Teach children how to grow edible plants which will encourage better eating habits and provide them with valuable life skills. These easy planting and growing projects will keep your preschoolers actively involved with their health and nutrition while learning about spring and summer plants, vegetables and herbs.
Plant and grow several window-sill herb pots to use for fun lessons about the senses. One herb pot should be filled with sweet herbs like mint, rosemary and anise (licorice aroma and flavor). Another herb pot could contain pungent herbs like thyme, dill, and cilantro.
Plant the seeds, label the pots, water sparsely and when herbs have grown leafy you will have a safe touch-sniff-taste lesson, some of which will be recognizable to the children. You can take this lesson one step further and show your kids how to dry the herbs in separate tied bunches hanging upside down (to keep leaf-potency while drying) then de-leaf for dry-herb seasonings. Allow your kids to take aromatic herbs home to season dinners.
Plant radish and carrot seeds in a double-sided viewing planter, similar to an ant farm (without ants), water and watch them grow downward. Cut a sweet potato in half, pierce with toothpicks and balance on a wide-mouthed jar filled with water to watch the roots consume the jar as it grows. Transfer all root vegetables into a deep dirt-filled planter to continue growing and dig-out when ready.
Microwave or bake brown potatoes for lunch or snack, slicing open and scrunching the ends together for fluff, and serve with an assortment of grated cheese, chopped tomatoes and fresh herbs from above. Baby carrots should be pre-steamed and refrigerated prior to serving with a yogurt and dill herb dip.
Grow rows of leafy vegetables such as spinach, Brussels sprouts, lettuce and celery from seed in long plastic wallpapering troughs. Follow planting and growing instructions on the seed packets and label your rows by gluing a Popsicle stick inside the corresponding seed packets which you have opened from the bottom end. Stake the seed packets with the appropriate vegetables because young plants are not generally recognizable.
As soon as the plants are recognizable pull out and discard weeds or grasses which could strangle the growing vegetables. When plants have grown, rinse and add to sandwiches, wraps, burgers, and tuna salads. Have children take home their favorites to encourage parents toward better eating habits also.
Berries and Fruits
Strawberries and tomatoes (yes, tomatoes are fruits) can be grown upside-down in a hanging Topsy Turvy planter to provide faster growth with larger fruits, or grown in troughs as above. Children can take ripened fruits home or keep them on hand for natural playtime snacking.
If your preschool has a juicer, another great springtime plant activity is to turn ripened fruits and vegetables into juices for the kids. You should also request each child bring a favorite fruit or vegetable from home to juice. With teacher-operated juicer, have children taste their juiced fruit or vegetables in small Dixie cups and then combine them all for an interesting health drink, refer to the article “Juicing, Smoothies & Milkshakes” on my news page at AssociatedContent.com/cmajors.
My experience has been that children will drink home-juiced natural drinks and eat home-grown fruits and vegetables, when their little hands have grown them. These spring-to-summer planting projects teach preschoolers important life skills such as confidence to grow their own food, the ability to make it taste great while supplementing their diets with highly-nutritious foods.