Kids enjoy getting their hands dirty and helping out in the garden is a great way to put that love of dirt to good use. And gardening with kids is actually a great way to help their development. Planting seeds and helping them grow gives kids a sense of purpose and responsibility. The tasks of tending to a garden, such as adding soil and seeds to a pot, or watering plants helps with motor skills, body management and object control. In addition, the sensory experience of feeling the soil, the water, seeds or any natural material is very engaging for little ones.
There is also so much to talk about! And conversation is a great way to develop young minds. So to bring this all together, we have prepared a simple activity that will help kids develop math skills and creativity in an environment that is already nurturing their minds. This is a lovely activity you can set up and do regularly when you want to do some gardening with kids and observe different results. So next time you are out in the garden, take a moment to do this simple yet fun garden math and art activity.
- Seeds: we used “cat grass” seeds as they grow pretty easily
- Mix of natural materials and loose parts: we used stones, leaves, sticks, string, and colorful stones which we had from a local shop
- Pots with soil
- Gather natural materials by going on a nature walk or use previously collected treasures
- Prepare the pots with the soil
- Bring out all the materials
Gardening With Kids: Math And Art Activity
The math part mainly consists of working on numbers, shapes and patterns. Pattern awareness is key to child development. The ability to recognize and reproduce patterns as well as the ability to predict how a pattern will continue is a skill that positively affects future mathematical understanding and thinking. How to do this:
- Start by drawing numbers in the soil
- Trace with natural materials and work on shapes and patterns as you trace
For example: Draw number 1 and make patterns of 1, draw number 2 and make patterns of 2, or make a circle around number 3 and a triangle around number 4
- Fill the numbers with seeds
- Draw more shapes and fill with seeds
- Cover up
- Decorate and play
For the decoration part we used a different pot with soil and let the kids do their thing in a more unstructured way to let them explore at their own pace
- Optional: make a number/shape map. As you will read below, our numbers didn’t come out quite as clearly as we had hoped for so we had to guess. Drawing a sketch of your pots and having your kids write in the numbers and shapes is a great way to cross-check and also perfect for tying up this educational activity.
Gardening and Math Talk With Kids
Gardening with kids is good for the body, soul, and mind of everyone involved. It also opens up a whole lot of conversation topics. It is so important that you talk, talk, talk to your kids during activities like this. Observations lead to connections, which lead to discovery. Help them along by giving them the vocabulary they need to express their thoughts and questions. You can also ask some open-ended questions about what they think will happen and why. When gardening with kids there is so much to talk about and this activity also offers you the chance to add in some math talk. Here are some suggestions and conversation topics:
- What do you think plants need to grow? (water, sun, soil)
- Talk about the parts of the plant (roots, stem, leaves, flower, seeds)
- How do you think the plant “drinks” water?
- Measure the grass as it comes out
- Count the sprouts as they come out, which pot has more/less?
- Can we identify the numbers/shapes/patterns? (use the map if you have one)
We tended to the grass on a regular basis and were quite excited to see it sprout! Unfortunately, the numbers were not as clear as we would have liked them to be, so we had to do some detective work. First we talked about the activity and tried to remember which numbers we had drawn and then we tried to guess by the markings in the soil. It was a good way to reflect on the activity and ask ourselves if there is a better way of doing this. We decided next time we would make a number and shape map and mark where everything went so we could cross check once the grass grew. We also used the chance to work on scissor skills by cutting the grass which was fun and engaging in itself.
Even though the results were not what we expected, this activity gave us the opportunity to talk, observe, and make connections about how our world works. And any activity that gives us the chance to do this is great for us!
For more hands-on number and shape activities:
- Math Art Project For Kids: Easy DIY Shape Stencils
- Math For Toddlers: Easy Sensory Bath Time Activity
- String Rainbow Art Project: Explore Shapes With String
- Exciting Math Games For Movement And Learning
- DIY Math Game with Playdough
- STEM Activity: Build a Pyramid and Learn about Shapes
For more nature activities:
- Multisensory Learning: The Sound and Feel of Materials
- STEM Nature Box: Sort, Categorize, And Learn
- Beautiful Hands-on Activities For Preschoolers: STEM Nature Eggs
- Simple Science Project For Kids: Float or Sink
- Nature Puzzles: A Wonderful Way To Explore Shapes