Gardening: Plant the Seeds of Language
There are so many great activities which can revolve around gardening. It is perfect for just about any location as the garden can be in a small container next to a window or in the big back yard. It offers language skills revolving around math, science, nature, weather, history, cooking, food, culture, and just about any other topic you can imagine. Additionally, it affords the educator with a fun and fruitful way to connect with children throughout the entire summer – or year!
This is a great opportunity for the child to learn more about their local environment and how it is different from their native area. Visit a library with the child or provide books (reading/interest level appropriate) on the plants native to their previous home and plants native to their new home. Discuss what their favorite plants or flowers were before and their favorites now. Let them choose a plant, or plants, to grow here. Topics that can be discussed:
Spend time planting the seeds or the seedlings with the child. If they have a small space limit the experience to one or two containers they can care for in their home over the summer. Discuss how often plants need to be watered, how to weed a plant, what it should look like at the various stages of growth, pruning, and how to tell when it is ready to be eaten. Use lots of images for the various steps. Have children keep a daily record of what they do for the plant and how it looks. Give them a disposable camera to take pictures every day or every other day, and at the end of the summer, help them create a book of the experience.
Discuss the best way to harvest the various plants the child may choose and how each one should be stored. For instance, herbs may need to be eaten right away while most fruits and vegetables can be saved for a few days. Should they be placed in a refrigerator or on the counter?
Talk about the child’s favorite ways to eat this type of plant. Do they love mint tea? Are the tomatoes and peppers for salsa? Find recipes that feature the plant they will be growing and discuss the various components. Ask the students how different foods taste, how and when they are traditionally prepared, and even their fondest memory of a specific dish. Use the student’s favorite recipes and pictures of any dishes they create in their project book.
A constant across cultures is the necessity of food and the joy that is typically associated with specific foods. Use these good memories to help children enjoy developing their new language skills.
Have you used gardening or food to encourage language development? What worked best for your students?