Summer Fun: Cultivating Learning Opportunities in the Garden
This week we’re kicking off a new blog series we’re calling “Summer Fun!” Over the next six weeks we’re highlighting various outdoor activities you can do with your children which take learning outside the classroom.
We’re especially interested in activities that focus on unstructured playtime, exploring new interests, and giving all of us a chance to recharge after the school year. You might be surprised, but even a short walk around the neighborhood can be a learning experience for your child.
Last week we highlighted the benefits of spending time outdoors this summer, so that’s where you’ll find us!
First activity on our list - Gardening! From a few seeds in a small pot, to a plot in your community garden, there’s endless opportunities for kids to learn about science, develop a few important skills, and have fun too.
So dig out those gardening tools, and get ready to play in the dirt!
Gardening as a Learning Opportunity
If you think about all the work that goes into gardening, it's easy to recognize the numerous learning opportunities. We wanted to highlight three skills our kids can further develop while they’re playing in the dirt based on our earlier review of what kids need to be successful in the future.
Learning something new, and exploring what works and what doesn’t ties directly into our desire for our kids to have a growth mindset. Is gardening a regular activity at your house? Try planting something new this summer. Brand new to gardening? Start small with a few vegetable seeds.
Planning your garden is a great way to work on those executive function skills. For our youngest learners, this might involve making a list of materials (pot, dirt and seeds) and helping to shop, plant and set up a watering schedule. For teens, there are opportunities to learn about different types of plants (annuals and perennials), finding space in a community garden, or perhaps planting vegetables you can use for a summer family dinner.
There’s something quite satisfying about taking time to be outside and get your hands in the dirt. And one of the best ways to inspire critical thinking in your kids is to carve out time for them to slow down and reflect. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are thinking critically about gardening and how to pull a weed out of the ground. Instead it’s a chance for their brains to make connections about other experiences and interests in which they are involved.
Resources - Elementary
Try some of these easy veggies to grow with kids!
Inch by inch, row by row, learn to make your garden grow! Browse through these seed-filled reads and explore the outdoors through books.
Wondering how to start a garden? Find your confidence with these expert gardening tips.
Resources - Middle/High
Flowering plants have many similarities like light and moisture needs and soil requirements. But some significant differences in annual vs. perennial plants are important to understand.
Put your garden bounty to work! These mains and sides are made with fresh-from-the-garden veggies and come together in just 30 minutes.
Following are a number of resources (created for educators, but great for families too!) to help you plan lessons and activities for engaging children and youth in your garden, whether it be located at a school, museum, community farm, or other site.
Join the Discussion
One additional benefit of spending time in your garden, phones are down! It’s one more way to get your child to take a break from their digital devices, and I expect we’re all looking at ways to encourage a little less screen time this summer.
Have a favorite gardening tip? We’d love to hear from you!
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About the Author
Jennifer Larson is the founder and CEO of Hive Digital Minds, mother to four children, and passionate about finding innovative ways to engage parents in their child’s learning journey. Her company’s flagship product SchoolBzz is the culmination of Jennifer’s 17 years in education – working with thousands of parents and educators on their school marketing and engagement strategies. Before founding Hive Digital Minds, Jennifer led the efforts of two successful charter public school initiatives in Douglas County, Colorado. These schools have been recognized nationally for their educational programs and currently serve over 1,800 students in grades PK-12. Jennifer has a degree in mathematics from the University of California, Santa Barbara and also received her MBA from the University of Denver, Daniels College of Business. She enjoys speaking on the topics of school marketing, family engagement, entrepreneurship, and the future of work and frequently guest lectures at the University of Denver and several high schools in her local community. Jennifer can be reached at email@example.com.