I am often asked why I garden with young children.
First, I garden in my personal life and I think it’s important to share my interests with the children I care for. Second, I think it’s important for children to learn to care for growing things. Third, gardening offers learning experiences that support all the different developmental levels of the children here.
We start gardening here with seeds and follow them through harvest. What better way to learn that living things have life cycles. We also know that when children are hands on they are more open to trying new things. With our garden that means trying a large variety of vegetables and the meals prepared with them.
The gardening is really starting to show changes, so today we had a garden hunt where we went looking for: different kinds of leaves; blossoms; and any vegetables growing.
Here’s what we found: Pie Pumpkin, Pickling Cucumber, Zucchini (yellow italian) all growing behind their blossoms. Blossoms on the tomatoes, but no tomatoes.
We were also able to see how the leaves of these plants were similar in shape, but the size was different. Comparing leaves the children found the pumpkins were the largest leaves.
We did find one group of vining plants with blossoms (no fruit yet) with different leaves – darker green and more curves on the edges. Do you know what it is?
We also found pea pods finally fat enough to harvest. Of course we needed to count the pods, arrange by size and even count how many peas were in some of the different pods as we taste tested. It doesn’t get much sweeter than freshly picked raw peas!
Here are some of the different leaves we found:
How many plants did you recognize by their leaves?
~ onions, cabbage, dill, lima beans, lettuce, kale, tomato, carrots, rutabaga, sunflower ~
We also found bugs making dinner of the leaves of the eggplants ~
And Broccoli! That’s one common vegetable that everyone here knows the name for.
What’s fun is learning that when we eat broccoli we are eating the flower blossoms before they open up.
All that learning from the garden, as it begins to provide us with more than mixed salad greens for our lunches.
It’s fun to be in the garden daily seeing all the changes. Reinforcing lessons learned and experiencing new ones.
We’ve also been harvesting the herbs. Which is a totally fun sensory experience!