Children have a natural curiosity about the world around them. If they are growing up in a rich literacy environment full of books of all sorts, they will want to experience some of the things they see in the pictures. One of the best activities for helping young children to learn about our beautiful natural world is to allow them to see the growth cycle of plants. As adults we take the life cycles of plants and animals for granted, but when we introduce them to children we can, once again, enjoy the miracle of new life growing—a tiny seed growing into a tiny shoot, a seedling and then a mature plant.
Beans, radishes, or grass seed are good choices to begin with because they germinate very quickly. Planting in a clear plastic container allows the child to watch the development of the root structure below the soil as well as the growth above. Little science experiments such as giving one plant more light than another will give your little learner a chance to notice change over time and to learn that plants need certain nutrients to thrive. They may even begin to document growth over time with a simple chart or labeled drawing. The basis of good science is observation and then asking key questions about information observed. You can get your grandchild off to a great start as an observant learner by doing nothing more than planting a few seeds and then waiting for the exciting results.
Here are some excellent books to use as you have fun with plants and seeds:
The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
City Green by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan
The Surprise Garden by Zoe Hall
Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert
Sunflower House by Eve Bunting
NON-FICTION (How to books):
Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots by Sharon Lovejoy
The Children’s Kitchen Garden by Georgeanne Brennan
Gardening Wizardry for Kids by L. Patricia Kite
Grow Your Own Pizza by Constance Hardesty
Finally, you must try the classic:
I Can Read book by Millicent Selsam entitled Seeds and More Seeds. In this easy-to-read book young Benny begins to wonder about seeds. What are they, how do they grow and what will they turn into?
Read this simple book to your grandchild, or better yet, allow him or her to read it to you, and then watch as enthusiasm for getting out into nature grows into a passion for planting and watching things grow!
Here is a fun idea. Take a paper cup, draw a face on it, fill it with soil and plant grass seed on top. Wait a few days and watch the hair grow!!!