Most children enjoy the outdoors and getting dirty, so teaching them about gardening is a natural opportunity to educate them about nurturing plants. Growing vegetables and fruit with your child is particularly effective, as they may eat the bounty of their hard work. Along the way, you can teach your child about the effect of sun and water on plants, as well as allowing them to explore other parts of the outdoors, including insects and garden pests. Children can participate in the whole process of bringing a plant to harvest, beginning with sowing seeds and ending with preparing a meal from foods collected from the garden.
Since most kids love to dig in the dirt, having your preschooler help to prepare his or her garden plot is the natural place to start. Have your child select a spot in the yard for a garden and then show him or her how to prepare the soil by turning it with a hand rake or a kids-sized, long-handled rake. If the soil needs to be amended with peat or nutrient-rich organic soil, have your child help to spread the soil and then mix it with a rake.
Starting Seeds Indoors
Whether you are planting fruits, vegetables or flowers, starting seeds in containers is a good project for preschoolers. Begin by collecting up used egg trays, which will serve as seed containers. When you are ready to plant the seeds, have your preschooler fill each container with soil, put in the seed and cover it up. Label each group of seeds with a photo of a mature plant, so your preschooler will understand the goal. Once the seeds are planted, make it your child's responsibility to water and otherwise care for the seedlings.
Plant a Vegetable Garden
Many preschoolers are still learning to like vegetables. By growing their own, you may convince your child that carrots and tomatoes are not only good for her, but taste good, too. In order to keep your child's interest, plant a mixture of seedlings and seeds, and plant some fast-growing vegetables, such as radishes, which may be ready to harvest in as little as three weeks. When putting the plants or seeds into the ground, your preschooler can participate in the whole process, from digging the hole to setting the seed to watering.
Harvest and Eat
As your vegetable garden grows, have your child check on its progress about once a week. He will see growth in the plants and begin to understand how vegetables grow. When vegetables begin to mature, involve your child in harvesting the vegetables, and using them to prepare meals. If you have planted a salad garden, a fun activity is to have your child select the vegetables that will go into a salad , let him harvest them and prepare the salad together.