Thursday, November 14, 2013

Outdoor Activities - Gardening With Preschoolers

Preschoolers love to help with all types of activities, and gardening is no exception. Young children love to dig in the dirt and water the plants. Provide the opportunity for your preschooler to get involved with the gardening and watch their excitement for Mother Nature grow! Whether you are gardening with flowers or veggies and fruits, there are some helpful things to remember to make your preschooler's gardening time the most fun.1. Tools - Provide your child with age appropriate tools to work with in the garden. If you can't find or don't want to purchase the kid sized gardening tools, use old kitchen utensils such as a large serving spoon.2. Plant selection - Allow your child to select one special plant or seed packet for the garden when you are purchasing your flowers or veggies for the season. This will help your child learn to take ownership when caring for their own special plant.3. Planting - Kids can help in the planting process by digging holes and gently patting around newly placed plants. Always demonstrate first and talk them through the step-by-step process of planting a new plant.4. Watering - Water new plants yourself first and then allow your child to add a second round of watering. This will allow you to make sure you get all the new plants the water they need, dampen the surrounding soil and prevent any missed spots or overly harsh watering. Your child can then come right behind you watering a second time. If you have a hose attachment for spraying, the "mist" option is a great second round water choice, but "shower" works well too.5. Continued care - Ask your child to help with continued care of the garden. Allow them to help water, add mulch or otherwise tend to the successful growth and health of the plants.Garden safety tips:1. Avoid allowing children to use heavy or sharp tools.2. Do not allow children to trim or otherwise cut the plants. Garden clippers are very sharp!3. Although vegetable gardens are edible, make sure to explain to your child that not all plants are safe to eat.4. Do not allow children to help use any kind of chemical treatments when gardening, including plant food.5. Always make sure to put all gardening tools and supplies away and out of reach when not in use.Bonus Tip: find a little bucket to store your preschooler's garden tools separate from your own. This will encourage your child to feel like they have ownership in the caring for the garden on their own as well.

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