants can restore balance and perspective.
  • Togetherness: Use vegetables grown together to make delicious meals together and donate abundance to people who need it.
  • Helps Improve Reading and Math Skills: Children can make plant markers, read seed packets and even help pay for nursery plants.
  • Memory Building: Provides great memories for the years to come.
  • Satisfaction: The more time you spend with your children in the garden, the more they will feel the garden is truly theirs and the more eager they will be to take care of it.