Spring is in the air and children who have played inside way too long
through the winter months are ready for ACTION!
If you have a yard, you are probably overwhelmed with the work you need to do to get the grass and gardens back in shape – let your child help. Though you do not want them armed with lawn mowers or other instruments of destruction, they are very capable of being a real help to you and you may even find a future master gardener living under your roof.
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Give your child a pad and pencil – you take one, too – and tour the yard.
Talk about sun and shade areas, talk about bugs killing your grass and rabbits eating your plants and all those miserable weeds that seem to be the healthiest thing growing in our yards. -Tell your child what you need to do and ask for their input and ideas.
Step 2: Sit down in the grass and sketch out your yard while your child does the same thing.
If you have the space, set aside part of a garden area for your child to grow their own vegetables or flowers. – If your yard is limited to a patio or balcony, make a plan for pots or boxes of flowers and vegetables – give your child a pot to use as they wish.
Step 3: Off to the garden store!
Though there are many people who find every single aisle of a home or garden store to be the equivalent of an amusement park, young children seldom last more than 30 minutes so you must plan your time well.
Our clock is ticking!
We divide our 30 minutes like this:
*8 minutes of play
*8 minutes of learning
*10 minutes of practicing what we learned
*4 minutes to check out
First we play, check out the rider lawn mowers and patio furniture for 5 minutes. These big items are fantastic fuel for your child’s imagination. Encourage them to pretend they are mowing a huge field of grass or entertaining the queen for tea on their patio. Then, spend 3 minutes letting them build a story in their imagination, join into their story and have fun. (Play = 8 minutes)
Next we learn, seed packets are so much fun to look at and they are small enough for little hands to hold them. Look at all the choices for flowers and for vegetables. – This is a great time to do some sorting work for math and reading: have your child show you the red flowers and vegetables, then the orange ones, and so on. -Look for names of flowers and vegetables that start with the same letter as your child’s first name. -Count how many different kinds of tomatoes or squash or melons you can find. -If you can, buy a packet of seeds that will grow anywhere, like carrots or marigolds and take them home to plant in a pot of dirt. Give your child the responsibility of watering (check by sticking a finger in the soil to see if it is dry), but don’t expect them to be the one to remember to do it every day – that is an adult job. (Learning = 8 minutes)
Now we practice what we learned, move over to the real plants! Bring a packet or two of seeds with you to compare the picture on the pack to the actual plant. – Have your child look for the flower that matches the picture. Ask how they made the decision. Did they match the color? The leaves? Just guess? -Ask them to explain their thinking and decision making to you; when you do this you are teaching them to be problem solvers and to use clues or evidence to make conclusions. That is what real scientists do every day! (10 minutes for practice plus 4 for check out and you are in and out in 30 minutes)
Step 4: Take your treasures home and start planting!
Step 5: Enter this adventure in your Science Journal!