Every morning, we go outside to check on the garden barefooted and in pajamas. If it needs to be watered, Miss H fills up her little green watering can and empties it on the dirt while I use the hose. We prune, spray, and guide wayward branches to the right place. I love these special mornings with my little one, who soon will most likely decide that she doesn’t need to be by Mom’s side for these morning gardening sessions.
There are also so many lessons to be learned from a growing garden. The habit of gently caring for something. The habit of being consistent. Understanding what plants need to grow. Seeing a life cycle take place before their eyes.
In addition to our daily hands-on gardening experiences, I have been teaching Miss H other related skills through texts and activities.
Trying to round up books that fit in with Charlotte Mason’s high-quality text standards is always a challenge! I’ve found a few good ones that we’re enjoying right now.
Secrets of the Vegetable Garden (an Usborne Shine-a-Light book)- Miss H loves shining the flashlight on the book to see the hidden picture. The non-fiction text is informative yet lyrical, so it is really enjoyable to read.
The Night Gardener– This is a storybook with amazing illustrations. The story is whimsical but realistic. Miss H has asked to read this one every day! It’s not about vegetable gardens, but it fits in with our general theme.
Planting a Rainbow– This discusses all of the pretty colors in a flower garden, and identifies different types of flowers. It’s a great color review, too!
We checked this garden cook book out of the library. We’ll need to get it again when we plant our garden next spring! There are so many good tips that I’d never heard of, like spraying tomatoes with a water bottle to help the fruit set.
Wildflower ABC– This book is beautiful, and the pictures are done with potato prints. I love that concept! I also enjoy teaching Miss H about different types of flowers- some I’ve never heard of!
When I first asked Miss H how plants get food, she said, “They eat the worms in the dirt. Right, mama?” I couldn’t hide my smile: that was just too cute! But I decided we should work on understanding the concept of plants making food from carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight. These concepts were covered in some of the books we read, but I wanted to reinforce them with an experiment (more on preschool science experiments here.)
I found this experiment on Pinterest, and it seemed simple enough but informative. We pulled off a leaf from our squash plant, and put it in a bowl of lukewarm water. The leaf has to be completely submerged, so we placed a rock on it when it kept floating up. We placed the bowl in the sunshine and left it alone for an hour or two while we went to the grocery store.
When we came back, little bubbles had formed on the veins of the leaves, where they had emitted oxygen. I reminded Miss H of what we had learned in the books, and explained how the experiment worked. She was so excited, and the next day explained to Grandma why the bubbles formed.
Each morning, we count the number of tomatoes on the plants. Then we decide which plant has more and which plant has fewer tomatoes.
Although Miss H isn’t ready to start measuring with a ruler, just the act of using her hand as a basis for measurement is helpful. I ask her to put her hand next to the growing spaghetti squash every day, so she can see how quickly it grows. As it gets bigger, I ask her to measure how many hands long it is.
Grow It Cook It suggests using plastic bottles to make garden labels, but since I used up our bottles in our recent train craft, I decided to use these circular egg cartons that we get from our CSA. I’ve been trying to think of what to do with them for weeks! We painted the inside of them, and then glued a dowel inside. Miss H worked really hard to complete hers. I think it makes a cute addition to our garden!
Miss H was a little confused that we could put zucchini in “cake”, but we made a delicious chocolate zucchini bread together. I love cooking with her because it teaches her so many important skills. She learns real-world applications for reading, counting, measuring, and even gross motor skills when she stirs the batter (and inevitably has to wipe it off of the counter).
Make sure to follow me on Pinterest to see other Charlotte Mason inspired learning ideas!
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