Top Ten Reasons to Garden with your Children 4

1. Nutrition

2. Gardner in the Garden

3. Loving the Natural Environment

4.)Increased Sensory Experiences

5.) Food Security

6.) Wonder and Discovery

7.) Establish Nature Routines

8.) Emergent Learning

9.) Community

10.) Hard Work Builds Character

4.)Increased Sensory Experiences

“We cannot create observers by saying “observe,” but by giving them the power and the means for this observation and these means are procured through education of the senses”

Maria Montessori

As much as I’m clearly converted by the technology revolution I would say that one of the down sides of interacting with the world primarily through screens and keyboards is that we are severely limiting our field of sensory experiences. Although we may see advancements in the future that allow us to smell and taste with our pc’s or smart phones in the meantime we’re missing out on the smell of rain, freshly baked bread, the silky softness of a rose petal and the sound of the wind in the willows.

Luckily this problem is easily remedied.

A garden is an excellent way to revel in the senses. There are endless ways you can focus on the senses in your garden. For example: plant a sweet and sour garden- strawberries, burdock, rhubarb, nasturtiums, stevia, sorell etc. I love growing mint with children- it is hardy (in fact it can be invasive so you might want to plant it in a container to keep it from spreading). Mint is easy to identify- spiky leaves that occur one on each side of the stem, a square shaped stem and a purple flower spike at the top. Whenever we go to our garden plot the children run to the mint patch and pick some leaves for smelling and tasting. We also love using mint for our impromtu tea parties. All you need is some hot water, mint, tea pot, tea cups,spoons, a table cloth (optional), sugar, milk, and preferably some cookies and you’ve got the makings for a lovely time. You can even make sunshine tea and you’ll never need to leave the garden!

Grow plants with different textures like shiny or fuzzy that invite children to touch them. Many succulents- like hens and chicks are shiny or lambs ear, which has a fine fur covering it. Hosta’s are shiny and there are a multitude of grasses and mosses that have interesting textures. Don’t forget about the inside textures of plants like the slimyness you get from okra, the gritty texture of a mouthfull of poppy seeds or a plant that i’ve been wanting to grow a loofa sponge- which is actually a type of gourd.

There are many fragrant plants that can be grown. Not only will the children like them but so will the pollinators- bees, wasps, butterflies, dragonflies etc. and healthy pollinators mean a healthy world! Lavender, Jasmine, roses, geraniums,

At her workshop in Manitoba last month Claire Warden talked about how one of her favorite activities as a child was making petal perfume- where you gather petals, mix them with water and mash the petals with a mortar and pestle (or a stick and rocks). This is an activity that almost any child could accomplish and a great way to experience wonder.

If you are a beginning gardener or would just like some new ideas there are 3 workshops at the 2012 Nature Summit that are geared towards gardening and a few others that are related to gardening and plants. They are Connecting Children with Nature by Marghanita Hughes, Garden Problem Solving with Kathryn Mackenzie and Edible Science with Ruth Lindsey-Armstrong. If you aren’t registered yet you should visit our registration page. In the meantime- Happy Gardening!

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