After a post of pastries, it seems fitting to give you all a fresher, greener bit of inspiration for your food play. It is officially spring, after all, and local gardens are already producing such beautiful spring produce!
There is so much for kids to learn in the garden! How different foods grow. How weather affects our food. How bugs can be helpful and how they can be pests…
And the garden is full of amazing sensory activities for kids as Dayna from Lemon Lime Adventures explains in this link! There’s dirt and leaves and worms and all sorts of things to touch and squish and dig and break and carry.
Gardening is also a really natural way to touch food and learn about food with no stress that there’s any pressure to eat it. Though I do believe that straight from the garden snacks are the best!
There are so many ways to get kids interacting positively with plants this spring! Here are 5:
1. Plant a garden at home.
If you don’t have a big backyard, have no fear, there is a way to get edible plants into every home environment. If you have a backyard, planting a garden in the ground or a raised bed is a great option. If not, a pot or planter works great and if you don’t have room for that a small windowsill garden in the kitchen, living room or bedroom teaches the same ideas as a big backyard garden.
2. Volunteer at a local community garden
I love the trend that so many communities are starting gardens on empty lots and unused land. Find a community garden near you and sign up to volunteer for a morning or afternoon. Maybe you’ll become so inspired you’ll want to start your own plot! Or maybe the experience will give your kids that extra knowledge about where food comes from next time you’re in the grocery store. It’s also a great way to enjoy spring weather and foster an appreciation for how much work it takes to produce our food!
3. Go to a farmers market.
Now that weather is warming up, find a farmer’s market near you and plan a morning outing! There is so much to see and learn at the farmer’s market and farmers and vendors are usually happy to talk about their farms and their produce and explain how different foods grow!
4. Pick-Your-Own fruits.
It’s a little early in the season for most pick-your-own farms, but once the strawberries start fruiting, lots of farms have options to pick a pint (or 5 or 20) of your own. If you pick lots of extra fruit, don’t worry, you can easily freeze a bunch with this great tutorial by Cooking Light and enjoy the taste of summer for months into next winter!
5. Go to a local garden center.
A trip to a local garden center is another great way to give kids positive learning experiences with plants. There are rows and rows of plants to touch and learn about and the whole experience is free!
Look at the tags and see what the plants grow into, what fruits and flowers they bear. Check out the roots growing out of the bottoms of containers and touch the leaves.
Activity: Flower, Fruit And Veggie Arranging
Have your child help arrange and put away any fruits and veggies you brought home for one more opportunity to touch all those foods. Then create some flower arrangements or pot some plants.
Or you could do a food play activity and make a food play garden or flower arrangement. I made the flowers in the picture above with strawberries, chia seeds, a tangerine and herbs from my garden for the stems and leaves.
I love the sensory experience of picking herbs. They smell so good! planting, picking and playing with herbs is a great way to expose kids to these strong smells and tastes!
Happy spring and happy food play!