Nature Inspirations

Gardening Tips

No Pro Progressive Patch to Table Gardening Tips Publication –  Gardening Tips

Gardening Tips

Gardening Tips2

Colors of Nature

Using natural materials with children has many benefits.  It saves the earth and our children from being exposed to numerous chemicals and synthetic materials.  But natural materials provide a sensory experience that taps into all of our senses – vibrant colors of the world, scents and tastes of gardens, and textures of the elements.  Recently my cooperating teachers used berries to stain birdhouses with the children.  They turned out fab!  Which led us to provide the children with the opportunity again while hosting a plot at the Children’s Fest for Day of the Young Child.  Up-cycled fabric canvases were used with berries, beets from our garden, ground coffee beans, and herbs.  The children crushed their own colors with mortar and pestles (don’t ask me which is which, is the mortar the bowl or the grinding tool!).  Then they dabbed their brushes in, pushed fabric right in the bowls, or dipped their bare fingers in and smeared away!  Nature as our provider of beauty for art rich experiences!  Wonderful!

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nature word

A journal during any season is a great activity to add to a nature walk of hike.  Your child may just draw pictures at first and then add words as they progress.  If your child is not a writer yet try creating a scrapbook of collected materials and pictures.  Even preschoolers can take great pictures after a little lesson in gentle care of a camera.  You will be amazed at how the world looks in their eyes!

Snowflakes are fun to catch on black paper and then draw with a white crayon!  Leaves can be collected and dried.  Pine-cones can be used for painting (roll in paint like a rolling pin and then on paper) or for bird feeder creations.

Take your child outdoors for a walk.  Teach them to stop and look at the leaves on the trees, the insects in the sidewalk cracks,  the shape of the icicles, the colors of rocks on the trail or in the creek, the texture of the bark on a tree, and other little details that they mention to you as you explore together.  Then take a moment to let them record their ideas and discoveries in their journals.  A nature journal is about what they discover or see and what they might want to learn more about! (Archive from Polliplay January E-Zine by Polliwog and Flutterbys)

nature journal



Plant a garden …

Whether in a spacious outdoor landscape, in a flower box, or in a collection of planter pots – it is critical to expose children to the process of growing a garden.  Children experience many benefits from growing their own harvest.

Benefits of Gardening with children:

  • The natural environment gives children a place to practice their social skills; “green space fosters social interaction and thereby promotes social support” (Louv, 2008).
  • When children have daily opportunities to care for plants and trees, animals and insects, they practice nurturing behaviors that help them interact in kind and gentle ways with people as well” (Louv , 2008).  How these interactions pan out can mold their capacity for empathy, kindness, turn taking, conversation, understanding of consequences, and other social skills we strive to foster in our children (Louv, 2008).
  • Recently I attended a workshop The Atelier of Taste: Exploring the Language of Food hosted by Branches Atelier.  This workshop highlighted tasting food (especially natural foods from gardens and farmer’s markets) as one of the 100 languages children possess.  To think of taste as a language opens our minds as educators to a whole new world that children have the right to experience.  When the children are a part of this process of preparing/cooking and then eating the foods the desire to be a part of the tasting is much more appealing.  It no longer is about the strange pepper sitting in front of them but about the pepper that they helped cut.  Preferences suddenly expand!
  • Children get to learn about the life-cycle in a hands on way.  They are a part of the process: seed, sprout, plant, fruit or flower.
  • Children have the opportunity to have ownership over a place in their environment.  They must tend to the garden for it to flourish.  Watering, weeding, planting, harvesting are all tasks that must be completed.  These tasks have benefits of their own (fine motor skills, conservation, problem solving, cause and effect, etc.).

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“To forget how to dig the earth and tend to the soil is to forget ourselves” – Ghandi

Resource: Louv, Richard.  2008.  Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder.

Garden to Kitchen:  Herb Garden Pesto

(Archive from Polliplay January E-Zine by Polliwog and Flutterbys)

Your home herb garden can inspire cooking adventures!  Let your child help cut or pluck leaves from the Basil plant for this recipe.


2 cups fresh chopped Basil (let child help rinse leaves in a strainer and cut leaves with child scissors into fine pieces or press the button on the food processor)

1 Garlic Clove (pressed fresh or scooped from a jar of minced garlic)

2 Tsp.  Lemon Juice

1/4 Cup of Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese (Allow child to help scoop and measure ingredients)

1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/4 Cup Pine Nuts (blended in a food processor or blender until smooth)


1. Rinse and cut basil.  Set Aside.

2. Blend pine nuts (for extra flavor toast in oven on a cookie sheet first) and garlic with oil in processor or blender (perfect time for a little helper to push the button).

3. Add basil, lemon juice, and cheese.  Continue to blend until a smooth paste forms.

4. If you have a mortar and pestle then scrap the processor and allow your child to crush up all the ingredients together for a homemade pesto with a bit more texture.

5. Serve heated or at room temperature on your child’s favorite shaped noodles.

Be sure to serve a light amount for your child.  Pesto is a strong flavor.  If introduced the right way your child may love the new taste that pesto brings to their pasta!



Get the Squirm on Worms!

(Vermi-Composting aka worm composting)


Why Compost?

Composting helps reduce waste by turning organic materials such as food waste or yard debris into soil and fertilizer for our gardens and planting needs.  Composting can:

Save Landfill Space

Enrich our Gardens

Prevent Pollution

Reduce Greenhouse Gases

Save Money (by reducing cost of gardening supplies and garbage collection fees)

Provide You with Empowerment and Satisfaction by Knowing You are Helping the Earth

Why Worms?

Regular Composting is great!  Worm composting is even better.  Worms speed the composting process up and decrease the rate of Methane gas production.  They also assist the breakdown of soil so that is high quality for gardening (loose and well drained).  Plus worm composting is a lot less smelly!

Want to know more about composting?  Just ask!  We will share our tips and secrets.

Worm Facts

Red Wiggler Worms are the best for composting.

An earthworm like the Red Wigglers can consume ½ of its weight or more in a day.

Worms are Vegetarians!

Worms love bread, grains, coffee grounds, ink free paper, fruits, tea bags, & veggies.

Worms do not like dairy, fats, meats, feces, or oils.

Worms will multiply rapidly so check your bin for more worms in your compost.  The more worms you have the more food & waste you will need to feed them.

Worms like moist environments but they don’t like to get soaked.  Too much water can be dangerous for them.

Dirt is called grit for a worm.  They eat this with their meals to help digest and breakdown food in their digestive systems.

(Archive Polliplay Feb-March E-Zine by polliwog and flutterbys)

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