Saturday, March 23, 2013

An Adventure Every Child Will Love

Instead of going to the park this afternoon, Take your child on a Garden Adventure!  It will be a fun, memorable learning experience.    

 Visit your favorite local plant nursery and tell your child that today, they get to buy their very own plant.  It can be strawberries, tomatoes, or flowers that attract butterflies.  Or they can choose an indoor plant like lucky bamboo or a peace lily to keep in their room. 
 Consider guiding them toward something that will keep their attention.  Because my four year old loves looking for ripe strawberries, being responsible for watering the plants and checking for weeds is fun.

 Explain to your child that the plant they choose is just for them and they’ll need to learn how to take care of it.  Read the care instructions on different plant labels with your child and find out where they want to plant it when they get home. 

 Start with the basics:
        ü  Sunlight – Some plants like to be in the sun while others need shade. 
       ü  Food – Plants need food and water to stay healthy, just like we do.  Help your child choose soil that has the right nutrients for their plant. 
      ü  Water and Air – Explain that both are important.  Children get excited and want to be proud of how well they can take care of their plant.  From their point of view, more is always better.  Understanding that their new plant will drown if given too much water will help your child restrain from overwatering it. 

 If their new plant will be kept inside or on the porch, let your child pick out a container for it.  There are many colors and shapes to choose from, but it would be a lot more fun to decorate a plain pot with markers, stickers, glitter, or ribbons.

Weeds steal food and water, and plants don’t like to be too hot or cold.  Mulch can include shells, rocks, sticks, leaves, marbles, or pieces of foam.  If your child is artistic, they can paint their own design on a thick piece of cardboard (use only non-toxic paint).  Let your child use their imagination and be creative.

Have fun!  The more excited your child is about their project, the more likely they will be to take care of their new plant.  You will both be very proud, and your child will remember the things they learned.  It’s these types of bonding experiences that can inspire a life-long joy of gardening, and a love for nature.

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