Shaping Healthy Lives: Gardening Connections

When working with young children, it is so very important to be flexible in your teaching. When you allow them to influence and guide their own learning, wonderful things can happen!

One particular day I had plans to introduce Hula Hoops on the playground. I showed up at the child care center with gear, games and activities all thought out and ready to implement. 

Well, we had recently planted their garden beds and when I arrived the kids were very eager to show me the snapdragons that had bloomed, the tiny cucumber that was just beginning to grow and to point out that something was EATING one of their plants! Everyone was gathered around the garden bed and each child was offering ideas on what might be munching holes in the leaves of their broccoli plant. The teacher and I encouraged the kids to inspect each leaf. They quickly discovered tiny green caterpillars on the underside of the leaves. 

As if on cue, a little white butterfly floated by. And our time outside also became a science lesson. 

We googled a few things and found out that the Cabbage White butterfly lays her eggs on the underside of the broccoli plant. When her eggs hatch, the caterpillars eat the leaves until they are ready to form a chrysalis and start the cycle over again. We were able to quietly watch the momma butterfly visit each leaf, laying more eggs. We brought out magnifying glasses to inspect the tiny eggs.  And we brought out bug jars to collect a few caterpillars to observe in the classroom. 

I put the Hoola-Hoops aside and pulled out the Dancing Scarves. For the rest of our time together we pretended to be butterflies floating around the playground, laying our eggs on broccoli leaves!