Spring has sprung ! Our toddler room has recently started garden preparations. We began by selecting what seeds to germinate and what we wanted to see grow in our garden box this summer. The educators provided packages of various seeds for the toddlers to explore before we began the process. We decided on beans, corn, peas and beets, here is how we did it!
We laid out a different seed packages that we anticipted our toddlers would recognize and few that we thought might be new to them. Each toddler then brought a seed package over to an educator and we began the process with the most popular choices (beans, corn, beets and peas). Calvin and Layla were quick to identify the bean packages, while Chloe spotted the corn! Together we explored the new textures of the various seeds. “Yucky,” Sunhei exclaimed as she felt the surface of a beet seed.
The first step was placing the seeds on wet paper towels, then carefully folding it up and inserting it in to zip lock bags, this keeps the seeds warm and moist. We wanted to personized the bags, so after each child had chosen their seed and wrapped it up, an educator wrote their name and the type of seed they had chosen on it. The next step was attaching the bags to our classroom windows, “Brody’s bag!” Brody exclaimed as he identified his name.
Next, we attached the seed bags to the windows. This allowed for the sun to keep the seeds warm as they germinated, as well provided the toddlers an opportunity to observe the growth of the sprouts. One morning as we were looking through the window, Jacob pointed up to a bean labeled bag and excitedly said “WHOOA!” he said as he noticed a green leaf beginning to pop through the paper towel. Once our sprouts had grown large enough it was time to place them into soil, allowing the seedlings to spread their roots and become garden ready.
It was so much fun to reveal the roots and leaves from the paper towels. Calvin was very curious, “Which seed is that?” he continued to ask as we opened more and more of the zip lock bags. Kai recognized the beans from our previous germination process, “MORE BEANS!” he said as he helped carefully remove the growing seeds from the paper towel. We fostered our filling and dumping coordination as we scooped the soil from the bag of potting soil into small paper cups. Once we had placed each seed into the soil, it was time for water! Hadlyn, Evaleigh and Sophia showed great control as they each held the small watering can, “WE ARE WATERING THE PLANTS!” Evaleigh said as she showered the fresh soil with water. We even brought out the spray bottle to ensure we didn’t overwater the seeds. Ava was very excited to see the spray bottles and showed wonderful fine motor control as she squeezed and released the handle.
Growing a garden with our toddlers allows for many opportunities for learning. By involving our toddlers in the process of starting a garden, we are stimulating and engaging their senses. Our toddlers are exploring the various textures of the seeds and their parts as well as the different smells and colours a garden and growing plants can provide. Having plants also instills a sense of responsibility for our toddlers with the duties of watering and tending as well as developing control to ensure a gentle touch when handling the plants. Gardening also helps encourage patience as well as healthy eating! The document, How Does Learning Happen reminds us that, “Children are the keepers of knowledge…when educators take a purposefully curious approach rather than acting as the expert, children are more likely to engage in creative problem solving and more complex play and inquiry (HDLH page 35)”, lets continue to learn together !