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Learning about plants and gardening can help preschoolers develop an empathy for the environment. Gardening is also a fun, healthy activity that most preschoolers are likely to enjoy. This preschool thematic unit on plants and gardening will acquaint preschoolers with some plant and gardening basics. The preschoolers will learn about different plants and what goes into making a garden.
The preschoolers will learn how plants need to be nurtured and how to tend to a garden. They will learn to recognize different gardening tools and implements. They will learn the importance of water, sunlight, and soil for plant growth. They will develop:
- Speaking skills by talking about what they have done or are doing.
- Reading skills by perusing picture books.
- Art skills by drawing pictures of plants and gardens.
- Math skills by sorting plants and non-plants, and counting number of plants, leaves, flowers, and flower petals.
- Plants, seedlings, seeds
- Gardening implements for children
- Flashcards of plants
- Photographs and videos of gardens
- Photographs of garden creatures - butterflies, bees, birds, etc.
- Drawing paper
- Colors - water-color, pastels, pencils, markers
- Picture books on the plant and gardening theme
- A garden patch
- Chart showing plant growth
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Tell the preschoolers that you are going to learn about plants and gardens, and ask them if they have any plants and gardens at home. Along with displaying real plants, show the preschoolers pictures and photographs of a variety of other plants that cannot be brought into the classroom. Also show them photographs of gardens. Monet's garden in Giverny is a good choice and can be found online. The link is given below.
Learn about plants
Talk about what plants are. Living things made of the following parts: roots, stems, branches, leaves, flowers, and fruit.
Learn about seasons and environments
Talk about the different seasons---summer, winter, spring and autumn---and different environments---deserts, forests, grasslands, mountains, lakes, ocean. Talk about how plants and gardens are affected by seasons and environments. Show the preschoolers photographs of plants in different settings. For example, plants in a desert, plants in a tropical forest, a garden in the autumn, a garden in the spring.
Learn about gardening
Talk about gardening. Ask them what a garden has? Plants and trees and shrubs and creepers and flowers, of course. How are these planted? Show them a chart detailing plant growth. What are the different implements used in a garden? For instance, a hoe, a spade, and a rake.
Learn about planting a garden
Take the preschoolers to a garden patch and show them how to dig holes and plant seedlings. Then water the seedlings. Tell the preschoolers that plants need soil, water and sunlight to grow. If they don't get these, they won't grow or grow big enough. Plants also need the right environment. Get quick growing plants like pumpkins and have the preschoolers observe how these grows.
Learn about the uses of plants and gardens
Plants and gardens create a pleasant atmosphere and make us happy. Some plants are edible---you can eat their stems, leaves, flowers or fruit---and are planted in kitchen or vegetable gardens. Some edible plants are asparagus, lady's finger, tomatoes, and cauliflower.
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Hand out drawing sheets and colors, and ask the preschoolers to draw and color the plants they like. They can also design and paint a garden the way they would like it to be.
Make a class garden. Collect pictures of each child and stick them on a large poster sheet and have each child draw a decorative flower around his or her photo. They can also stick colored papers to make collage flowers. Write the child's name under the picture, and put the poster up for everyone to see.
Mix up pictures of plants and non-plants, and have the preschoolers sort out which are plants and which are not plants.
Show the preschoolers different flower pictures, and have them count how many petals each variety has.
Read out aloud picture books on plants and gardening. Show the preschoolers how to turn the pages, and point to each word as you read it. Have the preschoolers repeat the words after you.
What Else to Do
Take the preschoolers to a botanical garden and, if possible, to a garden show. There are many websites of garden designers online; you can also view these.
Have a discussion on the preschool thematic unit on plants and gardening. Encourage the preschoolers to talk about what they have learned and the artwork they have done. Give each child a chance to speak. This will give you an idea about their comprehension and presentation skills.