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Young Sprouts: Spring in the Garden

Activities and Play

6/15/2022 | Emily Jaeger

Spring in the garden is a celebration of beginnings. The ground thaws. Seeds begin to sprout. There is also a deep symbolic connection between the spring garden and early childcare: our young sprouts are starting to make their way into the world. 

Both in the garden and in the classroom there are so many things for learners to discover during this season of transition. Whether you are implementing a gardening program for the first time or returning to a well-loved vegetable patch, springtime means a lot of necessary prep to get your garden up and running. Not to mention all the fun spring garden activities for preschoolers. Make way for spring!

Spring Garden Prep

If your facility has a shared school garden, check in with your appointed garden coordinator to see how your learners can help out. Spring garden prep includes removing any stray weeds or mulch, aerating the soil, and adding compost, as well as planting spring vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, radishes, and carrots. 

Whether you are experimenting with window sill gardening or working together as a school, late winter and early spring is the perfect time to grow seedlings in the classroom. For shared school gardens, contributing some seedlings as a class gives individual learners ownership over the project. Check out this helpful guide for what seeds to start indoors. 

You can plant seeds in store-bought or DIY propagation trays with potting mix. Or have learners decorate cups or flower pots for a fun art project that can remain inside permanently. Remember that seedlings require sunlight and gentle, but consistent water. Try out a couple of different vegetables or flowers. Which plants germinate more quickly? What do different sprouts look like? 

Spring Garden Activities for Kids

Seeds. Where do seeds come from? Do all seeds look the same? What do seeds do? These questions and more are a great entry into this stage of the plant life-cycle. Cut up a bunch of vegetables and fruits so learners can find where each plant makes its seeds. Foster inquisitiveness and practice manual dexterity by challenging learners to remove seeds with tweezers or spoons and then examine them under a microscope.

Germinate seeds in ziplock bags so learners can see exactly how seeds turn into plants. The best part about this experiment is the instant gratification--seeds will begin to sprout within 24 hours. 

 

Seeds come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Put extra garden seeds in spice jars or mini water bottles (make sure to glue on the lid) for learners to explore. What sound do seeds make when you rattle them? Can you guess what plant will grow from which seed? Can they arrange the seeds from largest to smallest or by color?

Bean sorting is a great Montessori-inspired, calming activity for ages 2+ (a.k.a once the little ones have stopped putting every single thing in their mouths). Using two or more varieties of dried beans, have learners sort types of beans into muffin tins or different cups. Learners can use their fingers, tweezers, spoons, or scoops to practice manual dexterity. Hurst’s dry 15 bean soup mix will definitely bring this activity to the next level. 

What happens in the spring? Fostering environmental awareness can sometimes be as simple as paying attention to the natural world. Take a “field trip” to the outdoors and pay attention to spring changes. Warmer weather, plants sprouting, trees budding, birds singing etc. If you have an already established school garden, this is the perfect time to check out what’s happening in the spring garden. 

Introduce learners to seasonal vegetables. Set up a (temporary) sensory table with sugar snap peas, carrots, radishes, and leafy greens for learners to explore. Do a taste test of spring vegetables and graph the results of learners’ favorite spring vegetables. Make a spring salad from these ingredients and practice cutting with Montessori knives or adaptive scissors

Another fun graphing activity is “which flower smells best”. During circle time, let learners decide which of two flowers they think smells the best. Graph the results together as a class. You can even reuse your dried beans for a bean vote

Spring art projects. There are only one million and three spring-themed art projects. You probably already have some favorites. If you haven’t tried these already, here are three more to add to the mix. Nature smash painting uses the pigments in fresh flowers to leave imprints on the page, by, you guessed it, smashing flowers against paper. Reuse that spring vegetable sensory table to make vegetable stamps. Or even try stamping with flowers. 

Emily Jaeger is a professional writer with a background in education (she's taught every age group from preschool to retirement). Her writing has been featured on Parents Magazine, Kveller, Motherfigure and more. You can connect with Emily via her website emilyjaeger.com or on instagram @soulinparaphrase.

Photo by Ella Olsson from Pexels

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