This week Leaf, Root & Fruit have spent some time at Heathmont Pre School. We’ve had a great time exploring edible gardening with each of the 4 year old classes.
During the first session on Monday, we discussed how the vegetables that we eat at dinner time usually come from the shops, and that these shops get the veggies from farmer’s gardens. The farmers grow the veggies from seeds. We explored the children’s existing knowledge and then spent some time talking about how seeds need dirt, water, air and sunshine to grow. We also used our hands to demonstrate the actions of a seed being planted, sprouting and pushing through the soil, up towards the sun, with the roots dangling in the soil, slurping up the water like straws.
The classes also learnt ‘The Garden Poem’:
This is my garden,
I’ll rake it with care;
And then some veggie seeds
I will plant there.
The sun will shine,
And the rain will fall;
And my garden will blossom,
And grow straight and tall.
It was important to provide a variety of verbal and visual mediums to support the children to develop the understanding of the fundamentals of the growth process.
We finished the first session with a discussion about the types of vegetables we would like to grow in the raised garden bed each class was responsible for. The children decided they would like to grow broccoli, celery, lettuce, carrots, peas, beetroot and of course, strawberries!
The second session on Wednesday involved revisiting our discussions from Monday and the children then had the opportunity to plant the seeds and seedlings in the garden beds. Throughout the session the children were encouraged to examine and identify parts of the plants such as roots, stems and leaves. The function of each part of the plant was then discussed which we again related back to the concepts for plant growth: water, sunshine, dirt and air.
Planting was carried out in small groups with each group experiencing the opportunity to plant some seedlings and some seeds. The children lifted the broccoli, lettuce or celery seedlings out of their punnets so that we could examine the roots. We felt it was important for the children to have the opportunity to handle and examine the seedlings and its features to support their understandings and feel comfortable to handle plants.
As they examined the roots, many of the children recalled the hand gestures we had been using to represent the way in which roots draw water from the soil. Each child then planted seeds such as peas, beetroot and carrot seeds. The pea seeds were planted underneath a tee-pee of bamboo stakes. This helped to remind the children that plants will grow upwards towards the sun, which is vital for plant growth. We each took turns at watering the veggie patches, reinforcing a plant’s need for not only sunshine, but also water. Watering also provided the children with a sense of ownership to care for their new veggies!
“Active involvement in learning builds children’s understanding of the concepts, creative thinking and inquiry processes necessary for lifelong learning. They can challenge and extend their own thinking and that of others through interactions and negotiations. Children’s active involvement changes what they know, can do and value, and transforms their learning.“ (VEYLDF, Outcome: 4, Children are confident and involved learners, 2009, p.25)
The small group experiences provided the children with not only the individual, hands on opportunity to engage in a meaningful experience, but it also supported collaboration as the children discussed and shared their understanding of the growth and planting process.
It was great to see the Heathmont Pre-School children’s enthusiasm for gardening! We look forward to seeing how their veggie patches grow and flourish into valuable food and learning resources in the coming months.