As we finish up our preschool year, there are several activities that I have thought about doing with the children for the summer. I have always wanted a garden. But when I think of gardening, I think lots of work and lots of time required. However, I think that it is an activity that our whole family could benefit, enjoy and learn from. While doing some research, I realize its more than gardening. It will be life long memories and valuable lessons for the children.
Gardening teaches children science, math, motor skills, reading, writing, observation skills, life skills, social skills, relaxation, quality time with family and so much more. Gardening will be lifetime benefits for the children.
Children strengthen their academic skills through gardening. Science – they learn about the plant life cycle, how they effect the environment, and about nature. Children will learn about weather and their area’s climate and bug life. They are able to use all their senses. Math – They count seeds or hills, they associate patterns, matches and pairs. (for example: we have 2 shovels – 3 people; does everyone get a shovel?) Children also can measure the out the patch or how big the plants are. Literacy – they read or are read to about gardening in books and the seed packets. Also labeling different plants and making observation books will encourage literacy skills.
Motor skills – Children use fine and gross muscles to shovel and dig, plant and harvest, weed and water and check for bugs.
Observation – Have them look at the different plants and compare. They also make sketches and or writings of what they see. (If they are younger, you can dictate for them.)
Social skills & Life skills – Gardening gets our kids away from TV and helps them learn to share and work together. They are able to get a sense of accomplishment as they work to grow a seed to a full grown plant. This sense of accomplishment helps increase their self esteem. They also may develop appreciation for nature and relate to those that work hard daily on farms. Children will enhance their sensory perception and their creativity. Gardening is also a way to teach nutrition. They are more likely to try fruits and veggies that they have worked hard to grow. Eating more fruits and vegetables will lead to better eating habits and healthier lifestyles. They could be taught the association of plant life with human life. We both have needs to live; water, food and air. Both needs weeding; sometimes in life you need to evaluate and weed out the bad influences and/or habits.
Family Time – While I have already mentioned that it assist children to learn how to share and work together, there are other benefits to this family time. It will be easy to talk to each other while watering and looking for weeds or bugs. You are able to chat and learn about each other instead of being distracted by computer, TV or other influences. You are able to learn more about them and they are able to know you. This will create even more of a bond and relationship.
to help with therapy with troubled kids and with children (and adults) with ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Stimulating the 5 senses, the outdoors, and using your muscles to work on a goal help in get the relaxation needed. Not to mention, wear out your lil one(s) so they go straight to sleep so you can sleep or enjoy a lil quiet. =)
Whether you live on 5 acres or in an apartment building, their are ways to introduce your children to an interest in gardening. And even children as young as two years old are able to help with digging, planting and watering. Your older child is able to plan, plant and take care of their own garden space or window box with minimal help from a parent.
I’ve decided this is an important activity to at least dabble in. We are going to begin slowly and maybe one day we will have the large beautiful outside garden that I have always wanted and envisioned. I did a little research and I highly recommend the following book and websites:
Kids Gardening by Kevin Raftery and Kim Gilbert Raftery
Then I started to collect the things we would need: milk cartons, water jugs, cans, ice cream cartons, etc. Next, I purchased planting soil (although next year, I want to plan enough ahead of time to make our own compost.), gardening gloves, shovels and seeds.
I decided not to overwhelm myself or the kids, we are going to start off slowly. I had Zander pick which seeds he wanted to plant first and we soaked them overnight as our book instructs. I only soaked enough for one milk carton.
Today, I gathered everything we needed and we began our mission. I precut one of the sides of the milk carton so that I wouldn’t be nervous Zander doing that part. I’m sure as he gets older, he’ll be able to do that though. I had Zander take a golf tee and a play hammer and make holes on the what will be the bottom sides of our recycle planter. Next, Zander & Lexi helped each other fill the milk container with prepared soil. Zander moist the soil and then we made 3 dents to put the seeds in. We put 3 seeds in each. Next he covered the seeds and soil and both he and Lexi watered. I put the carton in a large tub
erware so that the extra water would drain into it instead of my floor or table. Then I had Zander & Lexi take turns lightly patting the soil. Next I had Zander write “Carrots” on a piece of paper and we taped it to the carton. We then moved it to the window. I set Zander up and he documented what he saw in a drawing.
In the next couple of weeks, I plan to add a couple more planters of different veggies. But I think doing one at a time so we do not feel overwhelmed is working. Also this is a starter planter so when the carrots are ready, I will teach Zander to move them to their own pots. He will also learn how to “feed” them and check to see if they need water.
I bought a topsy turvy at Wal-mart www.topsyturvys.com that we are going to experiment with. First though hubby has to get something to anchor it safely.
I’m really excited about this new adventure and Zander loved every minute of it. Lexi’s gloves would not stay on and I think they are important when working with prepared soil. So I need to find some alternative for her to keep her involved.
In the next few months, I hope to post our growth.