As parents, we are trying to raise well rounded kids that are knowledgeable about the world around them, thoughtful and considerate of others, healthy, and happy children. We are trying to celebrate each and every day with our children, because they are true gifts. We are trying to parent with purpose. As we approach a holiday to celebrate our loved ones, I can't help but think of how much of a connection there is between material goods and sweets to demonstrate how much we love our kids, spouses, friends, and family. We have decided to fight against these societal trends and create our own healthy family traditions and this one starts with a potato.
Yes, a potato. A seed potato in fact. Every Valentine's Day, we plant potatoes in our garden. They are not the most prolific crop for the space they take up, but oh so much fun for the kids to plant and harvest. They are also relatively easy to grow, making this a good pick for gardening with kids. Last week we stopped at our local Feed and Seed store to pick up our seed potatoes. I strongly recommend purchasing seed potatoes because they have not been treated with a growth retardant and are disease free. This weekend, we will quarter the large potatoes, making sure there is 1-2 eyes on each piece. Then, we will let them sit in a paper bag for a couple days so that their cuts heal over (We didn't do this last year, but I read that it reduces the chance of the potatoes rotting in the ground) Then, on Valentine's Day, we will plant them, cut side down, about a foot apart and 6 inches deep in our old blue play bin with a cracked bottom. Every week we will water them and mound the soil around the stems as they grow. And we will wait.
80 days seems sooooo long!
But the wait is worth it! On harvest day we feel like treasure hunters mining for gold, only we are just a family out in the backyard digging for potatoes!!! I can remember our last years treasure hunt for potatoes as if it were yesterday; the kids cheers when they found one, Papa's exclamations that they actually grew, my toddler digging in the dirt in his jammies. Oh, the fun.
And I am not the only one who remembers the excitement. My 5 year old has a count down to potato planting day. I think that she may be even more excited than I am and it just warms my heart. There is no talk of chocolate. No purchasing of cheesy stuffed teddy bears, just a bag of seed potatoes and a ton of memories waiting to be made.
This IS exciting stuff (yeah, gardening floats our boats over here!) And really, this excitement can and should be capitalized upon. This is REAL life. This is REAL learning. So what is a mom and an educator to do? There really isn't a lot of curriculum for young children out there on growing potatoes. I have gathered a collection of videos, articles, and online games for kids to play at the bottom of this post, but I wanted to really connect reading and math to our gardening. As a result of this need, the potato packet has arrived! Made by yours truly for my kids =) It has a mini-book, math observation sheet, a graph, gardening bracelets and more!
Yes, you are all talented and can make this on your own too. But, if you are short on time, I'm making it available for you to purchase here ($1.50) for your classroom or home use. We have some other free and for sale items in our shop. Please feel free to stop by! By request, I have added pre-made garden reading card labels. They are a printable version of the ones I blogged about last month! Here is my 5 year old working on the data recording sheet!
To learn more about planting potatoes and see us in action, check out our newest YouTube video!
This is what authentic learning is all about.
A well rounded article about different varieties, growing, harvesting, fertilizing, and possible pests.
Another Teacher Blogger's post about growing potatoes with her students.
Another well rounded article about growing potatoes.
An E-how article on growing potatoes.
How to build and grow with a potato box
A general post about gardening with kids - potatoes made their top 10 list!
Spuds in Tubs - BC Agriculture in the classroom Foundation with some links related to gardening.
This is the best "how to" video I have found. I recommend starting here!
Soil mounding, growth and harvest.
Growing potatoes in a grow bag.
For the Kids
Potato Games and Information
And a way to incorporate a little crafting... you can't forget potato stamping!!!