This post brought to you by Miracle-Gro Gro-ables. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Homegrown & Healthy.
As I sit here, we’re enjoying a relaxing weekend in the sun. In between fluctuations in the weather we’re enjoying an unusually warm 80 degree day. Summer is just around the corner, along with all of the great things that come with it: Playing in the sprinklers, late nights spent in front of a campfire, eating fresh vegetables straight from the garden. And of course, Summer Vacation!
I’m one of those moms who likes it when my kids are out of school. I enjoy the flexibility of being able to do what we want when we want. I especially love being able to teach them about the things that are important to me through natural classrooms.
We have gotten so used to learning about things through pictures and videos that we have forgotten about the classroom outside. There is so much to learn just by exploring the great outdoors, and exploring nature is healthy psychologically and physically.
It’s always been important to me that the children understand where their food is coming from, and this week I’ve worked with Miracle-Gro Gro-ables to check out a new product they’re offering, designed to make gardening a fun and easy hands-on activity for your kids to do with you!
Everything you need to grow a fruit, herb, or vegetable can be found in this seed pod. You just have to plant, water, and watch the seed pod grow your chosen variety of plant (ex. Basil or Zucchini). Each Gro-able is guaranteed to grow! Just push the seed pod into loosened potting mix until the top is level with surface and water daily. In 1-2 weeks your seed will sprout. Several months after planting, flowers will appear which means fruit is close at hand.
What is The Gro-ables Project? A movement to share the joy of growing herbs and veggies while giving kids truly hands-on learning experiences. You can join the movement by planting your own Gro-ables, taking part in the activities below and sharing your own story!
It’s so important to teach children about growing their own food. Here’s a few other pieces of advice on how to set up an outdoor classroom that’ll teach your children engaged and learning all summer long!
1. Teach your children. Is that obvious? No, seriously: take the time to thoughtfully explain to them the processes of nature. Even toddlers can understand simple concepts like how plants “eat and drink”. Older kids can start diving into these subjects on more advanced levels, depending on their age and interest.
2. Do a “unit study.” Pick specific topics to talk to your children about. When they can be hands on and really see the processes up close they’ll be more likely to understand them. Take them to the library (or let’s face it, these days you can just hand them an iPad and let them research on their own).
3. Your garden is home to more than just plants. In the spring, look for caterpillars. Capture one and put it in a large jar along with more of the plant it was eating when you found it. Put a stick in the jar, too. The caterpillar will build a chrysalis or cocoon on the stick. While you are waiting, identify the caterpillar and read up on the habitat of the butterfly or moth that you will soon have. Watch for the butterfly or moth to fly out. Then, let it go in a place that fits the habitat you’ve studied. Dig up the ground and see what you can find in there. Use a microscope and show them how the ground is ALIVE and how beautiful and necessary the process of composting is.
4. Take sketchbooks with you. Have them draw, sketch, or paint what they see. Get creative with it, encourage them to look at things from different angles. What would that flower look like from the point of view of a ladybug? What would a worm see in his tunnel he’s digging?
5. Do nothing at all. I know, it’s a little contradictory but.. sometimes kids just need to explore on their own to really enjoy the beauty of complexity of what’s around them. At the end of a day of playing, ask them questions about what they saw.