Thursday, 21 November 2013

Toddler Play - Spring In The Garden

Children love being outdoors and there's no better time for being in the garden than spring. Here in Melbourne it's been a cool spring, but the girls and I have still been busy outside. There are lots of simple ways to get children involved in the garden and all of them allow children to learn and get active.

One of the easiest things for the girls to do has been to help me spread straw, mulch, compost and fertiliser around the garden and in the chicken pen. Straw especially can be easily carried by little people and spread around. They don't have to be terribly neat about it and it's fun to throw around.

We have acquired some toddler-sized gardening tools since moving here - gloves, a trowel, fork and rake, a bucket and a small wheelbarrow. These work well because they're the right size. Gumboots are also essential garden attire. The girls have a space under the cedar which is their digging area. Miss 3 especially enjoys getting out with a toddler-sized spade and filling the bucket with dirt, whilst Miss 2.5 likes to transport the dirt from under the cedar around to the other beds
in the garden with her wheelbarrow.

Misses 2.5 and 3 enjoy planting things too. One of the first things that I had them plant here were pansies right along the front verandah. They were excited to dig the holes and "tickle the bottoms" of the seedlings as they came out of the punnets. Now we have a hedge of pansies and each day both girls announce proudly that they planted them and pick their favourite flowers, gifting them to various people who come over. And because they've practised on inexpensive hardy plants, they are now confident and capable about "tickling the bottoms" of other plants that we put in the garden.

I've found that watering the garden is one of the most popular activities. We only have two watering cans at them moment - a big one for me and a little one for the girls - and when visiting children are over there are battles over whose turn it is to water next.

Over the last few months, we have planted many vegetable and fruit seeds and seedlings. The girls have watched the little plants sprout and the fruit slowly ripen. They check to see if any strawberries are ripe each day and happily pick peas and herbs for dinner. It's interesting that Miss 2.5 is not particularly fond of green leafy vegetables at the moment, but she will wander up to plant pots and pick rocket or lettuce that she planted and munch away. We've got some sunflower seeds to plant today and I'm hoping that they will do well, because they will be interesting when they are big.

As we get more beds established, I'm looking forward to giving the girls their own bed to plant and seeing what they choose to grow. Hopefully they choose some good companion insect attracting plants, since they both love finding a caterpillar or ladybird and investigating it.

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