Children learn through their senses – gardening and cooking are both perfect for doing just that. Think of the textures, smells, sounds, colours and tastes.
Herbs are plants that definitely lend themselves to sensory exploration and they are also packed with essential vitamins and nutrients.
Gardening and Cooking have so many benefits. They both:
- Improve overall health and well being
- Are educational
- Develop a range of key skills: sensory, fine motor, gross motor, reading, maths, science, cooperation
- Can give children a sense of responsibility and self confidence
- Help children to learn about cause and effect in a practical way
- Encourage children to eat and experiment with food
- Allow you to spend quality time with your children
- Are fun!
Just remember to:
- Keep gardening & cooking tasks simple
- Give the children responsibility
- Keep the children involved
- Use child friendly tools/implements – this will help provide motivation and make it more fun
- Have ‘special’ clothes – all kids love to dress up!
- Keep it relaxed
- Have fun learning together
In addition to the benefits of gardening that I have mentioned above, I think there are two other key benefits:
Gardening can help redress the balance of children’s lack of connection with nature. This has got to be good in this age of technology!
It can also help children’s understanding about where food comes from – our modern society is often disconnected from food production.
Ideas for gardening –
Spring is a great time of year to get out in the garden and there are so many activities you can do with children to get them in touch with nature:
Give them their own container or small space in the garden – raised beds can provide hours of fun and exploration for a child.
Create a miniature garden, taking gardening down to children’s eye level using their own toys/hobbies eg create a dinosaur/fairy/ garden. I will be posting about a Peter Rabbit garden soon.
Get them growing their own food – choose fast growing foods such as herbs, radishes, onions or courgettes.
If you are on a budget, cut off tops of carrots, turnips, parsnips. They will grow again on a saucer of water or in a pot.
Make planting fun for the children by decorating pots, making labels etc.
Indoor gardening has many of the same benefits so if the weather is terrible, take growing inside.
Find further ideas on this post Encourage Little Green Fingers and
Cooking is an essential skill for healthy lifestyles. The younger children are exposed to cooking, the better the chance they have to learn about nutrition and healthy choices. It is widely accepted that by eating better, children do better.
Ideas for cooking –
Choose a simple recipe together. You could try one from here. (All of these recipes have fresh herbs in which are so good for our health)
Go shopping/look in your kitchen together for the ingredients.
Use things you have grown together – this will encourage the children to eat what you have grown .
Repeat the recipe many times so that they learn to make it themselves and then can be creative by changing, adding things etc
Decorate a table mat, place names etc ready for laying the table.
Find further ideas on this post Cooking with your Children
Why not create a family book to store pictures, dates etc of what you have planted and chart the progress? You could then add recipes/meals you have created using the produce you have grown together.
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Have you got any tips for growing things/gardening with children? Have you done any cooking using ingredients you have grown?