Easter and Spring Favourites

It is that time of the year; spring! The snow is a mushy mess, everything is dirty but the promise of a summer of beautiful prairie sun filled days, is just around the corner.

We love spring and every year there are some activities that are inevitable.

We clean the outdoor toys:

Sneaky poductive water play

We make birds nests:

We plan the garden (including the fairy garden):

We play with Easter knick-knacks!

We grow seedlings:

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Maybe try an April fools trick?

We do a cute craft such as these wee fluffy chicks:

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How are you celebrating this spring and Easter season?

 

Garden Love!

It is that time of year. The garden is screaming for attention and love and the children are… no only kidding! But finding the balance between doing garden chores and ensuring the children are safe and entertained can be a challenge. I like the balance of playing and doing activities with my children and having them entertain themselves, leaving time for me to enjoy my time. Independence is key as well as them understanding why gardening is so much fun!

The flowers have their own fairy garden in the yard. This is what it looked like last year:

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and have made portable fairy gardens in the past. fairy garden

They help choose and plant flowers and herbs every year.

We also take time every few days at this time of year to see what is popping up in the perennial bed. Tulips are about to bloom and hostas and lilies are shooting up all over the place! In a month’s time it will look something like this pic from last year.

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Raised beds are a wonderful way to grow vegetables in a more manageable way. I had lots of gardens when we first moved out of the city but could not keep up with the weeds. This is much more manageable and therefore fun, rather than a chore.

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In the background you can see a sand box,which is a great distraction for kids and adults alike and the pallets are the beginnings of a clubhouse. More info on that will follow.

Toys are cleaned as they are pulled out of winter storage under the deck. Yes they have a lot of toys but many were picked up at garage sales. The Cozy Coup we got Rose for her first birthday (from Quality Classrooms) and Freddy is now loving it. The little patio is the only alternative to grass and gravel for miles. We installed it a few years ago and it is well used as a road for ride-ons, bikes and scooters and as a canvas for chalk creations!

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Here are some great plant and garden ideas you can find over Quality Classrooms and inspiration from Pinterest.

How do you keep your children interested in the garden?

Growing seedlings

Growing a garden is a norm for my children but not all children have access to a planter let alone a garden. Including gardening options in our daycare and school curriculums gives all children the opportunity to experience the joy of growing a plant from a seed.

Growing seedlings

Here is a list of easy to grow plants. Success is importance so children are encouraged.

We have tried various growing options including peat pellets:

peat-potsBut nothing beats getting your hands stuck into a bag of potting soil, as we did when making fairy gardens:

There are so many ways to incorporate gardening in the classroom.

Ideas for cross curricular links

Science:

  • Experiment with conditions (variables) such as heat, light, water
  • Investigate what does a seed needs to germinate
  • Investigate what a plant needs to grow
  • Make hypothesis
  • Takes measurements
  • Record results
  • Learn about the parts of a plant by growing in a clear pot.

Sprout & Grow Window     Primary Science Plant & Grow Set

The Sprout and Grow Window and Plant and Grow Set allow children to see roots growing.

Math:

  • Measure the plant every few days
  • Measure leaf size
  • Count number of leaves or flowers

Cuisenaire Jr. Ants on a Log      Simple Tape Measure    Unifix Cubes

Cuisenaure Jr. Ants on a Log would be great for measuring leaves while this Simple Tape Measure or blocks would be suitable for measuring height.

Art:

  • Draw the seedling every few days to show development
  • Emphasise the importance of proportion
  • Use diagrams to represent plant life cycles

Language Arts:

  • Tell the story of a seed (life cycles)
  • Read non fictions texts about plants and gardening and analyse structure.
  • Use drama to act out the life cycle of a flowering plant (involving bees for pollination, and animals for seed dispersal)

There are so many ways to include growing seedlings or plants in the classroom.

Happy growing.

Garden Inspiration

It is that time of the year, relaxing time. It is a long weekend and the weather is good, time to think about the garden.

I have many plans, not all achievable this year.

Here are some ideas that are inspiring me:

A fabulous teepee, could grow vines or beans up it?

A magical gnome garden, fairy houses, hobbits huts, troll bridges, signs and magical creatures.

A permanent fire pit to make smores on and relax around in the evening.

A sunflower clubhouse!

Open ended features for the kids to play on.

Others things to include:

  • Sandpit
  • Sensory/water play area
  • Fairy garden
  • Shade
  • Seating
  • Keeping plants safe from the dogs!

The question I keep asking myself is What makes a garden special?

Fairy Garden

We made gorgeous fairy gardens a couple of weekends ago. They were party take home gifts but we also made one for Granny for Easter. These would make great Mother’s Day gifts too. I had spent the previous few weeks collecting wee milk cartons.

I figured they could cope with the moisture from watering better than regular card.

We set up a house building area with, flowers, craft sticks, bugs, an Uber Cutter and a glue gun.

Our super party helper Ang, was ready to help the kids glue their chosen items onto their house. They did have the option to use the glue gun as it is low temperature but most chose to have glue applied for them. They also spent time snapping craft sticks in half with the Uber Cutter. When they were happy with their fairy house they moved on out to the garage (the weather was miserable), to put the rest of their garden together.

Daisy went for the minimalist look!

Areas were set up in the garage:

  • Add gravel (for drainage)
  • Add soil
  • Add plants (two Pansy’s and a sunflower)
  • Decorate with rocks and glass pebbles
  • Add a butterfly and a few ladybirds

The children moved around the garage helping themselves and gradually building their gardens.

Discussions as to where the plants and decorations should be placed were had.

I forgot to say the planters were labeled before they went to be filled. It made life easy when it became time to go home.

The birthday cupcakes had a plastic fairy cupcake topper. The guests licked them clean and many included them in their garden.

They seemed to be very pleased with their fairy gardens.

Fairy/Zen Garden

A rock collection has been growing on our window sills, in pockets, in bags. They seem to pop up everywhere! Action had to be taken.

An empty Swiffer box made a perfect container for the garden. Daisy headed out to the sand box and came back swinging a lot of sand around. She organised some of her rocks (pebbles) and shells and added the fairy furniture we made last summer.

She wanted to be able to change the garden around. A pastry brush did a wonderful job of smoothing out the sand. Daisy made herself a challenge to see how many different ways she could set up her garden.

Smoothing the sand. This had an instantly calming effect.

Making a camp fire.

The middle rock is for fairies to sleep on.

Precariously stacked table and benches.

Making the ‘living room’ more cosy.

Reorganizing and adding some more rocks and pretty stones.

The garden was hidden away from little sister’s grasp. When it warms up we will find a  great spot outside. I have been informed we need to check to see if the fairies have visited… yes I will be sneaking down stairs and moving the garden slightly!

Raving about Radishes

Growing radishes with children is common in preschool and elementary classrooms. They are quick to germinate, pleasing to the eye, and take only 3-6 weeks before they are ready to harvest. Perfect for impatient kids who get discouraged easily and need a positive gardening experience.

We were able to use the garden at this time of year but if you are limited a good option is to grow radishes in a container. To look at the structure of the plant underground a Root Vue Farm is the way to go. Kids Gardening has a great selection of lesson plans that can be adapted to suit your students.

We love to plant radishes, although Daisy is not a huge fan of anything resembling a salad. I was determined that she enjoy the radishes she picked this year. They are perfect right now so we pulled all the largest.

They are easy to pull. Apparently the young leaves can be eaten but I have never tried them. As Daisy pulled the radishes we chatted about the shape and size, roots and leaves, and what the radishes needed to make them grow.

We did get a little distracted by how pretty the radishes looked and arranged them into radish art:

Daisy was very excited to find hugging radishes also:

Daisy cut the leaves and roots off the radishes and then washed them. I started by giving her a blunt knife as usual but her frustration prompted me to give her a sharper knife. I supervised with care as she worked.  The recipe I looked up suggested using a mandolin. This is a kitchen tool I have always loved the thought of but certainly not one I would use with children. Using it terrifies me; therefore I have not invested in one yet. The slap chop is a hugely valuable tool in my kitchen and is used to prepare nuts, herbs, veggies, and fruit; basically anything I can think of that needs chopped up into tiny pieces. It also makes me want to reenact the commercial!

Chopping anything with this tool is a huge hit with kids but they do need extra help to get the blades to reach the lower vegetables. A few slaps from mum does the job. With the radishes cut up safely, we added lemon juice, olive oil and parsley we just happened to have from our vegetable share. Scissors makes chopping herbs a quick job although I did this.

Daisy stirred the lot and was very happy with the finshed product. After the taste test she made a grimace so we added a pinch of sugar also.

I loved this salad. Daisy on the other hand tried a little as she was proud to have made it but still found it a little bitter.

I am still determined to share my love of the humble radish with Daisy so this recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen is next on my list to try and I think cooking the radishes will make them more palatable for kids.

Have you any good radish recipe suggestions?