Friday, May 30, 2008

Kids in the Garden

It's been over a month since my last installment of "Kids in the Garden." Here are some new ideas for the month:

Turn on the sprinkler! Do you remember running through the sprinkler as a kid? (Are you from the "Slip-and-Slide" generation like me?) Well, encourage your kids to get in touch with the simple life. But, don't just run...discuss the feeling of the grass between your toes. Encourage kids to catch water on their tongues like a flower catches the rain. Look for rainbows. Talk about the warm sun. A good old-fashioned romp through the sprinkler is a great opportunity to experience nature.

(These plants were spotted in our latest garden survey)

As the flowers are popping, my daughter and I have been "surveying the property." I remember doing this as a kid with my dad. He would announce, "it's time to survey the property!" And I would follow him out of the house to see how things were growing. It was a great opportunity for parent-child bonding, as well as a good way to develop my nature observation skills. Today my daughter and I walked the yard and then stopped for some wonderful swing time and some baseball practice. (The kid is developing a great batting stance. Like mother like daughter...she throws like me too. I think we need to get dad out to help her with that.)

A few weeks ago we planted sunflowers in a square. The goal is to create a sunflower house, where my daughter says she will play "Little House on the Prairie" once the sunflowers are full grown.

Our herb garden is in full swing and I'm encouraging the little one to sample. Last month I talked about her passion for onions. She will graze on them straight from the garden, so we planted a second onion patch near her swing set. This month we planted new perennials and also put in our tender annual herbs. Basil is a personal favorite. After putting ours in, we created a pot full of basil for granddad. He will use it to make tomato, mozarella and basil with oil for himself. Not only is my daughter learning to appreciate diverse flavors herself, she is learning to share with others AND is learning that plants are something to be cherished. They make great gifts!

We've visited many garden centers this month. I am letting her help me pick plants. While strolling through Home Depot, she announced "I want to make a sign." Last year I started a "reading garden" in the shade for her in an attempt to make a space of her own. She has renamed the garden the "princess garden." We picked out a concrete stone for her sign (cost = $2.69.) She had me write "If you are a fairy princess, please come in." We painted the words with "Once Upon a Time" (hot pink) Disney paint, which was leftover from painting her room earlier in the month. The sign as at the entrance of her garden. She's got plans for more signs in the works. One she mentioned is, "Princes are welcome too."

As always, I encourage you to go with the flow. Follow your child's whims and learn what aspects of nature excite him. The more you teach, the more your child will pick up on your ideas and run with them. Nature offers an unlimited playground and a parent need only open a child's eyes to some of the possibilities.


Esther Montgomery said...

I'm truly not wanting to be awkward - but, isn't there a contradiction that, on the one hand, you're growing clover to save water - and on the other, your're running around under a sprinkler ?



I don't think it's a contradiction. I'm adding clover, but I still have grass. I also have a garden that needs watering. Maybe I should add: "Stick your sprinkler in the garden to kill two birds with one stone. Have some fun and get your watering done at the same time. Just make sure the kids don't trample your plants!"