Preschool Planting Unit
"Look Mama! Spring is here!" one of my kids calls from the backyard. Spotting that first flower in the garden after a long cold Winter is one of life's small joys and a true sign that Spring is finally here. My kids are often the ones to notice the newest buds and blooms.
When those first flowers appear is the perfect time to celebrate Spring with your kids or classroom. Below are some ideas for a Preschool Planting Unit.
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I believe firmly in learning through adventure so field trips are often at the center of our learning. They inspire, inform, and excite our learning.
Last year we started our Spring unit with a Flower themed color hunt around the neighborhood to further deepen the early interest in flowers.
Introduce the idea before you go.
We read Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert and then went back through the book reviewing the different colors we saw. As we identified each color, I drew a corresponding circle of the color on a piece of paper for each of them.
You could also bring your DIY Color Swatches along in place of making a list.
*Papers in hand, we headed out into the neighborhood to see what we could spot.
*Consider taking a photo of each flower you find or inviting your child to take a photo.
Back at Home:
*Print photos of the flowers and arrange an invitation to draw at the table.
*Talk about planting your own plants or flowers.
It might be easier to gather the gardening supplies on your own, but I encourage you to resist the urge.
With your child(ren) make a list of what you will need. Draw pictures of each item next to the word to enable them to help and start to draw the connection between words and meaning. This is the sort of learning through adventure that gives children a meaningful context for a concept.
At the Garden Center:
*Focus on only what you need for this project. It is tempting to take care of other errands, but keeping it focused helps your child stay involved and draw a connection between making the list, buying the supplies, and planting.
*Offer your child choices where you can. "This type of seed or this one?" "Do you want to plant purple flowers or red ones?"
*As you shop, refer back to the list often to demonstrate the value of reading and list making.
*If they are interested, help them read the labels on the items you are buying.
Gathering books on a subject is a wonderful way to get children excited and broaden your exploration of a topic. Here are some books in our home library about Gardening.
Beautiful non-fiction book about the rainbow of colors to be found in a garden. Excellent vocabulary and lesson in color recognition. 2+
I wrote a lengthy paper in college about John Coy that was initially inspired by my great affection for this book. A father and daughter discover two old potatoes and decide to grow them. Over the course of a year they plant, care for, and wait for their potatoes to grow. Meanwhile, it is the story of a father and daughter navigating a new divorce and a deepening relationship. It is a warm, patient look at the process of growth both in people and in potatoes. 3+
I have long been a fan of Giselle Shardlow's Kids Yoga Stories. As much as I have liked the other Kids Yoga Stories, Rachel's Day In the Garden is my new favorite. The story is sweet and simple. It tells a Spring story that discusses the colors of the season while integrating simple yoga moves that are timely for the season and age appropriate for two to eight year olds. The yoga positions fit well with in the story and provided us with a pleasant flow that my three year olds found challenging, but doable. My favorite parts of this book, however are the illustrations, which exude the colors of Spring with warmth, texture, and charm. Make sure to visit the Kids Yoga Sitehttp://www.kidsyogastories.com/ if you are interested in more information and resources for doing yoga with young children. 2+
Every now and then an author and illustrator are magically paired and such is the case with Fogliano and Erin E. Stead. Together they balance each other with whimsy, space, and a gentleness that cannot be forced. And Then It's Spring tells the story of a boy who plants and waits. It is a quiet tale of waiting and worry and hope. It is the tale of spring. The magical transformation from brown earth to splendid green that can so rarely be captured outside of reality. Carefully chosen words and soft illustrations, this is a beautiful look at the patient process of planting and the gradual approach of Spring. 2+
A charming and humorous counting book about an old man and a woman and their garden. Together they plant some vegetables in their garden. After the months pass, they decide one morning that it is time to harvest their plants and discover a gigantic turnip. They are surprised to find that they cannot move it, so they enlist their farm animals forming a comical line up of helpers. 2+
In this soft, colorful story a little girl and her dad buy some flowers at the grocery store and lug them home to their apartment. Together they plant them in a window box as a gift for the mother's birthday. A sweet story by the talented Eve Bunting about family, flowers, and simple gifts. 2+
My kids love a good silly story and Fran is silly. She and her dog discover a planted flower stem and want to help it grow. Unfortunately they have no idea how to care for a plant and their diet of pizza and cheeseburgers does not have the effects they were hoping for. Ultimately, mother nature offers a simple lesson in how to help a flower grow. 2+
Completely original look at what is going above and below the ground all year long. Beautiful, soft illustrations and quiet story about a little girl who plants and cares for a garden with her Nana. As a bonus, there is a mountain of information at the back about all those helpful, and not so helpful, little critters down in the dirt. 3+
In Lola's most recent adventure, she becomes enchanted by the darling poem "Mary Mary Quite Contrary" and wants to plant her own flowers. I love the way her book of poems inspires a gardening adventure and a summer of fun. Simple and straightforward but filled with life and color, this is a delightful planting book for young children. 2+
I shared some tips on Pot Planting with Toddlers last year and that is still largely the method I would recommend for preschoolers.
Last year we planted cilantro, basil and other simple herbs. This year we are excited to do some planting with Grandma and see what grows. Planting and caring for plants is an obvious lesson in life cycles, nature, and what something needs to grow.
As popular as this activity may seem, it is an experience that deserves repetition for its importance in developing an understanding and appreciation for living things.
Being a huge supporter of art curriculum inclusion, I am always drawn towards ways to integrate art into learning.
With this unit we not only drew pictures of the flowers we saw on our walk and made suncatchers from the petals we collected, but also made our own Plant Markers. You can search for plant markers on Pinterest and find some super creative ways, one of my favorites being this one from Twig and Toadstool using wooden spoons, but we went with simple ones using materials we had on hand.
Materials: Candy sticks, green cardstock, washi tape, markers, crayons
Process: Cut paper down to desired size. Draw a picture or have your child draw a picture of what they are planting and label it with a word. Fold and tape to the stick using the washi tape. I made some extra to use in our dramatic play.
Note*These were not waterproof so when our twins helped with watering they got a little damaged. Either laminating them or removing while we watered would have been helpful.
Pretend play or dramatic play is an excellent way for children to deepen their understanding and practice roles or ideas they have witnessed in life. This simple tray was arranged and placed in our dramatic play center to further practice the planting process. Our twins later used it to pretend to be a Garden Center as well. Here is what I included:
Extra DIY Plant Markers
Empty Upcycled Seed Packets
Extra Small Pots
Empty Upcycled Snack Container wrapped with construction paper and labeled DIRT
Brown Construction Paper that I tore and balled into small shapes to use as pretend dirt.
The lovely thing about planting is that it doesn't just end there. Plants of all kinds grow and change, endearing themselves to all kinds of activities. Even once your planting unit finishes, continue to follow your plants, care for them, and observe the changes as they grow throughout the Spring.
Planting Materials (extra for play)
Books about Planting (some recommendations above)
Paper, Tape, Markers and Sticks for Markers
Empty Container and Small Scoop
8 Spring Kids Crafts You'll Want to Do Today from Play Dough & Popsicles
Get Outside with a Spring Scavenger Hunt from Crafty Mama in ME
Children's Books About Spring from The Jenny Evolution
Spring Writing Prompts from Schooling a Monkey
The Four Seasons by Vivaldi from Tales of Education at Home
50 Spring Crafts for Kids from Look! We're Learning!
Spring Color by Letter & Sight Word Worksheets from Sight and Sound Reading
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