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How to Teach Preschoolers about Plants and Gardening

Gardening Activities for Kids | Gryphon House

What’s something outdoorsy, fun, and educational that you and your child can do most of the year? Gardening! Gardening is a wonderful hands-on way to teach children about nature. Kids can learn how plants grow, what plants need to grow, and how to take care of them; all while making memories with you! Children can watch the seeds they planted grow over time. This lets them see how their hard work is paying off, and rewards them with beautiful flowers or tasty vegetables at the end.

There are thousands of gardening activities for kids out there. Different flowers can be planted in the spring, summer, or autumn, and in winter, indoor plant activities can keep the gardening going. Mary B. Rein’s book The Budding Gardener lists dozens of “gardening for kids” activities—from themed gardens to indoor plant projects—all while teaching kids about the science of plants. Below are a few activities to try.


A Greenhouse in My House

This activity will demonstrate how plants grow best in hot, damp environments.

What You’ll Need:

  • Clear plastic bags big enough to house each plant
  • Seedlings in pots
  • 12” sticks to support the tops of the bags

What to Do:

  1. Talk about greenhouses and how they help plants grow by being warm and humid. If there is a greenhouse in your neighborhood, take a field trip to see it at work!
  2. Make your own mini-greenhouses by watering seedlings in their pots and letting them drain. Then insert two or three sticks in each pot and put each pot in a clear plastic bag. Blow some air into the bag to make sure the plastic is away from the plant. Tie the bag so that it is well-sealed.
  3. For comparison, leave a few plants uncovered and see which ones grow better.
  4. Over time, point out the condensation on the bags to your child. Perhaps discuss the water cycle and how plants use water. Then compare the covered and uncovered plants. Which is growing faster? Why do you think that is?
  5. When the plants get too crowded, remove the bags and add them to your garden outside!


Hummingbird Garden

This activity will allow demonstrate how some animals use flowers as food sources, the same way humans use vegetables.

What You’ll Need:

  • A sunny garden spot or window box
  • Flowers that attract hummingbirds
  • A shovel, trowel, and other gardening tools
  • Water

What to Do:

  1. Read about hummingbirds and how they eat the nectar of certain flowers. What kind of flowers do they like and why?
  2. Select an area for your hummingbird garden. It should be in a sunny spot, but the size is up to you!
  3. Visit the local garden shop to look for flowers hummingbirds will be attracted to. Later, plant the flowers in your selected spot and take care of them.
  4. Watch for any hummingbirds. Be patient; it may take the birds awhile to find your new garden.
  5. Watch how hummingbirds get the nectar out of the flowers and talk about it with your child.


Homemade Worm Farm

This activity will give children a chance to learn about the role worms play in gardening.

What You’ll Need:

  • A large round, clear container with a lid
  • A smaller round container that will fit inside the larger one
  • A metal skewer or screwdriver
  • Black construction paper
  • Dry oatmeal
  • Soil
  • Sand
  • A shovel
  • A small container with a spray lid
  • Tape
  • A trowel
  • Water
  • Worms

What to Do:

  1. Discuss with your child how worms turn up soil and help plant roots get through. Emphasize their importance to gardening.
  2. Find a place where you can dig up rich dirt without disturbing other plants.
  3. Buy some worms, or dig some up from your yard. You will need about 25.
  4. Poke holes in the large container lid with the screwdriver.
  5. Center the small container inside the larger container.
  6. Fill the space around the small container with 1” of moist soil. Make sure no dirt gets under the small container! Sprinkle a teaspoon of the oatmeal over the soil and then cover with ½” of damp sand. Repeat the pattern until you are 2” from the top of the container, the top layer being soil.
  7. Gently add the worms and watch them wriggle into the soil. Lightly spray the top area with water.
  8. Put the lid on top of the worm farm. Press down to create a seal. Be careful you don’t squish any worms!
  9. Tape black construction paper around the farm so that it will be dark and place the farm in a cool, shady place.
  10. Every few days, remove the paper and observe your warms. Add a sprinkle of oatmeal once a week.
  11. Keep the worms in your farm for two weeks and then release them into your garden!

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