Garden themes for preschool children can be a lot of fun. After all, what preschooler doesn't love to get his or her hands dirty, see plants grow, and watch the dynamic environment of a garden.
Garden Themes for Preschool Children
When working with preschoolers, there are several ways in which you can divide up the study of gardens:
- The life cycle of a garden (from planting to harvesting)
- Environmental impact of gardening
The possibilities are really endless, but the important thing to remember when teaching preschoolers is that the process has to be hands on and it has to be interesting.
Who is a Pollinator
Pollinators have a very important job in a garden. They spread pollen from one flower to another thus causing the flowers to grow.
- Make a Pollinator Book--Every page of the book should have a picture for the child to color of a pollinator. Preferably, the pollinators are indigenous to the area, and so in theory, they could see something from their book as they're walking around outside. Underneath every picture, there should be the following simple sentence:
'The (Fill in the blank with a pollinator) helps spread pollen.'
In class, make sure and discuss that pollen is the way that new flowers grow.
- Study the lifecycle of a butterfly--Butterflies give way to all sorts of creative art projects. If you can get a butterfly observation house, this is the ideal way to observe a butterfly from the caterpillar stage all the way to the end result.
- Read Eric Carle's A Very Hungry Caterpillar--Children love this book, and what a great way to introduce the concept of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.
The parts of a flower are an important scientific concept. Your classroom should have a poster that clearly labels the parts of a flower. At this level, it's important that preschoolers understand the function of petals, roots, and leaves.
- How does the flower get the water?--One way to show that the roots of a flower suck water up through the stem is to color carnations. To do this you will need:
- a white carnation for every child in your classroom
- a tall cup for every child in your classroom
- a few drops of food coloring
What to do:
Have the children decorate their cups. Using a pitcher pour some water into each child's cup and then add a drop or two of food coloring. This experiment is best done on a Friday afternoon. By Monday, when the children come back, the flowers will be colored. This helps "show" the kids that the water was sucked up through the stem to color the petals.
The Life Cycle of a Garden
This is the ideal thematic unit if your preschoolers have a garden to work in. Many schools are starting a "green thumb" program, and so if your school has land but no garden perhaps a simple proposal to the principal will do the trick. This is also a great activity to share with the kindergarten teacher since gardening works in seasons. Preschoolers who plant in the spring can harvest in the fall of kindergarten. However, if you don't have a garden and can't get one, there are still a few ways to exercise your kids' green thumbs.
- Container gardening--Tomatoes will grow consistently well in a garden and are also fairly easy to grow with quick results making them the ideal vegetable for preschoolers!
- Window boxes--Window boxes filled kitchen herbs also grow well and do not require a lot of upkeep. Start the kitchen herbs from plants to ensure that your little ones don't lose interest.
Keep a chart on your wall that follows the life cycle of your garden from planting to harvesting. Make sure that when you harvest, your kids will be able to taste the fruit (or vegetables) of their labor!
Environmental Impact of Gardening
Gardening offers numerous benefits to the environment aside from just making it look prettier. Likewise, poor gardening practices can harm the environment.
- Compost--Talk about the benefits of composting and what composting does to help your garden. Composting is easy to do on your own as well.
- Locavores--Using a large map, try to trace the food that you eat to its original source. Have kids think about what they have eaten and then note how much could be eaten from local farms. If possible, have a local farmer visit the classroom. If that's not possible take a field trip to either a local farm or a farmer's market.
More Resources to Explore Garden Themes for Preschoolers
Garden themes for preschool children can be an excellent way to get kids interested in the environment. There are many, many excellent resources available to further study gardening:
- Kids Gardening-An excellent website with tons of information, lesson plans and links.
- Kids' Valley Garden--Very kid friendly website with easy to follow directions for gardening.
- My First Garden--Short on space? This website has tons of ideas for "clever gardening."
- Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots--An excellent book full of garden themes for preschool children.
- Green Thumbs: A Kid's Activity Guide to Indoor and Outdoor Gardening--An excellent resource for year round projects. Written to be read by a child, this is a great guide for a parent who is new-to-gardening, and the projects are suitable to do with preschoolers.