Seed starting is a great way to initiate sensory play! My son John, is naturally drawn to the green world. He loves digging in my house plants and I often find him playing with last year’s seed packets. He likes to shake, rattle and pour them out!
With spring fever upon us in Vermont, I brought out our seed starting supplies for a fun, family activity. Although our planting may not result in your typical garden-ready transplants, we played, explored and ramped up John’s excitement for gardening. Here are a few observations about what he learned through this activity.
1. Exploring the Seed Packets
New Words: Most seed packets have beautiful images or photographs on the packaging. This is a great way, especially with vegetables, to learn new words! Johnny knows his peas and beans, and is now really excited about sunflowers and tomatoes! I plan to use his interest to help me decide what I would like to plant in my garden. Last year, even at 12 months old, he loved to pick the strawberries and tomatoes to eat as an afternoon snack.
Fun Sounds: Without any direction, the first thing that John did was shake the packets. He liked the kale seed packets the best! They were loudest and almost sounded like rain!
Peeking & Pouring Out: I opened a few packets for him and I was surprised how gentle he was with them. We dumped the seeds out both in a bowl and in a seed tray. He loved the feeling as he grabbed handfuls of the different seeds.
Unplanned Discoveries: John decided to pour kale seeds on the tray instead of in the bowl. He pushed the seeds up and down the grooves and then he rocked the tray back and forth to watch them roll up and down.
2. Digging into the Potting Soil
Potting soil offers a new texture that is different from the typical sensory tables of sand and playdough, and a lot messier! After a few handfuls, he preferred to use the hand rake and enjoyed scooping and flinging the soil. I had to remind myself that making a mess was okay! In addition to experiencing the feel of the soil, I knew he was also able to smell the earthiness of the compost--- a smell I hope he will come to love as much as I do. We dumped our bowl of seeds on top of the soil and used the rake to spread them around.
3. Watering = Mud
Next I showed him how to water the soil. This allowed him to watch, learn, imitate, and follow directions. He started off sprinkling water gently but then he decided dumping the water out of the top was faster. After watering, I encouraged him to feel the new consistency of the soil. He noticed that it was harder to brush the wet soil off his hands and clothes.
It only took a few minutes! Johnny and I tried to pick up as much compost as we could and I dumped the remaining compost on the heap outside. We vacuumed and then we were done!
We put the soil and seeds in the window, right next to all of mommy’s other plants so that we can come back and check on them each day. Through this activity, he will begin to learn about patience, a valuable life lesson. I look forward to watching him watch his new plants grow. He was excited and very proud!
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- 2019 National Children and Youth Garden Symposium
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