Growing plants is a good teaching tool for preschoolers. It is both simple and fun. Planting teaches the children about life cycles and responsibility. It is also a lengthy lesson that incorporates both indoor and outdoor class time. According to Beth Hallett of the University of New Hampshire Child Study and Development Center, "Gardening lets children practice skills such as problem-solving, collaboration, counting, measuring, writing, language, and risk-taking."
The first step in growth for any plant is germination. You can plant the seeds in fertile ground and allow them to germinate under the soil. It is also a good idea to germinate the seeds inside a clear plastic bag that contains a wet paper towel. The water will "awaken" the seed from its dormant state, and the plastic bag will allow the students to see the seed's progress. Make sure the bags get plenty of air and sunlight.
Transfer the seedling
After your seed has germinated into a seedling, you need to get it into dirt. If you use a small container, such as a paper cup, the children can leave the plants on their desks or the window sill and monitor them daily. The children will be able to see their progress first-hand, especially after weekends away from the classroom.
If cared for properly, the plants will soon outgrow their small pots. The children can take their plants home and plant them into the ground, or you can continue the lesson and allow the children to create a class garden they can tend to and eventually harvest.
According the University of New Hampshire, some good pointers for preschool gardening are to:
Have children help choose the vegetables and fruits to be grown.
Plant in container gardens to reduce the amount of weeding.
Engage children in meaningful work such as planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting.
Create private spaces such as a bean teepee or sunflower house.
Talk with children about their theories and discoveries within the garden: "How do you think the beans climbed to the top of the teepee?" "Where do plants get their water?"
Invite children to cook with you. Children are more willing to eat something they have created.
Effects of Gardening on elementary students
According to a 2005 study in the HortTechnology journal by C.D. Klemmer, T.M. Waliczek, and J.M. Zajicek, "Third, fourth, and fifth grade students that participated in school gardening activities scored significantly higher on science achievement tests compared to students that did not experience any garden-based learning activities."