Author: Gauri Kshirsagar
Children love nearly anything pertaining to nature. They love digging in the dirt, creating yummy treats, and playing around trees. Children are curious by nature, and there is no greater joy than that from a child who has cultivated plants from his or her own vegetable garden. We undertook this fun “our little tomato plant” activity as a summer project which went on for the next 6 months until it bore a tomato near Christmas time and is still going on. During this 6 months my twins enjoyed planting the seeds, watching them sprout, diligently watered them every day and eventually harvested what they had grown. Allowing my children to become involved in the planning, caring, and harvesting of a plant not only gave us parents a unique opportunity to spend time with them, but it also helped them develop an understanding of that which they are curious about – nature.
It all started with a trip to the local nursery. The twins were excited to see so many ‘baby’ plants at one place! They learnt about different plant like succulents, grass, climbers, aquatic plants and so on. My daughter whose favourite plant is the water lily (Lotus) was overjoyed to see the flower in its natural habitat, till then she had only seen them in a book. They even learnt that some plants have uses other than bearing fruits and flowers, like this mosquito repellent plant.
There were innumerable variety of seeds and gardening tools available in the ‘gardening accessories’ department. One of the best ways to encourage enthusiasm for gardening is appealing to a child’s senses by adding plants not only for the eyes, but those they can taste, smell and touch. Vegetables are always a good choice for young children. They not only germinate quickly but can be eaten once they have matured, hence after much deliberation we decided on taking a pack of tomato seeds home.The nursery staff was kind enough to help us out with the size of the pot, the soil and also the manure. We also bought two cute red and green little watering cans.
In the month of August theme of the month in their school was ‘Flowers and Plants’ in which we had to make lots of charts related to plant growth. This helped them to understand the growth of their tomato plant better and what did the plant need for its growth. The details of this is given in my blog post:Flowers and Plants: Easy-to-make charts and project ideas for kindergarteners
Sometimes when the twins forgot to water their plant in the morning, they could see that their plant appeared shrivelled by evening, hence they could directly relate their efforts and care to that of the well-being of the plant. Both the girls also developed a sense of responsibility and pride in themselves. Meanwhile they also took care of their friend’s potted plant when he wasn’t home.
When the yellow flowers started turning into tomatoes their happiness was palpable, they couldn’t wait for the tomato to grow in size and turn red. After we plucked the first batch they decided to gift a tomato each to their teachers. I am yet to receive one and looking forward to making a yummy tomato salad.
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