Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ideas for gardening with young children

Young children desperately want to help with everything, and gardening looks like so much fun because you get to dig in the dirt and get your hands dirty.  Gardening together is a great way to teach responsibility, and to help children learn where their food comes from, plus, children are a lot more likely to try new foods when they've had a hand in growing them.  

There are a lot of things that children can help with in the garden, starting with choosing the plants.  Ask children what kind of plants they would like to grow. Encourage them to think about the kinds of vegetables that they like to eat, and what they might like to try.  If you can, it is great to take the children to pick out the actual plants that you will put in your garden.  This way they can see where the plants are from, and visualize the kind of place that you get plants for the garden.  

It is helpful to do a little prep work before letting the children loose on the garden, little ones are great at pulling weeds, so this is something that they can definitely help with, but if you like your plants in straight rows you may want to mark the rows and start some holes before bringing the children out to help.  Children can also help water the garden. 

Children love to personalize their spaces, and gardens are no different. Ask them to help you make markers for each row of plants.  You might even want to create decor for your garden, wind chimes, stepping stones, and bird feeders are all things that children can make for the garden, and they will love showing off their projects as the plants grow.  

Gardening can be time consuming, so plan on spending a specified amount of time each day in the garden with the children, this can be your science time for the day.  Putting it on your lesson plan and making it a part of your daily routine will ensure that the project doesn't become overwhelming - you'll always have a little time for weeding, watering, and harvesting if you spend 15 minutes each day in the garden.  This will also help you make sure that your entire class gets to participate, because you will have plenty of opportunities to involve everyone!

When you begin to harvest consider sending vegetables home with families.  It's a great way to encourage healthy eating, and it will create wonderful discussions about what each family made with their vegetables, and if the children enjoyed them.  

Planting a garden is a special project that can last all summer long and lead to wonderful learning experiences!

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