Sweet Baby Peas… plant it, grow it, eat it!

The very best place for toddlers to learn is in the garden - it's a place for building strong bodies, engaging sensory experiences that feed the mind, it’s a place for learning language and to investigate the world around them in a super natural way. It’s a place where experiences ensure that little children get everything they need to develop their little brains – it’s the best place to learn by doing, it’s the best place for developing life-long skills!

He does it with his hands, by experience, first in play and then through work - the hands (of the child) are the instrument of man’s intelligence” Dr. Maria Montessori.

It’s a sustainable place, a place to teach vital environmental messages in a sub-conscious way.  The toddler does not have the language or cognitive development to understand abstract messages, but they learn from what they see!  If we want a better world – it starts with the kids!

“If we want to change the world -  put the toddler in the garden!  From the moment they can walk -  show it to them – name it for them, model skills to them and then give them the tools to plant it, grow it and eat it for themselves!  Ruth Barker – The Little Kid Specialist.

Plant it!

It can be daunting for a parent!  Very daunting indeed!  A want of giving children the very best – alongside the challenges of income and time that sometimes impede!  But the garden dare not be costly – and dare not take too much time!

Here’s the top tips:

. start with a small plot

. start with simple plants that are easy to grow – that have small growth times for the children to see changes and life-cycles quickly!

. seeds not seedling – show them lifecycles!

. allow toddlers to attend to jobs and water themselves (with supervision) as often as they like!

Here’s the top seven:

. silverbeet

. cucumber or zucchini

. snow pea

. carrot

. tomato

. sunflower

Planting one of each of the top seven is a great start (zone and weather permitting of course!).  These give toddlers so many vital lessons in life, language and science!  Such a rich vocabulary and experience from just seven plants!   Think of the different elements each provides – the silverbeet is a leaf, the snow pea is a pod with seeds, the carrot grows under the ground, the tomato is a fruit and has seeds and the sunflower…. Is just beautiful.  It’s the best first flower there is!

Grow it!

Here’s the top tips:

. children need to see the processes before the products – show them how to prepare the soil, plant the seed, water the seed, mulch the seedling, weed the garden and use compost!

. show them the processes one by one over time – little minds don’t’ need to be bombarded – nor do they have the attention span – children innately put the processes together themselves as they grow!

. be enthusiastic!

. name, name, name – everything!

. give toddlers their own tools – that fit into their hands – just for them!

. failure is a normal – it’s a part of the process – but more importantly – it’s a part of life – it teaches children to be resilient from the start!

. and please - never punish – it’s meant to be fun!

Eat it!

It’s the super fun bit!  Show the toddler how to prepare their food!  Let them be involved!  There’s a myriad of things to do with just seven plants!

Here’s the top tips:

. collect from the plot – make it fun with a super-sized basket for one silverbeet leaf!

. make it an adventure – sing!  “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go, we’re going on a big adventure – let’s go let’s go let’s go… come and have some fun!”

. provide simple cooking lessons – teach little ones how to peel, chop, slice, grate

. cook real food and let the toddler do all that they can!

. the process is always more important than the product!

. be enthusiastic!

. name, name, name everything!

. give toddlers their own tools – that fit into their hands – just for them!

And then...

. chop the silverbeet

. grate the zucchini

. coil the cucumber

. shell the peas

. peel the carrots

. roast the tomatoes and peel off the skin

. dry the sunflowers and pick out the seeds

. make a fried rice

. make a frittata

. make some carrot, zucchini or cucumber sticks

. make tomato soup

… and don’t forget the sunflower seed bread!

All the children’s tools in this blog are available at http://www.littlekidsthings.com.au/ or http://www.montessorichild.com.au/

Ruth Barker, The Little Kids Specialist is an Author, Columnist, Presenter, Montessori Guide and Play Specialist for Toddlers and Pre-schoolers.  You can find her here: http://www.toddlereducationservices.com.au/






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