As the weather becomes warm you begin thinking about all of the learning possibilities that outdoor activities present. One of the activities that provides the most opportunity for learning is gardening.
We all know being outdoors is good for children, but the act of gardening is often overlooked when it comes to infants and toddlers. Their connection to nature is just as important as for older children and the things they can learn are just as endless. They are sensory learners after all, and the garden is full of sights, sounds, smells, and textures.
So here are a few tips for gardening with infants and toddlers.
- Let them freely move around the outdoor space instead of being in a stroller or carrier.
- Cut a few pieces of the plants off and let them play with them and really touch, smell, and see them.
- Take your time. Let them explore and experience the space without rushing them or talking too much.
- Let them help. Toddlers can help plant seedlings, move and carry things such as buckets of dirt or mulch, and can water plants.
- Talk to them about what they see in nature and how to respect it. Look under rocks and logs to see what is living there. Teach toddlers to stay still and be careful when holding another living thing.
Gardening with Young Children is a great resource for everything you need to know to get started with a garden, how to engage children in gardening, and thinking about how it will be integrated into the curriculum beyond science. It also has some great activities for kids of all ages to learn more about nature, gardening, and interacting with the world around them.
Source: Gardening with Young Children: Second Edition of Hollyhocks and Honeybees, Redleaf Press, 2014