All you need to explore gardening with children is a garden. Right? Generally, this is true. However, if we want children to develop sustained curiosity about the natural world, we need to present them with digestible, age-appropriate topics. Our new course, Sprouts: A Child’s Garden Adventure, will do just that. You can explore outside and inspire curiosity with the resources listed below.
Books are an excellent way to set a purpose or entice a child to look closer at the world around them. I especially love the book Up and Down in the Garden by Kate Messner. She explores the many things happening above and inside the soil. Her story highlights the different animals, insects, and plants just outside your door all season long. She also has a companion book entitled Over and Under the Snow that explores the hidden animal world during a snow-covered winter. I recommend reading these two books together.
For the youngest gardeners, Lois Ehlert’s books are bright with simple illustrations and quickly become favorites. Her books contain a lot of labeling, which can help deepen your conversations about gardening. Growing Vegetable Soup illustrates the progression from growing food to eating it. It would be a fantastic read for any child unfamiliar with where food comes from or who is interested in cooking. There is also a recipe at the end of the book. Lois Ehlert has written another book called Planting a Rainbow about different kinds of flowers and how they grow. If your child enjoys Growing Vegetable Soup, they are sure to love this book as well.
Dianna Hutts Aston creates wonderful books about the natural world. I suggest A Seed is Sleepy, and follow it up with A Nest in Noisy. The main text will engage your child, but she also includes more in-depth information in asides on each page. She describes and labels different kinds of seeds and plants. The illustrations are captivating and reminiscent of traditional botanical drawings. This book will reach readers on many levels.
The next two books take you on the journey of a plant’s life cycle. Eric Carle’s The Tiny Seed is enlivened by his acclaimed illustrations and tells the story of how one very tiny seed becomes a very big flower. This engaging fiction tale has many realistic elements that will reinforce the reader’s understanding of a plant’s life cycle. Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell is a great book for October or November, when you may have your own pumpkin lying around the house. This book follows the journey of jack-o-lanterns through decomposition into sprouting new pumpkins. It is an excellent book to set the scene for your own pumpkin rotting experiment.
Check out Kelly’s Classroom Online blog for more information. I have conducted this experiment a few times in my classroom, and it’s fascinating to watch the pumpkin decompose up close.
This battery-operated microscope is one of my favorite classroom purchases. You can take it on nature walks and immediately look at plants up close. It has a 60-120x magnification, and it is incredibly easy to use. It has also proven to be quite hardy.
Choosing one aspect of the natural world to focus on at a time is a great place to start. These books can help focus your intentions and engage the children in your life. Thank you for taking the time to inspire the young learners in your life. Happy Learning!
Thank you so much for this post! I am so excited to investigate ALL the resources that you have listed here!