Since moving to our house last November, I have really tried to get Mina involved with her new natural surroundings. We have planned projects and activities to get her interested and loving the outside. I think that it is important to be able to give children the love of nature. She latched onto the garden bug with full force! It is wonderful!
First, we started with collecting sticks and leaves from around the yard and make a glue project out of it. Then, we progressed to making seed markers for our seedlings and planting the sprouts in the garden. I picked up a book in March called Grow it, Cook It and it gives wonderful ideas on how to a garden with a child from start to finish. The book is a bit old for her, but I liked how it explained the process of seed to sprout, following up with a recipe. I wish I had seen my most recent purchase: Roots Shoots Buckets & Boots before I planted everything this season. The author gives some really fun ideas on how to shape a children’s garden. I think my favorite was the Pizza Garden. You make a circular garden and each “wedge” is an ingredient to use later on your pizza. Once you can harvest your veggies and herbs, there is a a section on throwing a pizza party. How fun would that be!!
The other chapter that caught my eye was the Sunflower House. It gives dimensions, necessary seeds and instructions on how to “build” a house out of giant sunflowers and climbing vines. We have a section of our yard that is behind a small picket fence that would be the perfect spot for a sunflower house! I got Mina involved with her section of the yard by having her paint her little picket fence. She picked raspberry pink for the color and it looks fantastic. We converted the the old dog pen into her sandbox play area and she wanted to paint the stones pink as well. Why not! I drew the line at painting the grass pink! We decided, Mina and I, to trellis the grape arbor over her stones to her sandbox and planted blue flowered steppables in the rest of the dog pen. It is interesting the ideas, good ideas, you can get from a 2+ yr old if you ask and really listen.
She loves all the aspects of gardening now and planted the seeds in the herb box and weeds the driveway. She is so cognizant of weeds that she wants to weed the hiking trails when we go to the mountains. “Mama, someone needs to come and weed here, it is kind of messy with the weeds everywhere!”
This interest in gardening has led to many seed/garden orientated books. She couldn’t care less this winter about Eric Carle’s Tiny Seed, but now she just can’t get enough of it. Sometimes, we have to read it 5 times in a row.
One of the seed books that I have fallen in love with is A Seed Is Sleepy. The illustrations are so beautiful, you want to have them all over your wall. The author writes about each seed and its progression into a flower and the illustrator executes the pictures with the most minute detail.
The Curious Garden is a lovely book about how one person can make a difference. It starts with a gray city with no vegetation whatsoever. A little boy goes for a walk and comes upon a patch of wildflowers by the train tracks. He cultivates them and over time it spreads out over the city, transforming a lifeless bleak existence into a beautiful one. It transforms the people as well. It teaches that no matter who you are or how big/small you are, you can make a difference in people’s lives. That is an important lesson to learn, especially when you are young. It will provide a great foundation for the future.
The last book on our list that is a must if you are doing a garden with a kid is Wiggle and Waggle. It is a small book, great bang for the buck @ $5.95, with four adventures of two worms in a garden. They dig tunnels, they sing songs, they go on a picnic. It is a lot of fun. It is almost like an early introduction to chapter books. It blends perfectly with garden themed activities for young ones. They can look at the pictures of bean sprouts or corn sprouts and say “Hey! I planted those! Maybe Wiggle and Waggle are in MY yard too!” Mina took the book outside when I was prepping the veggie area and tried to identify the worms in the garden as Wiggle or Waggle. If they were more yellow, they were Wiggle. More pink meant that they were Waggle.
Gardening with children is such a wonderful thing to be able to do. We have to go out every morning when we wake up (@ 6 am–YAWN!) and say good morning to her “babies” . She was so excited when she noticed that the corn had a cob on it or as she put it: Look Mama, the corn is cobbing!
It will be fun to watch her actually pull off an ear of corn or pull up a carrot and know that SHE grew it. I wonder what kind of recipe she will come up with … hopefully not cucumbers and cinnamon again. That really wasn’t my favorite.