How Does Your Garden Grow? 5 Garden Activities



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Last Mother’s Day, my kids gave me a great planter for us to start a home garden!



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My husband works at a factory and they frequently get shipments of equipment that come in these long crates that are perfect for starting a garden (especially because they are free).  Keep your eyes peeled for wooden crates and pallets and you can get free planters as well!

This year we have a few more!



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Now, this is a little intimidating for me because I do NOT have a green thumb… but my husband is a little bit better at watering…and my kids are REALLY good at watering… a little too good as they sometimes over water.

So many early childhood teachers will grow plants in the classroom for kids to learn the parts of the plant, how to care for a plant, and what plants need to grow: soil, water, sun.  Here are a few activities for you to do at home to teach your kids about growing plants if you have or plan on starting your own garden at home.

1.  Journal:  Have your kids document plant growth.

  • Pre-schoolers – model drawing sketches of what your plants look like each week and then give them a crayon for them to do the same (may not look like much, but they will at least think they are drawing a plant).  Introduce vocabulary such as plant, green, grow, sun, soil
  • Pre-K – have them add words to their drawings (even if their words are just a mix up of letters – write what they are trying to spell underneath).  Vocabulary:  the name of the plants, ex: bell peppers, parts of the plant
  • Kinder – write a sentence or two describing the plant.  Vocabulary and discussion:  the name of the plants, ex: bell peppers, parts of the plant, why plants are important
  • 1st grade and above – a paragraph (minimum) documenting any changes they may see, how long they watered, what time of the day they watered, etc.  Vocabulary and Discussion:  the name of the plants, ex: bell peppers, parts of the plant, describe why plants are important, how they reproduce, nutrition and the benefits of eating home grown foods

2.  Predict:  Have your kids predict what is going to happen throughout the summer with their plants, use your journal from above to help document, then calculate results by a certain date at the end of the summer.

  • Calendar Math:  Using a summer calendar, mark the day you plant your plants.  Have your kids each choose a different date in which they predict they can start picking their ripe produce.
  • Measuring:  Using a ruler, guess the size of the produce and how tall the plants will become by the end of the summer.  Have them draw this out on poster paper to compare at the end of the summer.
  • Counting:  Predict the amount of produce each type of plant will produce.
  • Science – Weather:  predict the number of rainy days versus sunny days
  • Comparison:  predict what type of plant will produce the biggest/smallest, most/least amount, greenest, etc. produce

3.  Experiment:  Get several seedlings that are the same type and are all similar in size.  Experiment with different amounts of sunlight or soil type or watering schedule (choose one) to see what is the optimal amount for that particular plant.  Plant several seedlings in each of the different conditions to get the best average outcome.  And, go back to the first activity:  journal 🙂

4.  Create a Cookbook:  As your plants are growing, decide as a family what you are going to use your plants for and create a family cookbook together!  Take pictures of your growing plants to include in the “ingredients” section of each recipe.

BONUS:  Include a raw versus cooked taste test of each fruit/vegetable to include that 5th sense that we often don’t get to use in a classroom.

5.  Dissect the Plants:

  • Science:  learn about the different plant parts including the parts you don’t see… inside the stem, the roots, inside the fruit and flowers.  When you are finished, use the roots, stem, leaves, flowers to make art on a poster board.
  • Math:  Compare/Contrast the different types of plants:  length, leaf shape, fruit, root length and thickness and number of roots
  • Art:  Create leaf prints by placing a piece of paper on top of the leaves and using the edge of a crayon to etch the shape of the leaf.  Draw the type of produce next to each leaf.

BONUS:  One of my friends started a private Facebook group for some of her friends who wanted to start a home garden.  On it we are sharing pictures and knowledge with each other and when the produce is ripe, we will be having garden picking parties!  It is nice to see what everyone else is growing (and these ladies know way more than I do about gardening so it’s helpful too)!  I encourage you to start a similar group for your friends with green (or slightly unripened) thumbs.

It is so wonderful seeing how excited my kids are to watch our plants grow!  Right now, we just have bell peppers and cherry tomatoes, but we hope to fill our other planters soon!

Leyson and I tore a paper plate in half to draw our measurements of the peppers (paper plates are sturdier than sheets of paper thus easier to measure the peppers on).  We used a marker to draw a line on each side of the paper and later use a ruler to measure from line to line.  We numbered our peppers 1, 2 and 3.  Measure them week by week so you can see how much they grow in one week.



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How does your garden grow???  How have you involved your children in your garden?

5 Wait-Time Children’s Games for Crowd Control

LSU’s Mike the Tiger came to my son’s school the other day for a surprise birthday visit!

It was such a memorable experience for ALL of the children.

But, it actually could have been CRAZY and chaotic if I didn’t “think fast” and come prepared with a few ideas to keep the kids somewhat calm.

It could’ve turned into a bunch of injured kids or an injured Mike, but I always keep a few tricks up my sleeve.

Any time I am in front of a big group of kids, I always try to get them to do something along WITH me.  So, here are my 5 top picks to fill wait -time or keep crowd control when you have a group of kids to organize.

1) “Silly Says” – Today we played “Mike Says” and everything he did, we had to do.  I play this with kids a lot and I just play “Silly Says” – whatever silly thing I do, you do.

2) “Going on a Bear Hunt”  – I was at the park once trying to keep the kids away from the sandbox and this chant did the trick!

3) “I Spy” – The classic game – I usually play it in a variety of ways. “I spy something shaped like…. I spy something that starts with….   I spy something the color….  I spy something that sounds like…. I spy something that rhymes with…”  You get the picture.

4) “Mirror Fingers” – hold up the same number of fingers that I hold up in a different way.

5) “Imitate my Clap”  – this is an old teacher-tactic where the kids simply have to listen and follow the beat that the leader makes.

A couple other easy ones:

1) Coordinate “Little Sally Walker” – you may have to YouTube it if you aren’t sure what that is.

2) Play “Man in the middle.” One person stands in the middle of a circle and throws the ball to someone on the outside (who can’t move their feet).  Whoever catches it and follows the rules becomes the man in the middle.

3) Play “Duck, Duck, Goose!”

4) Sing  “If you are Happy and You know it” – I always come up with lots of things to add to the song like “wag your tail, hop like a frog, roar like a lion, etc”  STRETCH IT OUT! 🙂

 

Painting Circles With Plastic Eggs – Mommy Teacher Spotlight

If you are looking for an activity to re-use those eggs from the egg hunts… look no further.

I love my artsy friend Allie and all the ways she crafts with her kids.  Keep reading because she inspired me to do this with my kids today and that is what The Mommy Teacher is all about:

“My girls, AvaKate (3) and Addie (2), absolutely love doing crafts. They would do them all day long if I let them.  So, when we woke up this morning, they asked to paint.

We painted yesterday, so I wanted to do something a little different.

They had an Easter egg hunt at school yesterday and I wanted to reuse those annoying, oh I mean amazing, plastic eggs before I secretly threw them away, I mean put them back in their baskets (any Moms with me??).

I took them apart and let them dip it into finger paint (easier clean up) and it made circles on their paper. Addie is really into shapes so she got really excited to see the shapes on her paper. Very simple, but it was exciting for the girls to incorporate their eggs from their egg hunt.


Painting with Easter eggs


 

You can also see in the picture little pieces of string and paper. My oldest, AvaKate is obsessed with decorating and making gifts… So those elements were her specific request.

I put some glue on their plate and gave them a paint brush and they “decorated” their art. They loved it! And I loved it because it was all stuff I had around the house and it kept them occupied while I nursed my six week old!”

What Kids Learn When They Play Dress-Up

So, I haven’t been writing posts as frequently lately.  So much has gone on this year.

Though Casey and I each consider ourselves “stay-at-home-moms” we are actually both business owners.

Casey creates for her business Kidspired Creations, and I run an imaginative play center called Pretend Play Party.

In my facility, there are 20 imaginative play stations that children can pretend that they are little vets, bakers, chefs, moms, dads, construction workers, policemen, firefighters, waitresses, artists, and much more.

When children dress-up they get the chance to BECOME a role that they have learned about through observations for as long as they have been able to make connections.


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When kids push a stroller, it seems like a simple imitation, but they are just starting to figure out how to imagine that they ARE moms or dads and they are also learning how to make what they believe come to life.

Socially, kids can learn how to relate to others in a positive and appropriate way.

Linguistically, kids can expand their vocabulary by learning and using more words in their imaginative world.  For example, if your kids are playing “grocery store” then you can teach them the names of fruits and vegetables they may not have tried before.  Or, they may learn about lists, and words relating to money.

Physically, children can strengthen their developing muscles by putting on costumes, tying aprons, hammering, digging, cleaning, all while pretending to take on a role/responsibility.

Cognitively, kids learn more when they put on a role, connect hands-on, and engage by allowing their understandings to come to life.

As a bonus, you might learn even more about what roles interest your child most!

So, it seems simple, but the next time your kids are dressing up and pretending to be an identity other than their own, pretend right along with them, extend on their language, and ask questions that will help them to search their developing brains for answers to deepen those connections with their world.

Share any other thoughts in a comment… we have so much we can learn from each other!

5 Reasons For A Tea Party

Have you had a tea party with your kids lately?

I’m not even necessarily talking about big floppy hats, pearls, or over-sized fancy dresses, but some of my favorite childhood memories are wrapped up in those details.

I’m just talking about a simple playroom tea party: making tea, having some cookies/crackers out, and encouraging your kids to use little cups and plates and talk about all things tea time.


Playroom Tea Party


Here are 5 reasons why we have a tea party at least once a week:

1) My kids will drink TEA with a little cream in it and that excites me for some reason.

2) I feel like we are having old-fashioned fun, and making memories that will last.

3) We talk in British accents and say “Cheers!”


Tea Party Cheers


4) We talk about table manners and what is “proper” for when it is appropriate.

5) The tea party experience gives my kids something to imitate when they play by themselves.  I love to hear my two year old say “Here is your tea, but blow on it first because it is hot hot!”

Don’t you feel like some of the things that we did as children are forgotten?  I want to hold on to those pure, precious memories that made my childhood so meaningful.



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