Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden.” – Robert Brault
Getting children involved in their natural environment is beneficial for so many reasons, too many to talk about in just one short blog article. So, we’ve tried to put together just a few gardening highlights to show you how you can create some rewarding, outdoor experiences with your children as well!
From pets to plants, caring for another living organism encourages children to develop a sense of responsibility.
Growing a veggie garden in particular, provides parents, carers and early childhood educators with the opportunity to show children the value of food and where it comes from. In the age of canned, boxed and frozen meals, this has become increasingly important.
Planting simple crops goes a long way when engaging your little ones. Even if you don’t have a lot of space, things like herbs, peas, beans, strawberries or even tomatoes are sturdy plants, which are able to grow in small pots or gardens, and they’re delicious to boot!
Ask your child what THEY would like to plant, and if possible let them pick the seeds. That way, they’re more invested in the process, from the planting right up until the harvesting stage!
Get Creative with Containers
You don’t need to buy pots. Most anything will work and the crazier you go, the more children are able to get creative in the garden.
Items may include, old plastic sandpits or pools, tupperware containers, kitchen pots, broken tea pots, tires, or even shoes! Just use your imagination and it will work.
Instead of getting rid of old household items, save them for the garden. Or you may want to take your little one on an adventure, and look for unwanted items on council clean-up days, garage sales, or your local restaurants and cafés.
Make a Worm Farm
Something we have in all our early learning centres are WORM FARMS, also known as Compost Bins. Not only are they easy to set up, but there’s so many learning opportunities that come with them!
Just like tending to plants in the garden, taking care of their “Worm Farm” helps children develop a sense of responsibility, not just for the worms’ sake, but for the environment!
At our Early Birds Education & Childcare Centres, we teach the children how to separate items which can be recycled or reused from food scraps, which can go into the green compost bin. These scraps not only feed our wormy friends, but they break down to make soil, which eventually goes back into our happy gardens.
Children love tending to their worms and we love watching them develop a healthy appreciation for their environment.
Bring the Outdoors In
Don’t have an outdoor space to work with? No problem! There’s plenty you can do with tiny pots, containers or cups that are great fun for kids (and most adults too).
Our Early Birds children enjoy many planting projects in the classroom, incuding their “hairy little friends in a cup”.
To make, we first decorated plastic cups by glueing on fabric, buttons, and googly eyes to create their happy little cup faces! We then went about growing hair, by placing a handful of grass seed in the cups and filling them with soil. After a few days of sitting in the sun and keeping them moist, with a few water spritz’s per day, voila!
The children love making them, watering them, and even tending to them by “cutting their hair”. Plus, they make an adorable feature sitting on the windowsill!
Create a Unique Outdoor Space
A Children’s Garden is meant to be a fun and creative space which inspires their BIG imaginations.
Again, it’s all about getting creative. Not only do we have areas for our children’s herbs, veggies and flowers, but we also make sure there’s plenty of interactive activities available, we create a sort of “playground garden”.
This may be including rope swings, ladders, tunnels or even old tires, which make great climbing structures. We find that providing plenty of mobile structures which the children can move around, build with and climb, tend to excite them the most. These types of items include outdoor blocks, or even wooden and cardboard stuctures that the children can paint and build whatever they’d like.
We also don’t shy away from decorating our outdoor areas with homemade signs, fairy houses, bird feeders, or even old cds, which make lovely suncatchers hanging in the trees
However you choose to do it, simply getting outside is one of the most critical parts of healthy growth, learning and making childhood memories that last a lifetime.
Yours in Education & Care,
The Early Birds Team