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  • Summer Learning in the Garden


    With Summer approaching, that means more outside time.More outside time does not mean learning has to cease! There are SO many ways to learn for all grade levels! And there is no better way to continue learning all summer than by creating your own garden!

    Whether you live in a house, apartment or property you can grow a garden! Where you live and how much you want to grow will determine how involved you are. The kids can be involved in all aspects of the creation, too, from the planning to the planting to the harvesting.

    A garden plan for the whole family

    The following are all things you can talk through and plan (which will all involve math, reading, and science!):

    • calculate size/space needed
    • what plants work best for your area?
    • what exactly do you want to plant?
    • when should each item be planted?
    • how large they will grow will determine how much space each item needs
    • for vegetables and fruits, how many plants will feed your family for a given time?

    The more involved your kids are in the preparations for the garden, the more invested they will be in the results. Take them with you to the store to pick out your seed packets. You might even get inspired right there in the seed aisle. Try something new. Studies have found that kids who help grow their own food are more inclined to try new things because they grew them! Kohlrabi was my son’s favorite! Loved the name, loved the look and it tasted great.Also, let them create labels for the plants. Pinterest has so many creative ideas for plant labeling!

    Making your garden kid-friendly
    After the planning stage, it's now time to get your hands dirty. And there are so many ways to make a garden space as much fun for kids as it is for you! For instance:

    • Pots or short raised beds create easy areas for kids to participate
    • Get creative on reusing some old toys as planters! Sand buckets, dump truck or even a doll house make fun resting places for plants
    • Don't forget the child-sized tools and gloves...kids love their own garden tools!

    This next idea is a personal favorite for outside time: creating a fairy garden. Fairy gardens are all the rage right now - - mostly because they are so easy and fun to do. You don’t even have to go to the store. Leftover doll house stuff can be modified to work. You can create your fairy garden in a pot, planter, under a bush or even on p1010486-jpgan old tree stump! Have some scrap wood? Some paint? You're already halfway there! And yes - - even fairy gardens can be educational. Put up a little chalkboard or mailbox so that your child and the fairy can exchange notes! I turned an old dog house into a “gnome” house because it was a little “too large” for fairies. With a few things from the thrift store, some paint from my stash, voila! A house for a gnome named Larry and his pet Moose! You can read about it on my blog, Preschoolers Day by Day!

    Create an entrepreneur
    Once your garden is growing full steam, the learning can still continue! Let your kids set up a farm stand in the neighborhood and sell their extra bounty. (think lemonade stand with a twist!). Or they can create seedlings from their seeds and sell the starters! Also check to see if your local tailgate market, farmers market or extension office does a seed exchange or plant exchange. These can be incredible learning opportunities for your young gardener.

    Don't forget the critters
    While you're setting up your garden area, one idea every child will get on board with is turning part of it into a wildlife habitat that you can observe all summer. If you follow a few simple rules, you can also get it certified as a Wildlife Habitat! Even just by adding a bird bath and/or bird feeder you can observe nature daily. Bird watching and bug watching also help us understand our wildlife numbers (and involve plenty of math and science!).
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