Have you started working in your garden yet? With the weather starting to warm up many Day Nursery preschool classrooms have started making plans for gardens. As we await the date to plant after the last threat of frost has passed, it is not too early to plant a seed with your child by reading them some books about gardening. Elizabeth Kennedy who writes a great blog about children’s books at About.com has come up with a list of her favorite picture books about gardening. Topping her list is the classic “The Carrot Seed” by Ruth Kraus (HarperCollins, 1945. ISBN: 0064432106) with illustrations by Crockett Johnson, well known for “Harold and the Purple Crayon.”
Gardening is a great activity to work into a child’s outdoor playtime. Starting with older infants and toddlers, you can plant flowers and herbs so they experience sensory exploration as they become aware of new smells. While you are out, take a “texture” walk and call the attention of your child to the rough bark on the trees, prickly sticky pine cones and a smooth hard rock. Outdoor play gives children many opportunites to develop their fine motor skills. While on your texture walk, allow toddlers to collect leaves, pine cones and small sticks in wagons or small buckets with handles.
Even the youngest infants can enjoy outdoor sights and sounds. The Creative Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers, used at Day Nursery, gives some examples of how you can enhance your young infant’s outdoor time by talking to them about they are experiencing. Describe the experience ”Doesn’t the breeze blowing in your hair feeel good?’ and enjoy the sounds together: “Do you hear the wind chimes clinking? cling-clang, cling clang.”
Outdoor play is essential for children’s health and well being. For Day Nursery teachers, the outdoors offers many ways to enrich the curriculum and support children’s development and learning. Plant a seed today with your child about creating a garden. Whether it is in a container on your back porch or in your yard, your garden is a natural laboratory for scientific exploration.