Growing Things

What happens when you plant a seed? You plant hope. Below are activities that all have a Growing Things theme, including engineering the parts of a flower, planting a garden, taking a rainbow garden nature walk, and learning about Wangari Maathai, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who inspired the planting of more than 30 million trees in Keyna. These activities include things that will help your child develop fine and gross motor skills, problem-solving and engineering skills, and can help them engage in cooperative play, while fostering creativity and perseverance. Feel free to throw in your own activities that might relate, and don’t forget to post your results to social media and tag @discoverymuse to share with everyone else! 

Let’s start our journey with Growing Things by reading aloud Eve Bunting’s beautiful book Flower Garden, then planting our own flower box gardens on the roof of the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum.

Now that we’ve read Flower Garden by Eve Bunting and explored how to plant a flower box garden on the roof of the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, what kind of garden can you grow today?

All gardens need soil or dirt, sun or light, and water. You also need seeds to plant. IF you have seeds and are ready to plant, wonderful. BUT IF YOU DON’T HAVE SEEDS, YOU CAN STILL HAVE A GARDEN. All it takes is some paper, pom poms, clothespins, and some paint. Make your own painted garden by following the directions here.

Art Activity/Fine Motor Activity — Make a Pop-Up Flower Garden with Miss Storm

For this art project, you will need:

  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Crayons, Pencils, Markers, or Paints
  • Your Imagination

Directions:

  • Fold the paper in half.
  • On the fold, make 6 cuts, about 2 inches long and 1 inch apart.
  • Pop every other cut through so that you have three pop-ups.
  • Use your art materials to draw a flower or vegetable garden.

Science Experiments

Read The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle.

Engineering a Flower — Follow along with Dr. Diane as we engineer the parts of a flower.

For this activity, you will need:

Index cards or pieces of paper

Label them seed, roots, stem, leaves, petals, flower, seeds, sun, water/rain, soil, air.

Building materials (you might use blocks, craft 

sticks, yogurt cups, paper tubes, pom poms, pipe cleaners, LEGOs, playdough, whatever you have around the house)

Follow along with us as we build a flower from the roots up. If your grown-up approves, post a picture of your engineering creation to @discoverymuse on social media so we can see what you made.

Bean Seed Experiments

Although many people don’t know it, beans are a type of seed. You can use a bean to grow a bean plant in a simple paper towel project. Bean plants grow relatively quickly, so they’re perfect for science experiments. You will also be able to observe the effects of sunlight on the growth of a plant.

What you’ll need to do this activity:

Dried bean seeds (pre-soaked works best)

Plastic baggie with locking seal

Wet paper towel

Directions:

  1. Wet a paper towel and fold it up so that it will fit inside a plastic baggie.
  2. Slide a bean between the wet paper towel and the baggie so you can see the bean.
  3. Create three baggies with the same method.
  4. Place one bag in a very sunny area, one in a partially sunny area and one in a dark area (such as inside a drawer or closet).
  5. Make daily observations, and you will soon see a green shoot emerging from your beans! Eventually, the shoot will turn into a plant.
  6. Compare the growth of the three plants. If possible, measure the plants daily and create a chart showing the comparison.

Physical Activity

Get some of those wiggles out while learning a little about how to make things grow!

Read Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert. 

Go on a walk and count how many flowers you see already blooming. Can you find all the colors of the rainbow? Try to find something red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. What other colors can you find? Keep track of your observations in your nature notebook or journal.

Planting a garden is another healthy choice! You’ll use your muscles as you dig in the dirt to plant your seeds. Take a virtual tour with Mr. Phil as he gets his spring garden ready, then get ready to come up with your own ideas for a healthy garden.

Math connection: Can you draw a grid showing what your garden will look like? What do you want to plant? How far apart do your plants need to be? Make a map that shows your garden.

Read The Curious Garden by Peter Brown.

Conversation Starters and Research Questions

On April 1, we celebrate the birthday of Mama Miti (“Mother of Trees”) Wangari Maathai, who was the first African woman and environmentalist to win a Nobel Peace Prize. Mama Miti founded the Green Belt Movement, which taught and empowered women around Kenya to take back their land, planting tree by tree. Thanks to Maathai’s efforts, more than 30 million trees have been planted in Kenya. To learn more about Wangari, Maathai, check out these short video interviews with her.

https://www.pbs.org/video/independent-lens-wangari-maathai-sees-the-forest-for-the-trees/

Now join Handley Regional Library’s Katie Moss for a special read aloud. Seeds of Change, about the life of Wangari Maathai.

Read Aloud of Seeds of Change with Handley Regional Library’s Katie Moss


If you want to explore further after reading Seeds of Change with Katie, check out this teacher’s guide that is filled with questions and activities.

A question to consider for family discussion and action: If one person was able to make an impact by planting trees, what can you do to make your own environment a better place?

Literature Connections:

GROWING THINGS Coloring Pages Created by Storm Waters

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