Gardening

Magic Wishes for Preschool/Kindergarten #6: Kids’ Gardening Fun and Learning

Spring is the best time of year for kids’ gardening fun and learning. Do your kids know that food has to grow before we get it at a store? In this series, parents and caregivers of preschool kids are answering the following question:

Q. If you had a magic wand or one wish you could use to conjure up something in a preschool program, care center, or kindergarten, what would that be?

kids' gardening fun and learning

The answers give plenty of food for thought. Patrick, dad of K, wishes his son and other kids could learn about gardening and the value of food. It must be the time of year, because just this week there was a radio interview with a scientist and growing food in space. Growing food in space is more than a science challenge. It’s also a mental and emotional issue, as astronauts find they really miss eating something fresh. Plus, being involved in growing food provides a connection nothing else can. Not only do plants feed bodies they also feed our hearts. Caring and looking after plants can reduce the isolation and loneliness of those in space—and back on Earth too.

There are so many great reasons to include gardening activities for kids, no wonder Patrick wished kids could have access to gardens. Gardens nourish the senses. Think of the smell of soil and water, green plants, and freshness outdoors. Soft, slippery, wet, and sandy are a few of the different textures for sense of touch. With plants and earth, eyes get lots of stimulation. There’s not a lot to hear, or is there? Perhaps this is one reason why gardening is relaxing, the sounds are oh so quiet.

kids' gardening fun and learning

Children not only tune in to their senses, but to their own nature. They also learn about being patient and responsible. The experience the circle of life, in that plants need our care and we need plants for food. Creepy crawlies like worms are part of the connection too. When we care for a garden, we also care for ourselves and others.

Raising food from planting to harvesting, not only gives kids knowledge of how food grows, but appreciation for it too. In the words of the Guerilla Gardner, Ron Finley, “Kids who grow kale will eat kale. Kids who grow tomatoes, will eat tomatoes.” That’s one way of getting kids to eat veggies. Having kids’ gardening fun and learning as part of early childhood is so worthwhile. Do you wish there was more of it too?

 

Spring Fun: Kids Can Help with Yard Work

The weather may not be warm enough in your area for yard work, but it soon will be. Did you know kids can help with yard work? They usually love dirt.

kids can help with yard workLeaves and trash may have accumulated in the yard over the winter. Kids can help pick these up and put them in a bucket or wheelbarrow. There are kid-sized wheelbarrows that are fun to use, or try a big dump truck. Being closer to the ground, kids often see bits of stuff that adults miss. Sometimes though, they mistake the trash for treasure. Bugs, worm, and slugs may be hiding in old vegetation and they are a treasure of the nature kind.

With a small spade or shovel, little hands should be able to dig in the dirt. Give kids a small pail to fill with dirt. This can be dumped back out and kids will dig and fill it up again. This works the soil for planting. If it’s not too early, your helper might like to plant some spring flowers.

spring yard work with kidsAs long as a patch is all weeds, kids can pull and tug. Even for some grownups, it’s difficult to tell what’s a weed and what’s a flower or other plant, so watch kids aren’t pulling up the ones you want.

Kids like to see how strong they are. Are there some rocks that need to be moved to another part of the yard? As long as the rocks aren’t too big, kids may be able to carry them a short distance without dropping them on any toes.

Patio and deck furniture may need to be washed before setting it up. Warm water and soap in a bucket is like a magic potion for kids. Spilling and splashing water won’t hurt the ground, deck, or patio. An old dish brush works great for scrubbing.

Kids can help with yard work at a level that is appropriate for them. Being part of family tasks gives kids a feeling of pride and accomplishment. They like to contribute and feel big, even tho they are still little. Yard work is another way to be outside and connect to nature. It’s a very natural stress-reliever too. If yard work is on your to-do list, is there a way to include your child?

#7 Go Wild for Nature: Kids and Gardens

Kids and gardens are both growing so it’s quite natural for them to be together. A garden is not a wild place but usually carefully planned and tended. Gardens to not need to be huge spaces, they can be as small as a few pots on a deck or balcony. Whatever size the spot, it’s excellent for experiencing and connecting to nature.

nature kids and gardensSeeds aren’t the only thing that grows in a garden so does children’s awareness of their senses. Gardens are definitely hands-on. Hands get to dig in the soil, pour water from a watering can, feel slippery earthworms and fuzzy caterpillars, pull up weeds, and gently touch the plants. Whole bodies get to feel the warm sun and cool shade.

Not only is there lots to touch, there are many things to see. There are so many different sorts of just the color green: pale, like new tomatoes and deep, like zucchinis. All the colors make a rainbow in the garden. There’s a never-ending variety of shapes, lines, sizes, and patterns. The light dances among the leaves. Tiny movements hint at the location of little creatures but sometimes they are almost too fast for eyes.

nature kids and gardensFrom the smell of the soil, to the perfume of flowers. kids explore all the scents and odors in a garden. Before vegetables are ready, kids are exploring how things taste. Gardens are also full of sounds as the wind rustles the leaves and feet scrunch on rocky paths. Birds might sing along.

Children use their senses to learn about the world around them and their own inner one. Nature teaches many other lessons such as patience, order, responsibility, and more. Kids get to experience basic natural science. For instance, life-cycles, the importance of water and light, and more. Gardens do not just include plants, but insects too.

Kids who are involved in gardening develop a partnership with nature. They begin to understand how to care for nature’s gifts and how to care for themselves. Does your child have a garden?

(Have you seen some of the resources growing in 123’s garten?)

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