Over in the Garden
Activity: Daisy Dip
Find a daisy or two with a nice large, firm flower head. Cut off most of the stem, leaving enough for your child to use as a handle. Have your toddler dip the daisy head into a pie tin of paint, any color. Make daisy-shaped stampings on white paper. Try other objects from nature such as a dandelion, a stone, a small leaf, half an apple, etc.
For our class: don’t pick the garden plants, but use those provided to paint with. Experiment with different types of flower and colors of paint.
Activity: Egg Cup Flowers and Garden
Use a foam or paper egg carton cut into sections for this craft. Cut each carton section to look like a tulip. Add details to the tulips with markers or crayon. Poke one end of a pipe cleaner through the bottom of a carton section. Bend the tip and tape to the inside, bottom of your egg cup flower. Make lots of flowers and plant a garden in a 9” X 13” pan lined with a thick layer of clay or Play dough.
Activity: Sunflower Decoration/Kite
Cut in advance: yellow triangles and a brown circle. Help your child to glue the yellow triangles around the brown circle. Then help him/her to add a green streamer to the bottom of the flower. Hang your flower decoration as is or punch holes in the top of the circle and make a short string handle for your child to hold onto while he/she runs and lets the streamer fly in the breeze.
Activity: Ladybug, Ladybug
For this craft you will need: An oval made from 8-1/2 x 11 red construction paper for the body; an oval of black construction paper attached to the top of the body for the head; and black adhesive circles which are available at any office supply store (used for coding files). Hint: fold the paper that the stickers come on so that the sticker circles will partially pop up. This makes it easier for your child to remove the sticker. Next, give your child the red oval lady bug and ask what’s missing? Spots! Give your toddler several strips of black circular stickers and ask her to give her ladybug some spots. Let her apply the dots as she pleases so that she will have her very own ladybug decoration. Count the ladybug dots together.
Activity: Flower Power Pound
Place a piece of white cotton fabric like a white handkerchief on top of a sheet of cardboard on the sidewalk. Plan an interesting color pattern using leaves, petals, whole flowers, and blades of grass on one half of the fabric. Fold over the other half to make a flower sandwich. Use a rock, a children’s hammer or a lightweight mallet to pound the colors from the plants. Open the fabric. Remove the plant parts. Hang your artwork for all to see.
Activity: Storytelling Cans
Find three or more tin cans (edges sanded until smooth), plastic containers, or cups that fit inside each other. Cover your cans, cups or containers with contact paper. Choose a solid color. Next find three or more pictures from a magazine, clip art or draw your own – one picture per container. You and your child will use these cans/containers to tell a story, so make sure the pictures are related to each other. For example: Use pictures: 1. Seed, 2. Rain falling from a cloud with sun peaking from behind the cloud, 3. Flower. Place the cans upside down on the table. Tape the seed picture on the large can, the water/sun picture on the medium- sized can, and the flower picture on the small can. Stack the cans inside of each other, then tell your toddler a story: Once there was a little seed planted in the ground; along came the sun and rain (remove large can revealing the medium can underneath); then the seed became a flower (remove the medium can revealing the small can underneath).
Some older children may be able to repeat the story, or some version of it, using the storytelling cans.
Activity: She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not
Tots love to tear things apart. Picking apart flowers like mums and dandelions are a great way for children to practice their fine motor skills. Many flowers thrive on being deadheaded so the more your tot picks, the more the flowers bloom. If your tot seems to pull too hard, take shears to clip the flowers off so the root system isn’t damaged. Potpourri can be made of the petals or press them in the pages of an old telephone book for future art projects. Many flowers are edible, so if your tot still tastes everything, use flowers like marigolds, nasturtiums, violets, and dandelions.
Activity: Plant Them!
Place folded, moistened paper towels in a re-sealable plastic bag. Add a variety of seeds. Tape the bag to your window. Watch the action over many days. Do all the seeds sprout into seedlings?
Activity: Gardener Play
Supply your child with plastic gardening tools, hats, gloves, seeds, flower pots, flower packets, watering cans, and plastic flowers. Pretend to be a gardener. As your child plays, sing the following to the tune of “London Bridges Falling Down.”
Plant a seed and water it
Water it, water it
Plant a seed and water it
Then we’ll watch it grown!
Activity: Water it!
Don’t’ forget to water our flowers. They are always thirsty during the summer. Give yourself a squirt if you like! The early morning is the best time to water, but they will take it when they can get it!
Activity: Mother Nature’s Jig
Dance to the sounds of nature. Make a sound canister with seeds, leaves, or pebbles. Which sound do you like best? What, from nature, do you hear? Can you hear the birds? Can you hear the bees buzzing? Can you hear the wind blowing? Sway with nature’s song or make your own song with the sound canister.
Activity: To Be a Bean
Place a layer of kidney beans in the bottom of a pan. Cover with cold water and let soak overnight. Check them the next morning. What has happened to the beans? Compare the soaked beans with dry beans. Discuss with your child how each kind of bean looks, smells, and feels. Open up one of the beans that you soaked overnight. What do you see? Explore the layers of the bean. Watch your child carefully with the dry beans as they are a possible choking hazard.
Activity: Can You Name This Garden Animal?
- Move a rock that is 60 times its own body weight (that’s like lifting a truck!)
- Breathe through their skin
- Live for 12 years
- Produce as many as 1500 offspring a year
- Sing in a definite and changing rhythm
Did you guess an earthworm? Earth worms are a great garden friend. A pound of worms eat 1.2 pound of kitchen scraps each day. Worms turn these dead plants into rich organic soil. Anything that comes from a plant can be composted.
Smell the compost. It should have a sweet, earthy smell. When adding food scraps to the compost, bury them. That will keep them from getting smelly.
Activity: Worms at Work
Carefully fill a clear plastic jar with 3 wide layers of soil alternated with 2 think layers of sand. (Soil, sand, soil, sand, soil) spray each layer with a mist of water. Now add worms. Now look for some worms willing to visit your farm for a few days. Mark the spot where you found them with a marker flag. Assure the worms of a speedy release after you watch them hard at work. Place a few worms in the jar. Cover with a layer of dead leaves. Remember, earthworms live in the dark underground so cover the jar with a dark cloth to make them feel at home. Set the jar where it will not be too warm, too cold, or disturbed. Check them after a few hours and each day. What happened to the neat layers of soil and sand? Return your guests to where you found them.
Activity: Spaghetti-Splash Worms
Mix 2-3 packages of cooked spaghetti, 1/3 cup of vegetable oil and food coloring (optional) in a child’s wading pool. Children may want to play with the spaghetti with their hands, sit on it, or (as we tried) use a small slide to get right into the middle of it. Watch out though, it can kill the grass! Try other things like gelatin which is also a hit.
Activity: Sensory Seed Box
Fill a large container with a grain, like flax or rice. Use cups, containers, and spoons, to fill and dump just like you would in a sandbox. Hide flowers, vegetables, and plastic insects in the box. Ask your tot to feel around and find the hidden items.
Fingerplays and Songs
(tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)
I’m a little planted seed
See the rain fall on me
Sun shines down through the trees
These are things I need indeed
Oh, how happy they make me.
I’m a little growing seed
Make a Garden
(Suit actions to words)
Dig! Dig! Dig! Rake just so
Plant the seeds, watch them grow
Chop! Chop! Chop! Pull out weeds
Warm rain and sun, my garden needs.
Up! Up! Up! Green stems climb.
Open wide, it’s blossom time!
This is my garden (Extend one hand forward, palm up)
I’ll rake it with care, (Make raking motion on palm with three fingers of other hand)
And then some flower seeds (plant motion)
I’ll plant in there.
The sun will shine (make circle with hands)
And the rain will fall (Let fingers flutter down to lap)
And my garden will blossom (Cup hands together; extend upward slowly)
And grow straight and tall.
Little Seed in the Ground
Little seed in the ground (crouch down on the floor, hands covering heads)
Siting so still (stay crouching)
Little seed, will you sprout?
Yes, I will! (Jump up)
What Do You Suppose?
What do you suppose?
A bee sat on my nose! (Place finger on nose)
Then what do you think?
He gave me a great big wink, (Wink)
And said, “I beg your pardon,
I thought you were a garden!”
Will You Read To Me?
Take time to enjoy a story
Small Green Snake by Libba Moore Gray
The Big Fat Worm by Nancy van Laan
The Carrot Seed Story by Ruth Krauss
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
Moose in the Garden by Nancy White Carlstrom
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert
Activities provided by:
E Resources Group
2550 Stagecoach Road
Webster City, Iowa 50595-7375
Toddling on the Wild Side was supported by REAP-CEP.
Iowa Early Learning Standards:
1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2, 5.4, 6.1, 6.2, 7.3
Related Kindernature Resources: Other Resources: