“Look Ma’am! The mustard seeds have sprouted in my pot,” said Siddharth excitedly to his teacher.
A few days ago, during a gardening session at school, Siddharth sowed the mustard seeds he had brought from home. Today, he got the fruits of sown seeds, a beginning to new life, the most important lesson children learn get from gardening. Kids get firsthand experience of life nurtured by themselves.
Gardening also provides unparalleled experiences to your kids—enhance the skills of enquiry, observation, experimentation and conclusion.
It boosts a child’s confidence and encourages his/her hands on discovery and curiosity. Above all, this is the fun learning and bonding activity for kids and parents too.
If you are also excited to introduce your kid to different plants and flowers, don’t wait for the right time to come. You can introduce gardening to your child at any age.
Here are a few creative ways to help your child to identify plants and flowers:
1) Get started
Divya , a nursery teacher at Kids’ Planet Preschool, always prefers to acquire innovative approach to help her students sustain their interest in learning. She has created flashcards of vegetables, flowers, and fruits to play an interesting game in her class.
“We first ask students to colour the printed pictures of fruits/vegetables/flowers and then use them. We divide the kids into smaller groups and play the game to help them identify vegetables, flowers, etc. They enjoy this activity and it’s quite effective.” she says.
You can also use picture charts of vegetables/flowers; printable-learning sheets like vegetable/fruits bingo, match the name-picture activity; etc.
This stage of identifying plants and its products like vegetables, flowers, and fruits is the beginning stage, which kids acquire at a slow pace. You, then, help your child understand and explore.
2) Children books
My niece Pari is a book lover already. She is just about nine months old and her favourite book is about different flowers.
“I point out at the picture of the flower and tell her the name. Lotus is her favourite flower. She always wants me to turn the page to see lotus. She would point out at the pictures and say ‘Ubboo, ubboo‘,” says my cousin Shalini with broad smile on her face.
It’s quite amazing how much information you can find in children’s picture books. If you are a parent of a baby, invest in board books. They are non-tearable! They are available in many colourful varieties that will encourage your toddler to read them.
Show the pictures of flowers and plants to your kid as you read out the names. This way you can make learning easy for your child.
Pratima, a preschool teacher from Little diamonds school, has a simple approach to teaching her students about different kinds of flowers. She asks them to collect two or three different kinds of flowers. She, then, collects the flowers from students and tells the names of flowers to the class aloud.
“I ask them about their favourite flowers and plants. Then, ask them to draw these flowers and plants in a paper. To give them more scopes to explore, I also ask them to collect different flowers’/ plants’ pictures from magazines or newspapers and ask them to make collage with the help of their teachers and parents,” says Pratima.
A creative perspective to teach tiny tots about plants and the parts, don’t you think so?
While learning to identify plants and flowers theoretically is one thing, but it’s the practical experience that enriches a toddler’s learning curve. Gardening is one such activity.
Now then, if you are a plant lover and want to introduce gardening to your children, here are a few practical concepts to introduce:
1) Explore in dirt
Swati tells her five-year-old, who is trying to dig into a small mound of clay. She is afraid that her daughter may catch some infection!
Parents can sometimes can be finicky about cleanliness, but gardening offers a wonderful sensory experience for a child!
So let your child play in the dirt, make mud pies. Encourage him/her to help you in gardening. You can do this by visiting nursery, showing pictures, and photographs on gardening.
“As your kids learn gardening, they too grow up with growing plants. I bought both my daughters gardening tools to let them explore the interesting nature all by themselves.” says Shirin, a mother of two.
“They can help get supplies (like lining the surface with newspaper, fill water in a can) ready. By using the gardening tools, they can dig into ground and make the soil ready for planting.” explains Shirin on how children can help in gardening.
You can also give responsibility of watering the plants daily to boost your little one’s love for the nature.
2) Kitchen garden
“A few months ago,my daughter and I planted few chilli seeds in the pot. I bought her a small watering can and she took the responsibility of the plant. After a few days, she was amazed to seed tiny sprouts. As plant started to grow, it filled her eyes with wonder every time she saw the plant.” says Kirti, a mom of four-year-old.
“Her pride, in seeing me using ‘her’ green chilli in my cooking, was priceless. She is now very eager to grow even onion plant,” she adds.
Growing your kid’s own kitchen garden can be a wonderful idea. It not only encourages him/her to involve in gardening, but also makes him/her feel more responsible.
Another advantage, which all parents would not like to miss, is nutrition. Your child will love munching on the vegetables harvested by him/her even though he never liked them before.
Your little one would feel more satisfied for having nurtured those vegetables himself/herself.
If you already have few plants in your backyard, help your child identify the vegetables and flowers. Begin there.Also have your kids’ say in gardening. Let them go ahead with their own kitchen garden, be it at the small scale. It would be fun learning experience for them.
Don’t worry if you don’t have backyard, next point is an alternative to backyard garden.
3) Speed garden
Suman is a health conscious mom who gives a bowl of sprouts to her kids every day. A few nights ago, as Suman soaked some green gram seeds in water, two-half-year-old Swara asked her, “Momma, why are you soaking this in water?”
Suman had explained how water helps seeds grow intro sprouts. The next morning as Swara entered the kitchen, she was more keen on observing if the sprouts appeared. The sprouts had not yet appeared.
All that the little one said was an “Oh,” before leaving the kitchen She kept coming to kitchen every two hours to check if the sprouts had grown. Luckily, a few sprouts grew which Suman was able to show.
Curiosity is natural in kids. Unfortunately, patience is not the virtue in toddlers! So, choose speed-gardening techniques like plastic cup, growing jar, etc. that are the easier ways to introduce gardening to children.
Quick growing plants are rewarding for children. Try the plants such as sunflower, mustard, grams, etc. This will also help your child identify the plants based on the way a plant grows-slow and fast growth.
These are some of the methods with which you can introduce your child to gardening and thus to identifying plants and flowers!
Do you have ideas to help your child identify plants and flowers? Share an idea or two with us.
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