What’s blooming at Redleaf Press? Gardening with Young Children, that’s what! Our latest release is packed with information and inspiration to help you immerse children in gardening and outdoor learning experiences—green thumb or a perfect plot of land not required. You’ll find heaps of suggestions for planning, planting, and caring for a garden suited to your unique setting, and you will learn how a gardening curriculum supports learning and development across all domains.
Gardening with Young Children includes
- Vibrant photographs and classroom stories describing great programs from around the country
- Content reflecting childhood issues and gardening trends that have surfaced in recent years, including concerns that children are becoming alienated from nature, and that childhood obesity is becoming an epidemic
- Resources to help your garden flourish, seed and garden supply lists, information on poisonous plants, and books about gardens and garden creatures
The book also provides more than 60 hands-on indoor and outdoor learning activities for children of all ages to explore plants and garden creatures. These experiences are not dependent on a specific plant or environment—in fact, many of them don’t even require a garden. The activities may help build interest among your class about gardening, and they may spur your thinking and inspire you to come up with new ideas of your own. For example, try this one . . .
You Fill Up My Senses, an activity from Gardening with Young Children
- Plants are made up of many parts
- Each plant has its own unique look
- Plants have varied textures
- Some plants have distinct smells
- Some plants make noise
- Some plants are edible
five large trays (such as copy paper box lids, cookie sheets, cafeteria trays)
poster board strips
plants that make noise
plants with a strong fragrance
plants that can be eaten
plants that are brightly colored
plants that have an interesting texture
- Label each tray with a word and picture representing one of the five senses (look, touch, listen, smell, and taste).
- Ask children to brainstorm garden items that could be displayed on each tray. Work with children in small groups to collect items from the garden for each tray, such as the following:
- Listen: wind chime, Chinese lanterns, dried gourds, dried money plants, northern sea oats
- Look: Canterbury bells, zinnias, snapdragons, alyssums, geraniums
- Touch: lamb’s ear, dusty millers, Autumn Joy sedums, strawflowers, cockscombs, hens and chicks
- Smell: thyme, sage, basil, chives, cucumber slices
- Taste: parsley, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, carrots, pansies, nasturtiums
- Place trays in an area where they can be visited and manipulated by children or guests.
- Guide children as they explore, and encourage them to use their senses as they manipulate the objects.
Assign children to four groups (touch, smell, look, listen). Give each group a clipboard, and take a sensory walk through the playground, neighborhood, or nearby park. (If cameras are available, children can also take photos.) Encourage the children to find interesting items to write on their list (such as touching the cool gravel or hot asphalt, look for insects, smell food from a nearby restaurant, listen for birds singing.) Return to the room, and ask each group to report what they found. Post their records for parents to see at the end of the day.
Gardening with Young Children is available now from Redleaf Press.