When you get preschoolers gardening, you get them learning! Gross motor activities, fine motor activities, sensory experiences galore; some might argue that the garden is an ideal classroom. That’s right, your backyard is a magical place for your preschooler to learn and grow! Here are ten ways your preschooler can learn in the garden. And the best part? Many of these activities are also a big help!
Learning in the Garden
1. Dig in the Dirt – This simple sensory activity can give way to major learning and lots of fun. By digging in the dirt they will discover all the amazing creatures that live and thrive right under our feed. Holding a wiggling worm is an experience not to missed. Plus, all that digging will get your garden ready for planting!
2. Plant Seeds – This fine motor activity teaches preschoolers how plants get their start. It can also be a counting exercise. Extend the math learning even further by giving them a ruler and asking them to evenly space the seeds along a row. Your preschooler just learned a whole lot and you didn’t have to stoop over to get those seeds in the ground!
3. Water – This is undoubtedly my son’s favorite chore in the garden. This gross motor activity isn’t just fun, it also teaches your child what plants need to grow and thrive. Including the importance of not overwatering or wasting that precious resource.
4. Weed – Pulling weeds doesn’t have to be a grueling chore. It can be a learning experience! Preschoolers learn how to identify plants and distinguish between weeds and those that shouldn’t be picked. Also, in pulling a weed they see how a whole plant grows, roots and all.
5. Track Growth – Scientific observation and math skills come into play here. Preschoolers love to see how tall a flower has gotten or how many tomatoes are waiting on the vine.
6. Identify Bugs – This is another super fun one! Have your preschooler watch bees pollinate the garden, butterflies visit, and lady bugs snack on aphids. Speaking of aphids, teach them to identify pests and you’ve got a major helper!
7. Harvest – This one is my favorite! Whether it’s popping blueberries straight into their mouth or pulling carrots for dinner, this gives your child an understanding of where their food comes from. It also makes for a more adventurous eater! Clipping flowers and herbs is also a wonderful fine motor activity and you end up with a special bouquet!
8. Save Seeds – This is easier to do with some plants than others but the exercise is a wonderful learning experience even if the seeds don’t yield the following season. Try plucking the seeds from a pepper or waiting for spinach to flower and go to seed.
9. Compost – Gathering kitchen scraps and fallen leaves and watching them turn into black gold is a great learning experience. Preschoolers get to understand the process of decomposition and recycling, as well as how to provide nutrients for the soil.
10. Plan – Even in the dead of winter there is gardening work to be done! Have your preschooler help you plan for the next year. Browse seed catalogues and break out the crayons to draw up the spring plot!
I hope these ideas encourage you to garden with your kids, even if it’s just a little herb garden on the window sill, there is so much to learn and grow!