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Spring Has Sprung! School Gardens Offer Children a Learning Wonderland

Imagine being a preschooler and your teacher says to the group “hmmm…I feel like trying a bell pepper.” As a preschooler who may have never tried a bell pepper or may not even know what a bell pepper is, this could be a fantastic full circle experience for that child. Gardening teaches many skills from science (botany, lifecycle), math (counting, predictions) and language. Children learn problem solving, planning and implementation, patience and finally how to appreciate the fruits of their labor by tasting a vegetable they picked from their own garden. Parents and teachers can share an exciting variety of learning experiences just by going outside to pick a bell pepper and explore it.

Spring is officially here in Texas and now is the very best time to start a garden. Many of Educational First Steps partner centers have received garden boxes from groups of volunteering companies and organizations. If your company or organization is interested in volunteering, please contact EFS for more information and opportunities by visiting our website here, https://educationalfirststeps.org/give/volunteer-opportunities/.

Children love to help and here are a few ideas that you can do at school or home to peak interest and curiosity.  This collection not only contains ideas for growing plants, but also art and sensory ideas!

  • Teach your children how to plant seeds and take care of them.
  • For a miniature indoor garden, make a terrarium.
  • Dissect a flower and study its parts.
  • Explore real or artificial flowers with a garden sensory bin.
  • Examine different seeds with a magnifying glass and compare.
  • Go on a nature walk and collect items.  Discuss what you found on your adventure.
  • Take a trip to a local farmers market or spend time in the produce section at the grocery store.
  • Have a variety of children’s books that incorporate real life photos of gardens, bugs, fruits and vegetables.
  • Have fun cooking and making silly snacks using fruits and vegetables.

One of the most important things about gardening is to involve the children and allow them to have some investment.  Gardening is not a guaranteed success.  Take the time to teach them the value of hard work and perseverance, skills that will be useful for the rest of their lives.  Most of all, have fun and enjoy the laughter, curiosity and inquisitiveness with your children.

Contributer: Shanta Bell is currently an Early Learning Specialist working with post-accredited partner centers.