Petite Gardeners

My petites love to garden and here in the Pacific Northwest we get a little rainy and gardening for our family often doesn’t extend into the winter months.  Until now, I was poking around on Pinterest the other night and saw this, first of all could this little petite be any cuter?  No, I don’t think so.  Check out Katie’s blog here, this is the tutorial for the garden box.  I am in love and digging through my felt to see what I already have to make this adorable play garden.  I haven’t tried the tutorial yet, but just looking at all the details provided I am thinking I am in good hands.  What a fantastic idea to tide petite gardeners through the winter months.

Garden Box Made by Katie at www.skunkboyblog.com

Garden Box Made by Katie at http://www.skunkboyblog.com

Since I am so fond of pairing toys with books I thought about some of our favorite books about gardening and one author comes to mind – Lois Ehlert.  We absolutely love her books, the bright colors and abstractness of the images are fabulous.  I was so excited when I realized that there is a boxed set of her gardening books – Lois Ehlert’s Growing Garden.  The set includes Planting a Rainbow, Eating the Alphabet and Growing Vegetables Soup.  These books are really fantastic for little ones who are learning words and colors as well as for older kiddos who are learning about planting, harvesting and cooking.  These books coupled with the lovely garden box would be an amazing gift for an little one who loves to garden.

Lois Ehlert Boxed Set

Little Green Thumbs

gardening books for kidsThere are so many amazing books for young children.  Here are some of my favorite books about gardens, plants or gardening for the petites.  I love how these stories feature boys and girls and above all the love for growing things.

The Tiny Seed a sweet story where children get the opportunity to learn about the life cycle of a seed.   

Planting a Rainbow this is a great story about planning seeds, both my girls love it and the rainbow of colors, more for younger kids.  The board book is a particular hit.

The Curious Garden a great story about a little boy named Liam who lived in a dreary city and found a little plant and helped it to grow into a fabulous garden.

Grandpa Green – this is by far one of my favorite books, it is beautiful.  The story of a man’s life is told through the hedges that he shapes in his garden.  I’m not going to lie, I cried the first time I read it, it’s so sweet.

Ladybug Girl Visits the Farm – who doesn’t love a good Ladybug Girl book?  I know my girl does.  This one combines a lovely story and stickers that can be placed within the storybook.

Growing Vegetable Soup – this is another great book about growing your own food, so much fun, more for younger kids.

My Garden – I love this story a little girl who helps her mother in the garden and then uses her imagination to create her own remarkable garden.

Mrs. McNosh and the Great Big Squash – My girl has loved this silly book and how it rhymes since she was about two.  She loves the giant squash and how silly it is.

Jack’s Garden –  This is the story of Jack and how he made his garden, this book shows the steps and the tools needed to make a garden.

 

I love all of these books, so many have amazing illustrations and inspire the love of growing things.  These books pose as fantastic conversation starters as well.  As a teacher, I have spent a lot of time speaking with parents about reading.  One of the most common questions I got was: How do we do more than just read with our kids, and what does that specifically look like?  Here is what I suggested based on the age of the kids.

2-3 year olds

  • What illustration/picture did you like the best? (start using words like illustration)
  • What was your favorite part of the story? Why? (if not verbal have them point)
  • Asking specific questions about what they see in the illustrations, having them point out specific things.

3-4 year olds

  • Before you read a new book, have the petite look at the cover and then do a “picture walk” where they just look through the book at the pictures.  When they are done ask them to make a prediction about the story.
  • It is also good to start using words like title and author as well.  Make sure to point these out on the cover.
  • Asking what they predict will happen next in the story at different points?
  • Asking them what the problem is in the story? How they think it could be fixed?
  • Asking them to retell the story, what happened first and last?
  • What was their favorite part?
  • What did the illustration make them think about?
  • When the story is over ask if they would want to tell a friend about it and who they would tell.

These are just a few things that will support your young pre-readers and get them thinking more actively about the stories they are listening to. Of course just pick a few of these each time, or questions that are more pertinent to the story.  All in all these questions are a great way to bridge listening to thinking about stories.

Happy reading.

Erin

Starting Seeds Indoors in Egg Shells

photo 5

Kentucky Wonder Green Bean

As spring rolls around in most parts of the country, here in Seattle, we usually have a few warm days and lots of rainy days intermixed.  I don’t mind the rain for sleeping in, lounging and reading a book, sipping tea etc.  For planting seeds, it is often too soggy.  A few years ago I had a student who made me a grow light and stand in wood shop – awesome right?  However, I have no idea where my precious light went.  So this spring I have decided to try a new way of starting seeds inside.  Egg Shells.

I had seen and read about people using egg-shells, and I wasn’t really sure how this would work, in the past I’ve used the little peat pots, or the starter discs that fill up with water.  Last spring, I used those little discs and the batch I got was infested with bugs and once I started watering the plants the bugs hatched – super gross.

I also really am not a fan of paying for things that have temporary uses  – like those little dirt discs or peat pots.  My thinking is that we eat a ton of eggs, probably should have chickens we eat so many eggs.  Since I have an abundance of free egg shells I thought I would give it a try.  Let me tell you, I am so glad I did.

I was able to grow seeds in  lightning speed.  Within one week the seeds were doing amazing and some were even overachieving like the one on the left.  Okay let me tell you what we planted in our egg-shells.

Going from left to right:one week in

  1. Kentucky Wonder Green Beans
  2. Tender Green Beans
  3. Straightneck Yellow Squash
  4. Zucchini
  5. Cucumbers
  6. Kentucky Wonder Green Beans

After two weeks some of the green bean seedlings were getting so big they needed a larger space, so I put a few of them into smaller pots.  It is still in the low 40s at night, sometimes still frosting and I am planning to keep them inside just a little bit longer before the hardening off process will take place.

Cucumber

Cucumber

What I thought was so interesting about using the eggs is that the roots seem to be so much more extensive than I have seen in the past, I don’t know if it is the thin membrane on the eggs, but look at those roots.  photo 2The petite and I had so much fun pealing the egg off of the new little plant and putting them into bigger pots.

After already planting these little seeds I read that sometimes smaller seeds do better (oh well, mine did just great), so now I just need to make a frittata, quiche or something to get some more egg shells to start my next batch of seeds, as you may have seen me mention the petite wants to grow “salad” in the gutter garden, so we need to get seeds sown to make her gardening dreams come true.  I loved doing this project and it is really so easy to do.  The hardest part is remembering not to demolish the egg-shell when you crack it.

A really great blog that I am loving to read about all things garden related is Gardening Betty, she has given me some amazing ideas on using found items at home and ways to shop the local dollar store for items that I don’t have around the house.  I am most jealous of her amazing avocado tree, if only one would grow in Seattle.

Yay for Spring!