Gardens are a great way to integrate social and academic learning into a practical life, every day activity. There is so much potential in a garden classroom and Dayna, is here as a guest writer today, to showcase some of these learning connections and advice for starting up and maintaining a school garden. She is an enthusiastic, hands-on parent who shares her natural living, homeschooling and sensory play ideas at Lemon Lime Adventures. ~Amanda
I am so excited to be part of the Gardening Team for Kids in the Garden at The Educator's Spin On It. As an early childhood educator for 12 years, I have always loved gardening with children. It is one of my favorite parts of the year. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of creating a Preschool Garden with my co-teacher at our urban public school. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I had in all my 12 years of teaching and I hope to encourage you to try starting a preschool garden with these 10 tips.
Tip One: Build Children's Background Knowledge
* Read books * Go on nature walks * Do seed explorations * Sort flowers by colors
Tip Two: Plan the Garden with the Children
* Use graphs and picture charts to chart ideas for the garden (Favorite flowers, Favorite colors, Favorite vegetables, etc) * Have children create lists of materials needed * Encourage drawings and labels of what the children want the garden to look like
Tip Three: Involve the Parents and Community
* Have children make posters and letters asking for help * Create a sign-up for jobs parents/community member can help with * Ask for donations of plants, materials, tools to borrow, and even snacks
Tip Four: Prepare Your Materials Ahead of Time
* Borrow and collect as many tools as you can get * Kid sized gloves, shovels, rakes, and watering cans * Weed and clean out your space ahead of time * Have snacks and water prepared for the children and volunteers
Tip Five: Take Children on a Field Trip to Purchase the Plants (if possible)
* Let children pick their favorite colors * Gather a variety of seeds * Plan to plant a variety of sensory plants* Wagons are extremely helpful for gathering the materials.
* Allow the children to do the "jobs" * Have enough materials to keep everyone busy * Make sure you have "activities" for those that aren't interested in planting
Tip Seven: Allow time for Explorations
* Highlight when worms are found * Discuss the different bugs * Let children explore the tools in open dirt
Tip Eight: Remember Not All Children Will "Plant"
* Gardening can be great for sensory input * Some children might just enjoy digging * Deep holes can be great for sensory needs
Tip Nine: Plan for the Future Care
* Make sure school staff is on board and willing to help on the weekends * Create a schedule/sign-up for community and parent volunteers to help water and weed * Plan extension lessons in the garden (journaling, measuring, science observations, etc) * Remember it will take some time before your garden is full and lush.
Tip Ten: Have Fun!
I can't stress enough how much fun a Preschool Garden can be. It can provide you and your preschoolers with so much fun while learning at the same time. From outside reading time to science experiments... The possibilities are endless!
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Dayna is a National Board Certified teacher with over 12 years of experience in the primary classroom. She recently began homeschooling her 3 children against her will. She writes at Lemon Lime Adventures, where she writes about the trials and errors of their life, life living as a blended family, and dealing with a son with Sensory Processing Disorder. You can find Dayna rockin’ it over on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and G+!
Join us for Kids in the Garden; Learning and Growing
Plant a seed with your child on March 31st!