Getting used to this new “normal” of homeschooling, Zoom conferences, and social distancing is taking a bit of work. Luckily, you have an amazing tool to let kids explore and learn about different aspects of the life sciences—your garden! If you have children or grandchildren at home, you can help to fight the cabin fever and make learning fun with these engaging outdoor kids activities.
The most important part of all kids activities is engaging your child with plenty of questions. We’ve given you some ideas to start with. Don’t worry if the kids are right or wrong in their answers – just encourage them to think creatively!
- Become an entomologist: There are thousands of critters that call your garden home. Fill a mason jar with various components of an insect’s habitat, and have your child explain why each part (soil, leaves, sticks, pebbles, etc.) is important for the animas and insects living there. Ask questions such as “Where do you think we will find insects?” or “What kinds of bugs live under rocks?Use a magnifying glass or make your own “scope” out of an empty toilet paper roll to help find the insects. Once you have collected some insects, examine their bodies. All true insects have three body segments, six legs, and antennae. So, is a spider a true insect? What about ants and beetles?
- Go on a sensory walk: This activity is great for younger children of preschool or kindergarten age. Take a short walk around your garden and see how many senses you can use. Can you find all the colors of the rainbow? Close your eyes—what are the different sounds you hear? Take turns feeling different leaves and petals, and describe the differences. Are some fuzzy? Sticky? Bumpy? There are endless questions and explorations to be had while helping your little one learn about their senses.
- Sprout beans or basil seeds: Start a discussion about where plants come from. How does a seed become a plant? You can watch it happen before your eyes. Plant a bean against the side of a clear plastic container filled with soil. Over the coming weeks, watch to see your new plant grow! As an experiment, plant the beans facing in opposite directions. Will one sprout grow deeper into the ground, or will it figure out which way is up?
- Bird-watching: Here is a craft and activity rolled up in one. Decorate two empty toilet paper rolls however you would like, then glue them together. Punch holes in the two outer sides and tie string through them to complete your child’s own set of “binoculars”. Go outside on multiple days at various times—once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once in the evening. How many different birds can you see? How many do you hear? At what time do you see/hear the most birds? Have your child draw their favorite bird. If you like, discuss what makes birds unique from other animals. How are they able to fly? What can the shape of a bird’s beak tell you about its diet?
- Perform a flower dissection: Flowers are beautiful to observe, but there is more to them than just beauty. Learn about the parts of a flower by carefully pulling or cutting them apart. Discuss the functions of the stem, leaves, petals, and reproductive organs (pistil and stamens) and why each is important for the plant to survive.
Kids activities don’t have to be complicated or involved – they only require some creativity! At Big Earth Landscape Supply, we understand the fun that can be had in a garden – and we look forward ot seeing you again soon.