Enjoy the nice weather by getting out in the garden with the children in your care this spring! Preschoolers can learn so much from gardening, whether it’s the fine motor skills acquired from picking up tiny seeds or the gross motor skills developed through watering plants. However, instead of simply introducing you to gardening with your little one, we wanted to put a spin on it and introduce gardening in a whole new way! Get ready for Theme Gardens inspired by Kathy Lee and Lesli Richards' "The Homegrown Preschooler."
-For this special garden, you’ll be wetting cotton in the bottom of an empty fishbowl (make sure the excess water is poured out).
- Sprinkle the cotton with snap pea seeds
- Make sure the top is covered with plastic wrap and secured by rubber bands
- Place the bowl or vase near a window so it gets plenty of light
- The seeds will sprout vines and climb the side of the bowl or vase
-Extra: throw in some jungle toys, like a barrel full of monkies and read “The Jungle Book” with your little one.
-Do your kids love pizza? Then they’ll love growing the ingredients to make their own!
- Plant onions, tomatoes, peppers, parsley, oregano, and basil in either a small bed or small containers outdoors.
- Once grown, children can help in the kitchen to sprinkle ingredients over unbaked pizza dough before putting it in the oven to cook and enjoy!
-Do your preschoolers love tea parties? Wouldn’t it be even more exciting for them to know their tea was a result of their own hard work? Gardening is a great way to teach children routine as they are responsible for watering and weeding daily.
- With the tea garden, children grow peppermint, lavender, lemon verbena, rose hips, bergamot, marjoram, chamomile, jasmine, coriander, thyme, violet, rosemary, and stevia.
- Check with your local garden center to see which plants grow best in your area.
-Extra: You can even make your own tea bags by stitching them out of rectangles cut from coffee filters!
-Learning about the caterpillar to butterfly cycle is always fun. But letting children see it come to life by creating their own Butterfly Garden will add something special to the lesson.
- Research the different types of caterpillars that live in your area and find out what plants they are attracted to. In general, the majority of butterflies love heliotrope, Queen Anne’s lace, sweet William, asters, coreopsis, coneflower, butterfly bush, nasturtium, and oregano.
- Plant your chosen flowers and prepare to identify your winged visitors!
-“The Budding Gardener” is a great resource that offers plenty of suggestions on how to get your children learning outdoors as they understand the importance of going green. One of the many inspiring ideas suggested is series of plants to represent the five senses:
- Touch: Explore different textures with lamb’s ear (silky soft), silver sage (wooly), and teasel (spiny).
- Taste: Identify edible plants for your child to experience after they are grown, ideas include peas, nasturtium, swiss chard, and mint.
- Smell: There is an array of plants that smell wonderful. Suggested plants would be honeysuckle, lavender, rose, peppermint, thyme, sage, chamomile, and lemon balm.
- Sight: The majority of flowers are displays of intricate beauty, but to really have your preschooler’s eyes popping, try out giant sunflowers, poppy, zinnia, marigold, purple sage, and verbena.
- Sound: Hear the rustle and whistle of rattlesnake grass, bamboo, and love-in-a-mist.
-Extra: Bring arts and crafts into the mix by having children create plant signs and stakes, designating where each sense is represented. -Did you enjoy making Theme Gardens? Find all of the ideas above and more in The Homegrown Preschooler, a great resource on how to teach children in the places they live. -Don’t forget, if you want to dive in and get your preschoolers gardening, you can sign up for our weekly book giveaway for a chance to win “The Budding Gardener.” Enter here.