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A FUN, Hands-on Introduction to Plants for Kids!

This spring I’ve put together a little introduction to plants for kids. We do a lot of child-led learning, and my kiddo led me straight toward a mini-unit on plants and gardening. I’ve never seen anyone so excited about seeds!

Introduction to plants for kids - ideas, activities, books, and resources to introduce plants, gardening, and growing to kids. Preschool, kindergarten, elementary grades.

By far the biggest advantage to homeschool is the opportunity to leave the paperwork behind and learn from hands-on experience. The weather is beautiful now in the early spring. We are real-life nature adventures. It’s the perfect time to dig deep into a unit study about plants and gardening.

In this post, you’ll find all the resources you need to introduce your children to plants, seeds, and gardening.


Ideas for Hands-on
Plants & Gardening Lessons

Gardening with Kids

My oldest was so excited to grow his own plants. We decided to start with a small container garden in our back yard.

We found this video on YouTube with instructions on how to use milk jugs as containers. What a perfect way to get started with materials we already have at home!

  1. Cut off a section of the top of your milk jug
  2. Cut four Xs on the bottom with an exacto knife for drainage
  3. Fill with potting soil
  4. Add your plants or seeds

We hung the containers along the fence with zip ties to keep them up high and away from the prodding and destructive hands of our toddler.

Be sure to do your research and ask the experts at your garden store or farmer’s market about what plants to start and when. February in South Florida is the loveliest time of year, but many plants can be started indoors in chilly northern winters.

My son chose a small rosemary plant from our garden center and a small pack of basil seeds. Yum!

 


Take an Up-close Look at Seeds and Plants

We ditched the cut and paste this week in favor of up-close examination of plants in their natural habitat and under a microscope at home.

20170220_101738We compared large, round broccoli seeds, teeny tiny basil seeds, spiky seeds, and seeds that looked like tiny sticks. We were surprised at the variation of seed sizes and shapes from plant to plant.

Using Our 5 Senses

After comparing seeds we examined roots and leaves from familiar plants in our own backyard. We activated our prior knowledge of the five senses to describe the ways plant parts look, smell, feel, and taste.

This process organically introduced new, plant-based vocabulary that he is now using in day-to-day life: minerals, roots, moisture, soil, herbs

Related Post: How to Dissect a Plant and Make Powerful Observations


Take a Field Trip to Learn About Plants!

We love learning out-and-about in the world and meeting people who are passionate about plants! Don’t hesitate to ask questions! We’ve found that people are excited to share their love of plants with an interested child.

  • Children’s Garden

If you have a botanical garden or park close by, it’s worth it to seek out gardens planted specifically for kids. You’ll find hearty plants are safe to explore with little hands.

  • Farm 

Schedule a farm tour or find a you-pick farm to pick some of your own flowers, fruits, or veggies. Harvest time is an exciting time, but you can ask to visit a farm at any time of year. Perhaps you could even see the seeds being sown and return at harvest time to see how the plants have grown!

  • Farmer’s Market

Check out a local farmer’s market to check out fresh and ripe produce, flowers, and seeds. Look for seedlings for sale from growers with advice for young gardeners. A farmer’s market is a great place to get some seasoned advice about planting.

  • Garden Center

Be sure to visit your local garden center to see plants in all their stages of growth – from seeds and seedlings to full-grown flowering trees. We headed over for a little potting soil and ended up spending an hour examining all of the plants.


Resources for your
Plants & Gardening Lessons

Books About Plants for Kids… and Grown-Ups

20170214_102708There are so many wonderful children’s books about plants. I’ve gathered a few of our favorites below.

Depending on where you live, you might find that children’s books are somewhat limited. We are in south Florida, and let me tell you – reading about the leaves changing, the snow, and the rainy spring (spring is our dry season) gets old pretty quick.

It’s a bit easier to find information about local plants and produce in “books for grown-ups.” So, don’t shy away from gardening handbooks!

Always be sure to look for books that are specific to your state or region when you’re deciding what to plant. Not every plant can thrive in your backyard!


Children’s Non-Fiction

Children are wonderful investigators. These books will bring plants right to their level. Take a look at what happens underground, how plants grow, and how our food gets to our dinner table in these vivid and engaging books about gardening and plants for kids.

Dinner from Dirt by Emily Scott
Kids’ Container Gardening by Cindy Krezel
National Geographic Kids Seed to Plant Reader
From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons


Picture Books about Plants

When we get into a topic, we really get into it. We’ve been learning about plants from morning to night! These picture books make the perfect bedtime story after a long day of planting. Plus, you just can’t miss a ride on the Magic School Bus!

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
Oh Say Can You Seed by Bonnie Worth (a Cat in the Hat book)
The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds by Joanna Cole


Plants & Gardening Playlist for Kids

Check out our Plants and Gardening Playlist for Kids on YouTube or stream it here. Engaging, stories, songs, and shows all about plants and how they grow!  Run Time: 40 Minutes



Movies About Plants for Kids

Unit studies are so much fun because kids are constantly making connections across books, experiences, movies, activities, and projects. It’s really amazing to watch! So, bring on the popcorn! Friday night is movie night at our house!

Honey I Shrunk the Kids
This was such a hit at our house! Get a close up view of the Szalinski’s backyard – plants, bugs, and all! It was also fun to watch a movie featuring a scientist as the main character.

Ferngully and Wall-E are some of our favorite “green” movies, and the first Tinkerbell movie has a sweet, fantasy take on the magic of nature. Tinkerbell movies are one of the few that all of my kids can agree on – ages 2 – 7, two boys and a girl!


Plant Shows for Kids

I love educational programming for kids now. I feel like the 80s were filled with cartoon animals trying to kill each other. Now we have ones that are encouraging kids to go on outdoor adventures. Learn even more about plants with these shows:

Xploration Awesome Planet Season 1, Episode 5, Plants
Nature Cat Season 1, Episode 3, Part 2 Travelin’ Seeds

Magic School Bus Season 1, Episode 11: Goes to Seed  (Netflix)
Sid the Science Kid Episodes 28/29: The Dirt on Dirt and Don’t Forget the Leaves! (Netflix)
Bill Nye the Science Guy Episode 11: Plants (Netflix)

Netflix changes it’s line up frequently. If these aren’t available, check your library shelves!


What plants are growing in your garden? Tell me in the comments below!

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