Tommy and LJ love our garden, they love Mamma’s greenhouse (Tommy has been calling me that since he began talking and couldn’t say grandma). We are learning so much by playing outdoors just in this small space.
I wanted to share some free and inexpensive ideas for developing your garden and using it for fun learning
- I’ve left a patch of grass ‘wild’ to encourage butterflies and bees. It looks very wild now and the grasses are almost waist height for Tommy and LJ. They love walking through this and feeling the different textures as well as looking for butterflies.
- Seeds – I saved seeds from poppies, sweet peas and foxgloves last year and we planted these earlier this year. They understand the sequence of plant pot, soil, seeds, more soil, water and writing a label and can now plant seeds with very little help.
- We won a book on Toppsta called ‘Bee and me’ this is a stunning book all about the friendship between a little girl and a bee. It arrived with a packet of beautifully illustrated seeds. Obviously we planted theses and nurtured them ( toppsta is a site where you can look at book reviews and recommendations but can also win ‘ giveaways- well worth a look)
- As a result of the above we now spend a lot of time looking for ‘buzzy bees’ and talking about pollen and flowers.
- I caught Tommy outside with his camera taking ‘photos of flowers like mamma’
- We allow the kids to fill up the bird feeders and that’s one of the things they ask to do now.
- Tommy has a digger with a bucket on the front and we collect small items to fit in, leaves, feathers, stones all the while talking about big and little
- We listen for sounds – I could have cried when Tommy said ‘listen to the birds singing’ -Tommy particularly likes aeroplane spotting.
- We have picked tomatoes from the green house and eaten them outside ( I have stressed he must always ask me first before eating anything!! Paranoid grandma.)
- Tommy uses the hosepipe to water the tubs and we are gradually learning what is the correct amount of water – we’ve had weeks of too much water to get to this stage!
None of this is rocket science I know but I’ve really started to learn about the joys of outdoor learning as I have been privileged to work with Juliet Robertson ( take a look at her blog there are so many ideas on there!) on two of her books Dirty Teaching and Messy Maths ( both by Crown House ). I now think about the language I use and can see joy in the kids faces when we lay on the floor to look at a green caterpillar or Tommy asks what the berries are on the tree. I love it when they are excited to see starlings feeding their young or when LJ makes piles of pebbles. Yes they get dirty and my hosepipe is Tommy’s favourite toy but they are outside playing and learning to love nature which has got to be a good thing
We did buy some items, a magnifying glass which meant we could look closely for caterpillars and bugs, children’s gardening gloves – they were £1 a pair at a local hardware store, smaller watering cans and the children’s first book of birds from The RSPB.