early childhood gardens

Need a little inspiration for your early childhood garden program this fall?  Check out the Gro More Good Webinar Series we have been working on with the National Head Start Association and Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation.

This month’s webinar featured resources for using garden programs as a tool for teaching literacy.  As an introduction, I expanded on many of the tips from our article on Creating a Reading Garden and Becky Schedler from Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens shared some amazing lesson and activity ideas they have used at their Nature School over the years.  You can view the webinar by filling out the registration form.  As soon as you register, you will be redirected to a recording of the full hour-long session, which you can watch at your convenience.

Becky presented on ideas from their vegetable gardens inspired by the book “Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!” by Candace Fleming, their flower gardens centered around Lois Ehlert’s book “Planting a Rainbow,” and my favorite, an imagination garden building on a variety of Jack in the Beanstalk books. To give you a sneak peak, here are a few ideas from their Jack and the Beanstalk garden.

The class:

  • read an assortment of  books inspired by the classic tale of Jack
  • researched different types of beans including pole and bush beans
  • created a set of instructions on how to plant beans
  • planted the garden and added labels and whimsical accessories like hanging baskets of white flowering plants to serve as clouds and small farm animals and tractors to help the kids imagine the towering bean plant
  • planted bean seeds in paper towels so they could watch the roots grow and explored germination
  • made lifecycle cards and practiced sequencing
  • retold the story using props both in the garden and in the classroom
  • hosted a sensory table featuring bean seeds
  • held a taste test of different types of beans and created a class chart of favorite
  • used beans in cooking activities
  • took beans and activity ideas home to share with their families.

So much fun!  And so well integrated into the classroom curriculum!  Our school NEEDS this garden! I can’t wait to share all these ideas with our school’s Head Start teachers!  (Can you tell I am excited about this?)

In addition to the webinar series, on our website, we have also created a landing page with links to a lot of our favorite early childhood related resources.  Also, if you are looking for recommendations for excellent garden and nature focused children’s books, make sure to check out the Growing Good Kids Book Awards from the Junior Master Gardener program and the American Horticultural Society.  An expanding collection since 2005 (and in 2005 they recognized classic books written before 2005), the 2019 winners were just announced in July and they are all delightful. Tying gardens to treasured books is an excellent way to engage young children in gardening activities and help fuel their love of reading by connecting books to hands-on activities. It is a win-win situation.

We are working with NHSA on a line up of new webinars for the 2019-2020 school year so keep an eye out for more to come soon!

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