Small gardens, growing minds

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Have you ever thought of making a small garden? A garden made just for your little one, with all the colour and vibrance of childhood in one tasty place?  

This summer, grab the spade and gardening gloves and have a go at creating a safe and healthy green space where your little one can grow their own plants while growing their little minds and vocabulary as well! A small garden can encourage learning and literacy through play as well as nurturing an appreciation of the life cycle of plants. 

Start off with some child-friendly herbs and veggies that are easy to grow and will germinate quickly, such as beans, mint, baby carrots and tomatoes. Get your little one involved in decision-making – what to buy and where to plant it – so they feel a sense of ownership and accomplishment when their seeds begin to sprout. Suggestions for easy to grow and eat plants can be found here

Add some vibrant flowers such as marigolds, sunflowers and even lavender for its beautiful smell. These hardy options can withstand a little neglect, but they’ll be a visual pay-off your child will love – the fruits of the labour shall we say. 

Choosing bright colours and a variety of shapes and sizes creates opportunities for learning, as your garden takes shape, use this as an opportunity to talk about the different features and textures of the plants. Use descriptive words like, smooth and rough, or tall and skinny.   

Enjoy tasting the different vegetables or fruits and explore how to use them in the kitchen. Before long, your small garden will see other insects take up residence. These mini marvels can provide hours of discovery as you wonder together about their colours, how many legs they have, what their purpose is and how they work together to help your garden grow. 

“Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow …?” 

For added interest and creativity, invite your child to decorate their garden space with paint, stickers and toys. Bring art outside with paints, crayons, paper and look to your garden for inspiration. You can use leaves, small twigs or flowers to make ephemeral art. You could even build a shady spot or tee pee den to share a book outside together. 

If you don't have the space to plant a small garden, try creating a window box or plant some seeds in containers. You can even grow some fruits and vegetables in hanging baskets if floor space is lacking. 

A small veggie or flower garden is a great addition to your backyard that all the family can enjoy, but children especially as they watch their hard work come to fruition and (hopefully) taste what they grow!  

For small garden inspiration, try searching for these titles at your local library: 

  • Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert 
  • Grow Your Own by Esther Hall 
  • How to Grow a Friend by Sara Gillingham 
  • Anywhere Farm by Phyllis Root 
  • The Secret Sky Garden by Linda Saray and Fiona Lumbers 
  • The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle 
  • Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner 
  • Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert 
  • A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston 
  • Eddie’s Garden and How to Make Things Grow by Sarah Garland 

And check out this blog for more tips on how to grow your child’s vocabulary with gardening. 

First 5 Forever sessions are free at your local public library! Join other families and enjoy a fun adventure with your little one.

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