Gardening in Early Years
Summer is here and that hopefully means more time for gardening for early years. When the children look around their outdoor environment they are starting to see lots of signs of summer and lots of vibrant colours. Plants in the outdoor garden area are starting to bloom. This enhances their senses, their creativity and learning opportunities. In your curriculum planning it is a good idea to include gardening and also the care of your gardening environment. This brings extended learning about growth, nature, colours and science. It also provides more language opportunities for children.
Gardening and especially vegetable gardening is perfect for providing exploring and thinking, communication and well-being in an early years setting, thus linking to Aistear themes. It also promotes motor skill activities for children and provides children with opportunities to learn about caring for and respecting the environment around them.
TIPS for Gardening in Early Years
- Involve children in choosing what to plant.
- Ask the children to smell any herbs. This allows them to learn about the difference senses in gardening.
- Encourage children to sow, weed and water the plants. Children usually love watering as it involves some messy play.
- Keep your gardening area varied, if you have the space.
- Use child-sized hand tools. These are available from local hardware stores.
- Create a chart as a display showing the seasons and what grows when. Think about how this can link to other learning activities e.g. circle time, art, reading.
- Include age appropriate gardening books in your reading area such as: The Early Years Gardening Handbook : A Step-by-step Guide to Creating a Working Garden for Your Early Years Setting – Sue Ward
Lots of other recommended reading that you can include in your learning environment can be found on www.delightfulchildrensbooks.com
Teagasc also have a good resource that you can use as part of your planning `A Guide to Vegetable Growing`. The age appropriate sections can be include in your planning to assist learning in this area.
Are you using your garden as an extended classroom? Is gardening an activities children look for and are provided in your service?
Send us in some pictures of your area or activities to share in future blogs or on our facebook page.