Gardening with children is very rewarding. There are so many things that children can learn through gardening.
In fact, gardening activities can be used to cover a wide range of the curriculum, including:
language - speaking, reading and writing
Even very young children can garden to some extent. Some of the activities listed below have been undertaken by 2, 3 & 4 yr olds (with some adult assistance). You're never too young ... or too old ... to enjoy the pleasures of a garden.
This list has been compiled from activities we have done over the past few years, as well as ones we have yet to do.
Maths: Gardening Activities for Children
Survey who likes to eat which plants/vegetables. Write the results up in a table format using tally marks.
(Note: This survey form was completed by the boys when they were much younger - hence the simplicity of it. Survey forms can be made complex or simple according to the needs and abilities of the children using them. The idea of this survey form was simply to introduce the boys to a different way of recording information).
Plant a variety of seeds in egg cartons. Encourage children to document which seas sprout first, second, third, etc.
Measure plant growth - starting from seeds. Record data using a bar graph, eg. Pea Sprout Maths.
Draw a plant and then label the different parts of the plant.
Writing: Gardening Activities for Children
Create a scrapbook about your gardening experiences. Include children's drawings, seed packets, leaf rubbings, posters, etc. Cover the book with photos/drawings of plants, veggies or flowers that you are growing.
Write a factual report about plants (e.g., which plants we eat).
Plant a seed. Write a seed diary documenting the changes a seed undergoes as it sprouts and grows. Also include instructions of how to plant the seed.
Reading: Gardening Activities for Children
Read fictional stories which contain plants, or parts of plants. For example, some traditional tales include:
Jack and the Beanstalk
Little Red Riding Hood (with a red apple)
Act out the stories you read by turning it into a play.
Read factual books about plants. You'll find an abundance in your local library.
Use the internet to find out more about plants. Image searches are helpful when looking for pictures of unusual plants such as carnivorous plants.
Art: Gardening Activities for Children
Make a collage using photos of leaves taken during a nature walk.
Create bark rubbings using trees in a local park.
Press leaves/flowers. Use in collage project.
Make a collage using photos of different foods we grow from the garden to eat.
Make Leaf Creatures by pasting a leaf on paper and then adding creature features (e.g., eyes, nose, legs and arms, etc.) using a permanent marker.
Create waxed paper collages using dried leaves and 'treasures' found during a nature walk. Display on window so light interacts with the art creations.
Make a poster showing the creatures which are garden 'friends' (e.g., ladybirds, worms and bees) and garden 'enemies' (e.g., slugs, caterpillars, snails and grasshoppers).
Draw the plants you're growing.
Make a scarecrow for your garden. Draw a plan of what the scarecrow should look like and then make it out of recycled materials from around the home.
Science: Gardening Activities for Children
Plant seeds in a transparent container so that growth can be seen (i.e., roots, shoot, etc). (Write a diary about the seeds' growth)
Measure and graph the growth of a seed/shoot. Use a bar graph.
Colour flowers by putting white flowers in coloured water. The coloured water should be drawn up through the stem.
Experiment 1 - to find out what plants need to grow - light, water and soil. Use 4 seedlings. Give one seedling soil, light and water. Deprive each of the remaining seedlings of one item (e.g., soil/light/water). Encourage children to predict what they think might happen to each seedling. Observe and document what happens to the seedlings. Compare predictions with observations.
Experiment 2 - to find out if plants need leaves. Use 2 seedlings. Remove all the leaves (and any that bud thereafter) from one seedling. Allow the other seedling to keep leaves. Give both seedlings the same light, water and soil.
Experiment 3 - to find out how temperature affects plants. Place one seedling outside in a cooler area and another inside in the warmth. Give both plants the same water, soil and light. Observe if there is any difference in growth.
Look for seeds inside fruit (e.g., passionfruit, kiwifruit, apples, pears, oranges, etc.).
Go on a nature walk with a camera. Take photos of different leaves showing the shapes, sizes, textures and colours.
Look at the different parts of a plant which we eat - flowers, leaf, fruit, root, seeds.
What do the different parts of the plant do?
Talk about the different types of plants - some for food (veggies and fruit), some for looking at (ornamental), carnivorous, cactus, etc.
What do plants eat? Carnivorous plants?
Taste test the fruit and veggies grown from the garden.
Cook with different seeds, flowers, roots, leaves, and seeds. For example:
Cook popcorn (seeds)
Mashed potatoes (roots)
Veggie quiche - broccoli (flowers)
Veggie soup with spilt peas (seeds) and root vegetables
Start a compost.
Talk about what can be put into a compost and what can't (e.g., diary products, meat, plastic). Make a poster detailing what's good, and what's not, for the compost.
Start a worm farm. Talk about what is needed to keep the worm farm going strong - e.g., food, protection, water. What can't go into a worm farm (e.g., citrus peelings). How do worms help the garden?
Make plant terrariums by planting small plants inside glass bottles.
Plant seeds from fruit or vegetables found in the kitchen. We've grown pumpkin plants from pumpkin seeds as well as corn plants from popcorn kernels and passionfruit.
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