By Beth Pinyerd
Ecclesiastes 3:1,2 states, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot.”
I hope this article can help young families, as you might be planting seeds with your young children at this time. This past week at summer school at Trinity United Methodist Preschool, I had the joy of reading “The Sunflower Parable” by Liz Curtis Higgs to the preschoolers. It is a wonderful book to read to your children and grandchildren. It’s a story about a young gardener who hopes to grow sunflowers that reach all the way to heaven. The father, the farmer in the story, guides the young gardener to realize that it is right to plant seeds in the ground, but it is also valuable to plant seeds in the hearts of family, friends and neighbors.
Summer does bring in that good old planting fever of things coming up new. What better time to ask your little one to be your gardening buddy? Young children can learn so very much about our beautiful world when you include them in a time-well-spent lesson. Also, in a few weeks they will be able to see the results of their digging and planting efforts, so let’s get ready to not only nurture our yards and gardens but to nurture our young children with time well spent.
Simply explaining photosynthesis — that it takes soil, sun, water and seeds for plants to grow — can be done before planting. You can draw this on a piece of paper or poster so young children can visualize what is going to happen after they plant their seeds.
I love to plant rye grass because it comes up so quick and is such a beautiful green. Children can see the results of their planting quickly. Use a Styrofoam cup or empty a half-pint or pint-sized milk carton. You can make an animal face on the cup or carton. Children can choose to draw and do a craft for a ladybug, butterfly, rabbit, dog, etc. They can use googly eyes, construction paper ears, mouth, etc. Let your child be the creative one. With July 4th right around the corner, they can also make a patriotic pot.
In showing how seeds germinate and grow, try to pick up some large butterbean seeds. Use a small Ziploc bag, wet paper towel and tape. Tape the seeds inside the bag and put the wet paper towel to the back of the taped seeds. Tape the bag up on a window where the sun shines in. Over a two-week period observe how the sprouts begin to grow. Have your child record his or her observations by drawing what they see. By this experiment children are able to see a root grow, which pushes the leaf up to the top. Your young scientist will be fascinated by this experiment.
“Planting a Rainbow” for ages 2 to 6 is a colorful book you will want to check out at the library or buy at a local bookstore. This book is like a guide with child-appropriate pictures on the whole planting process from buying seeds, arranging a garden, seeing a garden grow and learning different flowers by their colors. You can follow up this book by visiting a garden center or nursery to see the different flowers and identify them by touching and smelling.
Going to the store to buy the seeds can be a learning experience as well as you and your child look and choose seeds appropriate for our region of the country. Go to the dollar store to pick up an inexpensive plastic shovel, bucket and water pail. If an indoor garden is chosen by you and your child, a bag of soil will need to be picked up.
You and your child choose the kind of garden you want to plant. It may be out in the yard, in small pots or an indoor garden. Carefully read the directions on the seed packets to know how deep each seed must be planted. The seed packets will also tell you when and where to plant and how much sunshine is needed as well as water. Children can learn about measuring when planting seeds.
In planting your seeds, take time with your child in teaching and talking about the seeds they can plant in their little hearts: the seed of kindness, the seed of helping others, the seed of self-control, the seed of patience and the seed of love will help them to grow to be a beautiful flower of a person that will be adored by all.
I hope this article helps during this week’s theme of gardening.