Welcome to another post of our new blog meme link up-“I didn’t just pin it, I did it!” Designed to get us to come out from behind the computers, and put all this cool stuff we see into actual practice. This week, I’ve chosen to use this blog again (as opposed to my other site) because I chose an activity with my children. Here is the original post that I found on Pinterest about gardening with your special needs child. My own garden has been horribly neglected the past couple of years, so this inspired me not only to work with my kids, but to get my garden into shape.
As I started planning what to purchase and do the projects, the learning and therapeutic possibilities are just endless! I was almost overwhelmed with what to focus on, so I just let my kids take the lead. I let them choose what they wanted to do, encouraged them to try a few things, and just let the learning naturally happen. This activity can be adapted for just about any age group. With older children, you can even begin at the very beginning to work on executive functioning skills such as planning out a project (what supplies they will need, etc.) and then move into the execution. You also talk about a favorite salad or veggie dish and what veggies go into that dish, and plan your garden accordingly. As the garden grows over the summer and you go back to it to tend to it, you can help them understand time, growth processes, things like that.
Here are some of the skill sets that can be incorporated into gardening with your kids:
Gross motor skills-as pictured.
Fine motor skills-from digging a small hole, placing plants in pots or holes in ground, packing dirt around, snipping/pruning
Sensory-textures and touching all the different things involved-plants, dirt, water
Sensory-sound, we listened to the birds as we did our work and talked about them
Sensory-visual, different colors
Sensory-taste (at end of summer, of course)
Reading/literacy-words on the stakes that come with the plants, as appropriate of course, whether it be decoding or interpreting or comprehending what it says
Speech-I had K try to mimic some of the different sounds, from F in flower, to D-d-d for dirt and so on. Many plants have unusual names and often are new words that kids have not been exposed to before (relates to literacy too). I had fun asking B to say “geranium.”
Colors-self explanatory, but we did some matching too (what other plant do you see that has red on it?).
Math-counting for little ones, multiplying for older ones “If we have 4 tomato plants, and each one gives us 20 tomatoes….” and then take it up a notch for higher skills as appropriate “and if we sell each tomato for $0.25…how much will we have?”
Executive Functioning-as appropriate, work with older kids to chunk down the entire gardening project into manageable tasks; work on planning, problem solving, start the garden-then stop for the day or to take a lunch break-then return-be able to pick up where you left off, replan and adjust your plan (what if the store is out of peppers-what 4 plants should you buy instead) and so on.
Science-whatever is age appropriate, for my guys, we just talked very general about nature and giving back to the Earth, and healthy eating.
Nutrition-as age appropriate
Responsibility and actions/consequences-weeding, watering, (what will happen if we don’t water our plants?)
Trying to really focus on my garden through my kids’ eyes made this year’s project much less work, and much more fun. I hope that their interest continues.