One of the best ways to teach children any lesson is hands-on teaching! Gardening is one of those fun ways to learn about Nature and Self-Reliance. Gardening teaches children how our food is grown, how we depend on Nature for nutrition and how we are intimately tied to Nature. Whether you only have a window or a whole acre, Gardening has so many valuable life lessons that it is a must for every child AND adult! The following will give everyone some ideas to get the most out of gardening for school! Planning the Garden
Have the children plan the Garden: what we eat and what we can grow, then have them make a “grocery list” of what they are willing to try growing. You can incorporate math into planning, for example: We have a “X amount” of family members and this vegetable produces “Y amount” of food, how many plants will we need to grow? You can take into consideration the popularity of the vegetable (how many family member like it and how often it is eaten). If it is popular, grow a lot and vice versa. How big is another consideration, have the kids map the yard and decide where to put the Garden and how big it will be! You could even measure it to specific length and width!
Preparing the Garden
This is a good time to introduce ecology and even chemistry! Talk about how it is important to have a healthy environment to have a healthy garden. Composting is a great ecology lesson by itself! Building a compost bin covers math, prediction, mapping, decomposition, recycling etc…there are so many lessons in a Compost bin that you could do a whole year around it! For Chemistry, what each new seedling is going to need to grow healthy. Some questions could be, Does it need Nitrogen? Or Does it like a lot of acid? Also, Does it need poor soil or rich soil? We use the “Lazagna Gardening Technique” It is a great way for kids to understand that the composition (environment) of the ground is important to how successful a garden will be!
Using Peat Pellets is a fun way to get the little ones involved with planting! They get to watch the Peat Pellets grow when water is absorbed and they get to plant seeds in them and watch for results in a few days. Kinders and First Graders don’t have the stamina to “plan” a garden, but they can tell you what they want and help grow special vegetables that they asked for, this is very empowering to them! For the older kids (2nd grade and up), they get the same satisfaction. Also, they can continue to be an active part in the whole gardening process! They can decide what needs to be started in the house before planting and what can be put directly into the ground after the last heavy frost. Finally, you can talk to them about climates and planting zones. What Zone are you in? What does that mean? And Why is there Zones? Great critical thinking questions!
This is just FUN! Putting a plan into action. What a gratifying feeling for a child any age (even the young at heart)! Toiling in the soil is something that has happened since the beginning of time, this could be a social studies lesson in itself. Also, the younger children get to dig in the dirt, play with worms, and plant their special plants!
Maintenance is an ongoing process. From weeding out the bad weeds and leaving the good ones to mulching to pulling out dying plants and harvesting, gardening is WORK! Children can learn how sticking with a course of action can produce beneficial results even when it seems like to much work. Also, this is the time to reinforce WHY you have chosen to garden (i.e ecology, recycling, supporting local farming, etc). Make it a family affair, “many hands makes for light work”. When harvesting have the children identify which plants look ready to eat!
Plants Children Love to Grow
|Sunflowers||Sweet Peas||Pumpkins||Corn||Gourds (Birdhouse)||Pole beans|
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