Planting a garden is a fun thing to do as a family. Not only is it good exercise being outside weeding and watering but it also promotes nutrition as gardening might encourage your children to try new vegetables. You don’t need a big backyard to garden either. If you have a sunny balcony you can plant a number of different vegetables and herbs together in a container. Spring or early summer (depending on where you live and what your growing season is like) is a great time to do this theme day.
Print out the Family Theme Day Planner and decide which activities you’d like to do and in what order.
Simon and Garfunkle’s “Scarborough Fair” lists “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme” in its lyrics, all herbs in our small garden so we listen to that song to prepare for some gardening.
If you can think of any other garden related songs email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
“Mary Mary quite contrary” is a rhyme for this theme day. Check here for the words and the historical/symbolic meaning of the poem (which has nothing to do with gardening and is quite morbid so it might appeal to older children but not little ones): http://www.famousquotes.me.uk/nursery_rhymes/mary_mary_quite_contrary.htm
You can find many free colouring pages online by using your favourite search engine and typing in “Garden Colouring Page” or “Flower Colouring Page” or “Vegetable Colouring page” or print out my “What’s in Your Garden Colouring Page” and have your children draw their own plants above and below ground.
JOURNALING QUESTION PROMPT:
Write out one or more of the following questions in your Family Theme Day Scrapbook or on a piece of paper to glue in your scrapbook: What do you like to plant in a garden? How do you look after a garden? If you could plant a garden what would plant in it? Write about a time you visited a garden.
Choose the level of your child:
¨ Toddler – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and have your child draw a picture of the answer.
¨ Preschooler/Kindergartener – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and write the answer down for him/her leaving one word for him/her to write out himself/herself with your help. You could also encourage him/her to draw a picture as well.
¨ Early Grade School – have your child either write out the answer himself/herself (encourage phonetic spelling) without your help, or offer to help with spelling each word out loud one word at a time.
¨ Grade School – have your child write a sentence or two on his/her own and then read over and discuss the response. (You decide whether to correct the spelling or not)
¨ Older Child – have your child write a longer response (paragraph).
¨ As A Challenge – instead of a question ask your older child to write a story or a poem about a garden or gardening.
Print out a Garden Word Search:
Easy Garden Word Search or Difficult Garden Word Search.
Check here for the answer keys:
Easy Garden Word Search Key or Difficult Garden Word Search Key.
Raid your child’s bookshelves to find any books on or about gardens or gardening.
Go to the library with your child to find some books about gardens.
Go to the library on your own to find books about gardens or gardening from both fiction and nonfiction to have already on hand for your theme day. Many libraries allow you to go online and search for titles based on subject (search for “Garden” under “children’s books”). Reserve them if you can to save time.
Here are some picture books about gardens:
· Eddie’s Garden and How to Make Things Grow, by Sarah Garland, This book follows Eddie, his mum and baby sister Lily as they buy seeds, plant them , tend them and enjoy them when they grow into a big beautiful garden. It even includes hints on how to grow the plants/vegetables in the story at the end of the book.
· Flower Garden, by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt, Harcourt Brace & Company, 1994—A little girl and her father buy flowers at the grocery store and plant them in a planter for their apartment window as a surprise for her mother in this beautifully illustrated and simply worded story.
· Jack’s Garden, by Henry Cole, Greenwilow Books, 1995 – Following the pattern of “The House that Jack Built” this story shows the reader “the garden that jack planted” from soil, seed, rain, sprouts, plants, buds, flowers, insects and birds. Each page is covered in beautifully detailed illustrations of various plants, bugs and birds.
· The Magical Garden of Claude Monet, by Laurence Anholt, Barron’s Educational Series, Inc., 2003—This wonderful story is based on the true of a little girl named Julie (daughter of painter Berthe Morisot) who travels with her mother to the famous impressionist painter Claude Monets garden in Giverny in France. It cleverly includes some of Monet`s paintings throughout the story.
· One Watermelon Seed, by Celia Barker Lottridge and illustrated by Karen Patkau, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2008 – Bright illustrations adorn this counting book as it follows two children and the various seeds they plant first counting from 1 to 10 and then when they harvest the vegetables counting by tens from 10 to 100.
· Over in the Garden, by Jennifer Ward and illustrated by Kenneth J. Spengler, Rising Moon, 2002 – This beautifully illustrated counting book follows the pattern of “Over in the Meadow” and counts baby insects as they follow their mothers throughout a garden. The fun illustrations include a hint for what the next insect will be and a hidden number.
· Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden, photography by Shmuel Thaler and story by George Levenson, Tricycle Press, 1999 – This informative book shows the life cycle of the pumpkin from seed to pumpkin and back to seed again.
· The Surprise Garden, by Zoe Hall and illustrated by Shari Halpern, The Blue Sky Press, 1998 – A group of kids plant some seeds not knowing what will grow.
· Zinnia’s Flower Garden, by Monica Wellington, Dutton Children’s Books, 2005 – A girl named Zinnia plants and cares for flowers. This bright book has little facts about gardening included in the illustrations making it not only a picture book but an educational book as well.
Here are some non-fiction books about gardening:
· Grow It Cook It: Simple Gardening Projects and Delicious Recipes, recipes by Jill Bloomfield, DK Publishing, 2008 – This is an easy to follow book and is a great beginners guide to gardening. Using lot of photographs this book gives gardening hints from the tools needed to planting seeds and seedlings, and includes step by step instructions on seventeen different plants and then has recipes that match each plant/vegetable/fruit.
· Looking Closely Inside the Garden, by Frank Serafini, Kids Can Press, This is a it of a guessing book with a part of a big photograph circled on a black page and the words “Look very closely. What do you see?” presented for each picture and then when you turn the page the full picture is revealed as well as facts on the subject: butterflies, flowers, crickets, earthworms etc.
· My first Garden Book, by Angela Wilkes, Stoddart, 1992—Using lots of photographs and labels, this is a good book for budding gardeners of school age. It explores the tools needed, and provides step by step photos for many different projects including handing baskets, small desert gardens, strawberry pots, and planting fruit seeds among others.
· Plants Need Sunlight, by Christine Petersen, Cherry Lake Publishing, 2009—This is a great beginner reader science book with photographs.
· Ready, Set, Grow! A Kid’s Guide to Gardening, by Rebecca Spohn, Good Year Books,2007—This is a super book with lots of gardening tips, experiments, facts, puzzles, recipes, and even crafts made from garden vegetables.
FLOWER STICKER COLLAGE:
Materials: Flower stickers, colored paper (we used brown for the soil and blue for the sky and glued the two colours together), markers or crayons (optional).
Step 1: Have your child create a garden scene using stickers.
Step 2: If your child wants he/she can also add details using crayons and markers.
Step 3: Display or glue into your Family Theme Day Scrapbook.
MAGAZINE GARDEN COLLAGE:
Materials: old magazines, colored paper, glue stick, child safe scissors, damp cloth for sticky fingers.
Step 1: Search through old magazines for pictures of flowers and plants.
Step 2: Cut the pictures out and put them in a pile.
Step 3: Let your child glue them in any fashion on a piece of colored paper.
Step 4: Display or glue in your Family Theme Day Scrapbook.
Materials: old magazines, colored paper, glue stick, child safe scissors, damp cloth for sticky fingers.
Step 1: Search through old magazines for different colours to be used as vegetables. For instance you can use the green from a photo of a tree to be the green part of a carrot. Rip out various colours (we used green, red, yellow, purple, blue and orange).
Step 2: Use these colours to create simple pictures of vegetables by cutting out shapes and gluing them to a sheet of paper. For a cherry tomatoes we cut out small circles out of red (from a picture of a couch) and then cut out some green (from the background of an ad) into star shapes for the stem. If you have younger children you can do the cutting for them but have your children help you decide on the vegetables, shapes and colours to use and let them do the gluing.
Step 3: Display or glue in your Family Theme Day Scrapbook.
PAINTED SEED POTS:
Materials: Small clay pots from craft store or gardening store, paints, paint brushes, newspaper or plastic to cover table, old clothes or art smock to protect clothes
Step 1: Let your child choose the colours or paint he/she wishes to use.
Step 2: Let your child paint on the outside of the clay pot.
Step 3: Let the pot dry before using it in the “Learning Activities” section below.
DECORATED PLASTIC CUP:
Materials: Recycled plastic (or paper) cup, stickers.
Step 1: Let your child decorate the plastic or paper cup with stickers.
Step 3: Use it in the “Learning Activities” section below.
Materials: paints or markers, craft sticks or popsicle sticks (newspaper or plastic to cover table, old clothes or art smock to protect clothes if you are using paint).
Step 1: Write a list of which plants/ flowers/ vegetables you are going to plant in your garden.
Step 2: Let your child decorate the craft sticks/popsicle sticks to illustrate what plants you have.
Step 3: Let the sticks dry and then use them in your garden by sticking them in the soil beside the seedling that matches or where the matching seeds have been planted.
GREEN THUMB PRINTS:
Tell your child about what it means to have a green thumb and then make this simple craft.
Materials: green paint, paper, waxed paper, newspaper or plastic to cover table, old clothes or art smock to protect clothes
Step 1: Pour some paint onto a piece of waxed paper.
Step 2: Show your child how to pres his/her thumb into the green paint and then press it on to a scrap sheet of paper to get rid of excess paint and then press it onto a piece of paper to create a green thumb picture.
Step 3: repeat and press thumb prints all over the page.
Step 4: Let the picture dry and then display or glue into your Family Theme Day Scrapbook.
PAINTED GARDEN PICTURE:
Materials: paints in many different colours, paint brushes, white paper, jar of water and paper towels, newspapers or plastic to cover your work area, old clothes or art smock to protect clothes.
Step 1: Let your budding artist create his/her own garden scene with the paints.
Step 2: Allow the picture to dry and then display or glue it into your Family Theme Day Scrapbook.
Veggies and dip would be a nice healthy snack for this theme day. If you happened to plant some of the same vegetables in your garden talk about how much sweeter vegetables from the garden will taste.
Vegetable soup matches this theme day as well. You can talk about how you will make homemade soup using your own vegetables from your garden as well if you’d like.
NOTE: My husband made up this recipe when I was pregnant. It was healthy and allowed me to choose foods that my nauseas and picky stomach wanted at the time. We’d gather around the bowl as we sat on the couch and enjoyed our salad together.
Ingredients: mixed lettuce, various raw veggies (we use celery, carrots, cucumbers and grape tomatoes), various fruits (we use raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, chopped apple and peeled and chopped orange), various types of cheese (we use cheddar and swiss or whatever is on hand) cut into cubes, sliced deli ham or other lunch meat (optional), salad dressing is optional (the fruit and cheese offer a lot of flavour so dressing isn’t really required).
Step 1: Chop and mix lettuce, veggies, fruits and cheese and put in a large bowl.
Step 2: Give every family member a fork.
Step 3: Sit together (on a picnic blanket, around a coffee table, on the couch...) and dig in.
Fruit Flower Dessert:
Ingredients: chocolate pudding, strawberries, green grapes
Step 1: Make chocolate pudding according to package (or buy pre-made) and spoon pudding in each bowl (one for each person).
Step 2: Cut strawberries in half lengthwise and then again to make flower petals. Arrange strawberries in a circle on top of the pudding in a flower shape.
Step 3: Cut a grape in half and put a one half of the grape in the middle of each flower.
PLANT SEEDS IN SMALL CLAY POTS/PLASTIC CUPS:
Use the small clay pots or plastic/paper cups decorated as a craft (see above) and put some potting soil in each one. Give your child some seeds to plant in the small pots by pressing a hole in the dirt and dropping some seeds in. Cover the seeds with soil and gently pat down. Place the pots in a sunny area and water when needed.
If you have a big garden in your yard encourage your child to help you plant seeds or seedlings. If you don’t have a garden or big yard or even if you have no yard at all and only a small balcony you can still plant using containers as we’ve done. Many cities also have community gardens where your family can plant in a little plot; see what is available in your community.
If your child has planted a seed in his/her decorated cup (see above) or if you have a family garden print out my Garden Journal Worksheet and help your child fill it out recording the date and any changes to the plants.
This site offers lots of information on gardening with your kids: http://www.gardening-with-kids.com/
Q: Why did the gardener plant seeds in the pond?
A: He wanted to grow watermelon.
Q: What flower grows between your nose and your mouth?
Q: What kind of beans can't grow in a garden?
Q: What did one rose say to the other?
Search through your child’s DVD/ video collection (or visit your local library before hand or the Video Store) to find your child’s favourite shows with gardens in them.
For young children try to find an episode of:
· Fifi and the Flower Tots
For older kids try the movie:
· The Secret Garden. There is a picture book The Secret Garden, illustrated by Mary Collier, based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Harper Collins, 1998) that is basically a summary of the novel.
WATER THE PLANTS:
If you have a garden or containers of plants already growing encourage your child to help you water (and weed) them.
Visit a greenhouse or a garden centre just for fun and explore the trees, flowers and vegetables available. If you are planting in your own garden or in containers pick out some seeds or seedlings together as a family. Letting your children choose the vegetables and herbs and then plant and care for them may encourage them to try new foods.
Visit a garden together as a day trip. Many cities have lovely large botanical gardens with trails. Pack a picnic and explore the garden together noting the different plants around you.
Our container garden from 2009:
peppers, oregano and thyme.
Photo: C Wright
Flower Sticker Picture
Magazine Garden Collage
Painted Clay Pots
Painting by my son (aged 7)
Our little flower garden 2009
Green Thumb Prints
Decorated Plastic Cup for planting seeds
Photo: C Wright