Kids love to watch things grow and what better to do just that than a garden. Here at our daycare in Plainfield IL we believe that it is important to teach kids about sustainable living and gardening at a young age. There are many kids these days that don’t even know what vegetable a French fry comes from. I don’t know about you, but I feel this is very troubling and I feel that everyone should know where their food is coming from. By creating and starting a garden with children, you are able to show them the science behind gardening with experience and give them the satisfaction of making something grow. By making them a part of the gardening process, they will learn to love and appreciate the food that they eat every day. I have asked the help of Creative World School to aid us in ways to teach these little ones with fun gardening activities.
Tools of the Gardening Trade
The first thing we do is to introduce them to all the tools that we will be using. If they are dangerous tools, we make sure to teach them that a grown has to help out. We don’t want anyone getting hurt at our daycare facility. Tools like shovels, aerators, pruners, composters, and hoses are all used at our garden. When we first constructed the garden we showed the children how to make raised beds, allowing them to make all the score marks with pencils while we did all the cutting. We also set up a compost pile station, where we would add all organic materials. All organic material from our child care facility was used in this process and the kids loved to make sure that all trash went where it was supposed to.
Preparing the Soil
With the beds and the compost set, we would then prepare the soil. Because we didn’t have compost that was quite ready, we bought our first batch and mixed it with our screen top soil. We let all of our daycare attendees each get a chance to mix in their own little buckets while we mixed vermiculite and peat moss into the final mixture. Now we had a chance to throw in a few science lessons by teaching a small chemistry lesson. We arranged a small little song to sing while we were getting the soil ready to introduce them to the elements that help to balance the soil correctly like Magnesium, Sulfur, Calcium, Potassium, Phosphorus, and Nitrogen. Just like humans, we teach them that plants need certain vitamins to grow healthy and strong.
Choosing the Right Fruits and Vegetables
With the soil ready, we were then ready to pick out our vegetables. We decided to grow carrots, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, strawberries, and beets. We started out with incubated seeds and let them sprout throughout the following weeks. We also bought a few plants to better our success rates of growth. This was also a good way for the little ones to see the different stages of growth. When the plants were ready we could now start the planting process. We had sectioned off designated spots with the recommended spacing for each different vegetable. For this step, we had every child care assistant help out. We made sure to that everyone was on track and over the matter of a couple hours we had a perfectly aligned garden at our daycare center. The final step was to water our new beauties. This is another great lesson opportunity by teaching responsibility. It was up to us to keep the plants watered so they can live. Here we set up an experiment where we had a few plants to the side that we never watered so we can show the need of water.
As time passed by the plants began to start bearing fruits and vegetables. Now was the fun part. Whenever we had a decent yield we would prepare a home cooked meal. This was their favorite part of gardening and now they know where their French fries come from! Good Luck and make sure to comment if you have any child care gardening tips.