Gardening with Children
During the rainy month of February, our program partnered with WSU Cooperative Extension SNAP Ed and Snohomish Co. ECEAP to create the second part of our Gardening in Child Care and Early Learning series. This class was cancelled but we want to share the materials we developed.
Gardens in child care provide opportunities for children to play, explore and create in the dirt. Gardening is a fun way to experience where foods come from; to be outdoors digging in the dirt and finding tiny creatures; to learn math and science skills; to problem solve and learn to work together. Gardening activities include deciding where to place the garden space, determining what foods to grow, learning how to care for the plants and when to harvest them and finally, eating the freshly picked fruits and vegetables as a part of a meal. Many important school readiness skills can be learned through the natural, sequential process of gardening.
Given our current need for keeping children at a distance of 3 - 6 feet, gardening is an appropriate and reasonable activity for children to do together, yet individually. In small groups of 4-6, children can be given their own digging tool (a child-sized trowel or plastic serving utensil or even a large serving spoon.) In a plot of dirt about 12’ by 4’ feet they can be instructed to dig out the weeds and grass, loosen the soil, find worms and sort out the small stones. Small seedlings or seeds can be directly planted in the plot. This is good time of year for planting spring green seeds such as red and leaf lettuce, kale, or chard in addition to radishes and snap peas.
There are many garden activities to do with children that do not involve digging in the dirt: reading books about growing fruit and vegetables; planting seeds in a jar stuffed with paper towels and water or an egg carton full of dirt; watching colored water travel up a celery stalk… WSU Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners compiled a long list of gardening activities and resources currently on our website. Scroll down to the new “Gardening with Children” section.
WSU Extension Services SNAP Ed director Tori Sorenson shares some favorite children's gardening websites:
- KidsGardening.org Lesson Plans - allows you to filter lessons/activities by age
- Growing-Minds.org Check out the very informative and enlightening videos of teachers planting and directing garden activities with children.
- Down to Earth Gardens A not-to-be-missed resource lives right here in Snohomish County - Terry Bockovish, is founder of Down to Earth Garden. She gives away free seed packets and raised beds courtesy of .... Terry and other volunteers will answer your gardening questions by phone: 425.350.2658 and Email: email@example.com
For an entertaining look at children digging around in a real life garden check out our very own SHD video of children outside digging around in raised beds
. Please note:
This video was created in February and prior to community transmission of COVID 19 in Snohomish County and the resulting social distancing measures. In light of the current situation, the activities in the video should be done while maintaining social distancing for children of 3 – 6 feet.
Below are examples of dozens of books available for children at the SnoIsle library about gardening. Currently the library is closed; however, the online lending library