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Kids at Home 'Goes Green' October: Gardening with Lorraine Pt 2

Kids at Home 'Goes Green' October: Gardening with Lorraine Pt 2
Victoria Breckon
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The beauty of gardening in a home-based programme with low ratios is that you can involve children in every step of the way! "Great things grow from small beginnings", Educator Lorraine has planned a wonderful block on 'The Environment' from October where she will be educating her care children on growing food, plants to encourage bees and butterflies, and of course the process of recycling food scraps. 

In our previous blog post Lorraine and her care children began their project with a visit to the hardware store, collecting their garden supplies and equipment to start their 'big little garden'.  We discussed the educational benefits of teaching and involving children in gardening from a young age, 

Science and Nature 'Pūtaiao' is a core strain of our Te Whāriki curriculum. Such activities can supported by asking questions, inviting children to describe what they can see, supporting them to touch, taste, listen and smell items and encouraging them to come up with their own explanations.

1. Life skills

The seeds and soil combined Lorraine and her care children worked together to provide water and sun each day. What a wonderful teaching opportunity! This is not only a practical skill but also teaching the children about responsibility, planning, routine, physical activity and team work. 

2. Sowing and nurturing your seedlings

Preparing the soil outside is a fun activity! Turning over the garden soil with small garden tools, watering and mixing in any organic matter, potting mix or fertilizer to enrich the soil before planting. Please note, we advise children should wear a face mask and gloves for this activity.  

Ask children open ended questions about this environment and the plants you will be growing, be sure to show enthusiasm yourself! 

After nurturing their germinating seeds for a week or so Lorraine and the children then transferred their seedlings into pots outside! 

"Some of our plants are doing better than others. Corn is high and the beans , where some of our flowers have become "Snail" food . We still have a few to plant out too" - Lorraine

Children are most excited about growing plants that they will then be able to eat which means fruit and vegetables that grow quick are the BEST! Radishes, strawberries, beans, mint,  tomatoes, lettuce, corn, pumpkin and beetroot to name a few produce fruit and vegetables in a short period of time and are easy to care for. Using plants that have sensory and textural qualities are also fantastic for the educational benefits of gardening. A sensory plant has a special smell, taste, touch and is interesting to look at. 

3. Plants are in the ground! Now what?

There are many ways children can help care for a plant to help it grow. 

- Watering the garden

- Helping identify and pull weeds

- Gathering seeds and dried flowers 

- Deadheading any flowers 

- Replanting and repotting 

- Using worms from your worm farm

And of course! Picking vegetables and fruit when they are ready to eat! Don't forget to ask questions such as how do we know they are ripe? How many have we picked? Use your produce together to prepare a healthy snack or meal or perhaps put together a parcel to send home to Mum and Dad! 

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