Kid Activities
1000's of Ideas for Childcare Professionals & Teachers!

Gardening Theme Page 1

December 14, 2011 17:49 by Barbara Shelby

Page 1 consist of  'How' to Plant and Grow, Experiments, Worm Farms in bottles, and Community Service Ideas.

Page 2 is loaded with activities for Art, Crafts, Games, Snacks, Songs and Jokes...The following ideas  on both pages have been collected from about the site for anything to do with gardens/gardening)

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CONTAINER PLANTING 

Deciding WHERE and WHAT to Plant...

Contain your plants. Many vegetables and flowers grow well in either indoor or outdoor pots. Once your plot or pots are chosen, help children begin researching what to plant. For speedier and more certain results, plant seedlings instead of seeds; however, children will miss out on the excitement of seeing that first sprout peeking through the soil.

With container gardening, you control the soil and drainage, and you can avoid most garden pests. In 3- to 5-gallon pots, you can grow beans, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, corn, broccoli, cabbage, kale, leeks and even melons.

Pots as small as 4- to 6 inches are fine for growing peas (choose shorter peas, ones that grow to about a foot), lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard.

Choose medium size pots for beets, eggplant and cherry tomatoes. Of course, all of your pots will need plenty of sun and water

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MAKE A CONTAINED OUTDOOR GARDEN... in a children's swimming pool!
Here's a good idea if you can't dig up a plot for a garden!
   1.  Get a a small swimming pool and be sure to punch holes for drainage.
   2.  Fill with dirt---plant seeds, or small flowers, water, fertilize and watch the flowers grow!
   3.  The kids will love to work their "garden"

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REAP WHAT YOU EAT!

Children often want to plant seeds left over from fruits (peach pits, apple seeds, watermelon seeds). If your climate is conducive and you have the space, try planting some peach pits in a corner of the yard. In about three years, some tasty fruit may appear.

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GROW SOME EDIBLE PLANTS AND ADD THEM TO YOUR COOKING WITH THE KIDS!

Be sure to ADD your 'child-grown' goods to... soups, salads, beverages and desserts!

DID YOU KNOW IT'S SAFE TO EAT:
Peonies, pansies, nasturtiums, dandelions, day lilies, squash flowers, elder flowers, carnations, violets, marigolds and sunflowers?

DO NOT EAT:
Wisteria, holly, bird of paradise, hydrangea, oleander, poinsettia or philodendron.
Source: parenthood.com

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GARDENING FUN!

GROWING POPCORN IN A BAGGIE
Instructions: Take a plastic zip-loc baggie, put cotton balls in it and saturate cotton balls with water. Put popcorn kernels into the bag, seal it and tape to a window. Add water as needed and watch the plants grow. Transfer to potting soil later. (It doesn't take much to get a popcorn kernal going!

My grandson had a kenal laying on its side on the sink--in just a drop of water. In a couple days it was sprouting a small leaf and stem! (Barb)

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MAKE A POTATO HEAD PLANT

1.  Cut off both ends of a potato.
2.  Stand the potato upright on one of the flat cut surfaces and scoop out a hole in the other end.
3.  Carve out a face on one side of the potato.
4.  Have the children place two cotton balls in the potato’s scooped-out top.
5.  Let them water the cotton balls and sprinkle them with grass or alfalfa seeds.
6.  Place in a sunny spot and watch his hair grow.

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MAKE A LIVE BLOOMING NECKLACE
Materials Needed:
Film Container
Cotton Balls
Yarn
Flower or Vegetable Seeds and Screw Eye Hook

Instructions: This works great with the clear containers.
1. Put two-four cotton balls into the container.
2. Tuck in about a few seeds between the cotton balls and the outside of the container, so that you can see them. Large seeds work best. Peas, Cantaloupe, etc.
3. Add a few drops of water, just until cotton balls are damp, but not soaked and not enough to puddle water on bottom of container.
4. Use a screw-eye with a medium size eye on it and screw it through the center of the lid. Put the lid on the container tightly. 5. Braid three pieces of yarn long enough to go around the child's neck and slip over the head.
6. Thread yarn through the screw eye and tie in a circle.
Kids like to wear these necklaces and watch the seeds sprout and grow inside the container. If you time this right, you can plant them into starter pots when they get too big for the container, or outside into the garden.

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 PLANT A GARDEN TO ATTRACT BUTTERFLIES! A list of plants that attract adult butterflies:

  • Aster
  • Blanket Flower
  • Day-lily
  • Phlox
  • Sunflower
  • Verbena
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Milkweed

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WONDERFUL IDEA!

PLANT A CIRCLE OF TREES... It'll take a while to form--but will be wonderful when it does!
In the January issue of Exchange, Rusty Keeler contributed the article, "A Spring Playscape Project: Building a Tree Circle", which he introduces with...  "If you are dreaming of adding nature to your yard, this project may be perfect for you. The Tree Circle is a green gathering area for children made by planting trees in a circle.

• For children... the Tree Circle becomes a magical place for dramatic play, quiet retreat, or lively nature exploration.

• For teachers and parents... it becomes a shady grove for snacks and stories.

•The trees create a sweet spot that changes during the seasons and grows over time. A beautiful addition to a child’s life — and yours too!" You can read the instructions of the tree circle in its entirety. Click here

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PLANT A RAINBOW
You can grow a blooming rainbow by planting curved rows of different-colored flowers. For the best effect, use plants that have similar heights.

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GROW THINGS (Horticulture)

•  Grow different types of beans in wet cotton and plastic bags; tape the baggies to a window and some in a closet.  Observe and photograph (or draw) sprouting once a week. Discuss differences in growth patterns and what plants need to grow. Measure and graph plant heights.

  Plant a garden and eat harvested vegetables.

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 GROW GREEN BEANS  

 Have each child plant their own green beans. It's a great way to introduce children to gardening and the connection between food and the earth.

You need...bean seeds, small garden pot (3 inch across) some soil and water. You will also need a place  to put the pot where it will get 4-6 hours of sunlight.

Fill the pot with soil; make a small hole using the little finger about 1/4 inche deep--put in the bean-- cover over-- water. Place the pot in a sunny spot and watch it grow. Be sure the planter has drainage and be sure to place a saucer to catch the excess water... If children are younger, end the activity with reading JACK AND THE BEANSTALK!

 

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SWEET POTATO VINE #1
Need: One healthy sweet potato; 2-litre, clear soda bottle; three tooth picks or wooden skewers, water, clean stones or gravel.

Easy Instructions:
1.  Cut the top off your bottle (start cut with a sharp knife, then use scissors).
2.  Place stones or gravel in bottom of bottle.
3.  Suspend your potato, narrow end down, into the bottle. Use toothpicks, punched into potato and resting on sides of bottle, to hold in place.
4.  Fill bottle with water so that at least half of your potato is submerged.
5.  Your sweet potato vine should show new roots within a week or two. Leafy purple sprouts will appear shortly after. Use a magnifying glass to see tiny root hairs and to examine little sprouts. Ask students to PREDICT what will happen next.

TIP: A sweet potato purchased from a natural foods store or farmers' market may sprout sooner than one from a supermarket--because it's less likely to have been sprayed with a sprout inhibitor.

EXTENSION IDEA:
Before you prepare your experiment, ASK students what plants eat
. The general answer to this question is "nutrients collected from soil by roots." But what about plants grown in water? Students may guess that there are nutrients in what appears to be pure, clear water. Are there enough to support a whole, big plant?

WHAT IS YOUR VINE EATING?

A sweet potato is a root tuber, a fleshy root that stores food for a plant and produces adventitious shoots or shoots growing from unusual positions--in this case, out of the sides of the root.

What's happening to the potato, itself?  Your vine will continue to grow for months if you are careful to replenish water and/or change it when your bottle becomes cloudy.

You may wish to plant your sweet potato outdoors in the spring, after danger of frost. It may not survive but, on the other hand, you may find a small crop of sweet potatoes in the fall. Dig up the plant and use one of the new potatoes to grow another vine.

 

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 SWEET POTATO VINE #2
1.
  Using four toothpicks have child suspend the vegetable on the rim of a jar or mug filled with water.
2.  Make sure the bottom half - the pointed end - is under water.
3.  Place in a sunny spot and change or add water as needed.
4.  In a few days, roots will form below the water. And, two to three weeks later, leaves and stems will sprout from the top.
5.  Continue to grow the plant in water or, after a month or two, pot the sweet potato in a houseplant potting mix.
6.   Keep the soil moist.
7.  The stems are weak, so help children tie them to strings, wire or a stake.
8.  Feed once a month with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer such as 20-20-20. As the vine grows, cut it back a few inches to force the plant to grow bushy. Some are treated with heat to keep them from sprouting on grocery-store shelves, but most grow roots in a matter of days after being placed in water.

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GARDENING SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS

PLANT GROWTH IN LIGHT VERSUS COMPLETE DARKNESS

Plant two seeds each in their own clean cup with potting soil. Cover one with a black bag or a box over it. Only open it to water it and then re-cover it immediately. Plant the other one and place it near a window or under a grow light.
Ask what the children predict? After 2 weeks---see what happened!

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SPROUTING SPROUTS

 1.  Take a small zip-lock bag and using a needle, punch a few holes in the bottom seam of the bags.
2.  Get some alfalfa or mung bean seeds and place a teaspoon of seeds in each bag.
3.  Zip the bag closed and have children place the bag in a bowl of warm water.
4.  Soak the seeds overnight.
5.  The next day, take the bag out of the water and let it drain; have it sit in indirect sunlight the rest of the day. For the next few days, have children dunk the bags in water for a few seconds and then drain and put back in indirect light. 6.  On the fourth day, have your child set the seeds IN THE SUN.
Have fun watching the sprouts turn green.
7.  BE SURE TO USE THE BEANS! When ready eat the sprouts by sprinkling them on top of a green salad, on a sandwich or on top of cream cheese spread on crackers.

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MIGHTY SEED: Learn about: exothermic reactions- Observe the power of seeds when you try to limit their growth.
Materials:
Clear plastic cup
5 tablespoons of Plaster of Paris
2 or more tablespoons of water, Plastic spoon for mixing, Dropper
3 soybeans

1. Put the plaster of Paris in the plastic cup
2. Add 2 tablespoons of water and mix.
3. Continue to add drops of water until the mixture has the consistency of a very thick milkshake.
4. Push the soybeans into the plaster until they are covered and then smooth the surface.

Now, explore! What do you think will happen to the soybeans? Make regular observations. What happens? Why?

5.  The next day add a tablespoon of water to the cup and continue to make observations. What happens? Why?  What's Going On?

  • Seeds require moisture and warmth to germinate. In this case the seed absorbs moisture from the plaster mixture.
  • As the seed absorbs water it increases in size and applies pressure to the surrounding plaster. This force, combined with the strength of the germinating sprout, causes the plaster to crack and allows the shoot to grow up through the plaster.
  • This strength and ability to grow in adverse conditions allows plants to survive in a wide range of environments.
  • You may also notice that when water is mixed with plaster the cup becomes warm. A chemical reaction which gives off heat like this is known as an "exothermic reaction." Source: cosi.org

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CARROT TOPS

As the project is written, it is geared to GRADES 6 to 8; however, it can be adapted to ANY grade level.
Question: Can a plant grow from just the top of a carrot?
Research:
What kind of root does a carrot have? Why is the root so big? What is needed for a plant to grow?
Hypothisis:
Can the carrot top provide what is needed for the plant to grow?
Materials: Shallow container, 4 carrots

1. Cut about half an inch off the end of the carrot that has the leaves. Cut the leaves off close to the base of the carrot.
2. Put the carrots into the container with the cut side down.
3. Add enough water to cover about half the carrot top.
4. Place the container in a well-lighted window.
5. Observe the carrot tops each day for any changes. Remember the changes may start out small and change slowly. Look for new leaves and roots.
6. Use a metric ruler to measure any growth you may observe.
7. Continue your observations for six days and write your report on the sixth day. For younger children---just have fun observing the carrot, while making observations along the way!

TEACHER/CAREGIVER SECTION FOR CARROTS:
POSSIBLE HYPOTHESIS:
No growth will occur since the carrot is not living-OR Leaves will grow since even this small part of the plant is still living.
Possible Conclusion: The carrot top should show some new growth each day. The student should discuss the possible reasons for the growth.
Adapted from Judy Schneider

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 MAKE A TERRARIUM

A terrarium is a sort of living landscape inside an enclosed plastic container or jug.
•To start, put a layer of pebbles or charcoal at the bottom of the container for drainage.
•Cover that with two inches of topsoil.
•Add a few rocks, some twigs or branches, moss,and small plants.
•Moisten the terrarium with water, but don't overdo it.
Cover the opening with a sheet of plastic wrap.

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#1 SODA BOTTLE GREENHOUSE...
Materials:
2 clear 2-liter bottles (soda)
Sand
Dirt
Seeds
1.  Cut one bottle so that the bottom is approximately 4" high--this creates the bottom and base of the green house.
2.  Next, cut the second bottle so it's about 9" high this will be the "lid" or top for your house.
3.  Place small aount of potting soil in the bottom of the 4" base.
4.  Add soil and seeds. Water the seeds--- then slip the top over it to create a “greenhouse”.
5.  Put in sunny place and plants will appear in 2-5 days -- depending on the seeds you use.

#2 SODA BOTTLE GREENHOUSE

 1.) Thoroughly wash and dry the clear plastic bottle. A clear juice bottle or 2-liter soda bottle works. With the scissors, cut all the way around the bottle to carefully remove the top one-third of the bottle.

2.) Place about 1 inch of loose grave in the bottom of the bottle, then add about 3 inches of potting soil.

3.) Make small holes in the dirt and plant the small plants or seedlings in the soil, just deep enough to cover the roots.

4.) Add a few drops of water in the bottle, but do not soak the soil. As the bottle will be almost an enclosed garden only a little bit of water is necessary.

5.) Gently place the top part of the bottle back in place on top of the planted section. Use the wide clear tape to secure the 2 parts of the bottle together. (You may need an extra pair of hands for this part.) Once the sections are back together and in place, if you desire, you can decorate the bottle with sticky-backed ribbon to cover the joint where the bottle sections are taped together.

 6.) Place the green house in a sunny warm location and water only when necessary. You do not need to keep the lid on the bottle as the air and condensation will give the plants all the nutrition they need to grow into healthy, thriving plants. Source: Source:eHow.com

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WORM FARM- HOW WORMS WORK IN THE GARDEN!!!

Worms are vitally important for the gardener. Not only do they aerate the soil and improve its condition by breaking down rotting plant waste in the soil, they will also produce  higher quality compost in your compost heap, eating their way through quantities of kitchen waste at the same time.

 Directions:

  • Cut the top off a plastic soda bottle, tape the edge.
  • Pour in 2 inches gravel or stones for drainage (good way to get small rocks out of the yard!)
  • Alternate 2 inches of sand, 2 inches of dirt. (VERY lightly spray the dirt with water) Worms 'breathe' through their skin, which must be damp for this to happen. Put a few small pieces of banana peel in the middle for worm food.
  • Continue with layers till top.
  • Add worms. Tape the top back on or cover top with plastic wrap and tape. Either way, put in several air holes. The jar should not be put anywhere too cold.

Tape black construction paper around bottle, and leave for a day or 2 -- try to do this on a Friday. When you take the paper off, you will see the tunnels the worms have made, and the layers will have shifted and mixed. 

Make sure you check your bottle ecosystems every day; moisten the soil; add more moistened food to the top layer if necessary. Always ensure the contents of the jar are moist, not too wet and definitely not too dry.

You can also: 1.) Observe your ecosystems and record your observations. 2.) Draw a picture or take a digital photograph of your ecosystems.

Charles Darwin studied worms for 39 years, and concluded that life on earth would not be possible without them. Mainly because they increase soil fertility so efficiently, but also because they reduce quantities of plant waste.

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WORMS CAN BE FUN... Activity Two

Go to bait and tackle store and buy bait worms. Dump them into two large tubs of dirt and let the children observe them as they dig. The children can use their hands to dig up the worms. If your children a young, have a variety of plastic birds  at the table for pretend feeding.

With the children, TAKE THE WORMS OUTSIDE and put them in the garden at the end of the day. Have a box of baby wipes available for hand washing.

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TURN A PROTECTED SECTION of your home, program or school yard into a nature shelter.

In warm weather or cold weather- birds, squirrels and other small wildlife are in constant search of food, fresh water and safe shelter. Set up a bird feeder, bird bath and bird house where you and the children will be able to quietly observe. Youth enjoy watching different animals seek the food and water and your bird house will be there when needed. Visit Bird Theme 

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 PLANT  BULBS IN THE FALL

When fall approachs, it's  time to get  bulbs in the ground for spring blossoms such as tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and lilies. When flowers welcome next spring-you'll be happy that you did!
For the best results:

  • Plant before the first frost.
  • Dig a trench and place the soil on a plastic sheet.
  • Place the bulbs in the trench according to your design, but don't let them touch. Make sure they are facing the right way up.
  • Replace the soil.
  • Water thoroughly. You can also add a layer of mulch to keep the bulbs moist.
  • Now all you have to do is wait for spring to see healthy green sprouts that will grow into colorful flowers!
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GROW YOUR OWN FRESH SALAD!

Grow a selection of salad crops to make a lovely summer salad and introduce children to practical gardening. It will increase their interest in healthy food and help them to understand plant life cycles.

Materials:
A plot of good soil, garden tools, compost or manure, watering can,
Seed Ideas for salad: lettuce, nasturtium, pot marigold, cherry tomato, tomatoes, peas and crystal apple cucumber

1. Help children dig the soil and mix in some compost or manure.

2.  Plant  seeds following the directions on the seed packets. You don't have to grow the crops in rows -but can plant in patches, spirals or pots and window-boxes. Be sure children leave enough space to be able to get to the plants for watering, weeding, slug removing and picking!

3. When seeds are planted, water them gently. Seeds MUST be kept moist to germinate.

4. When seeds start to grow, take steps that slugs don't visit and eat everything. (A slug trap can be made with some beer in a jar - make sure you dig a hole to place the jar in so that it sits at soil level.)

5. Remind kids to keep pulling out the weeds, but not to disturb  salad crops. You can give the pea plants some sticks to climb up.

6. Be patient until the salad crops look ready to eat!

RAW PEAS can go in salad - the children just need to take them out of their pods.
 
The NASTURTIUMS AND MARIGOLDS are advised for two reasons: they encourage pest-eaters to come into gardens... and  can also be eaten. The marigold petals and the leaves and flowers of the nasturtium will brighten up any salad.

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How to grow TOMATO PLANTS (from seeds) with your child.

• Around March/April, start by filling a small flowerpot with fresh potting compost.
• Press the soil until it's firmly packed and then evenly sprinkle a few tomato seeds on the surface of the soil.
• Cover the seeds by putting a little compost into another pot and shaking it gently over the new seeds, like a pepper pot.
• Cover the pot with cling film or a plastic bag and secure it with an elastic band and place it in a warm, light place until the seeds begin to sprout.
• When the seedlings appear they will need to transfer them to their own pots. And around June time, when the weather is warmer, plant them outside in larger pots or in the garden.
• Ensure plants are well-watered and give them a special treat of plant food once a week.

Be sure the children wash their hands after gardening, as well as the produce before they eat it.

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GARDENING & COMMUNITY SERVICE...

• Improve the school grounds and plant trees or wildflowers.

Plant produce. Donate the harvest to a local food bank.

Plant seeds. Sell the flowers or plants and donate the proceeds to a local organization in need.
Form a litter patrol on school or park ground

Put on a play at your school, a fair, or festival about local environmental issues.

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This is page 1...Go to page 2 for Gardening Themed ideas for Art, Crafts, Games, Snacks, Songs and Jokes!

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Some interesting categories that could blend with a 'Garden Theme' are:

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