The Wendy House Allotment
In our lovely allotment we grow a mixture of summer and winter vegetables, herbs and have also developed a sensory area. The children really enjoy digging and planting and the allotment is a fantastic way to help the children develop a better understanding of how things grow, how seeds need to be cared for with watering and weeding and, of course, the best bit is when the children see the fruits of their labour and can actually eat the food they have helped to grow.
Why concentrate on growing, gardening and nature exploration in Early Years?
Providing gardening opportunities for babies and young children will enable them to connect with the living environment, something that not all children have access to often enough. Regular hands-on experiences with plants, animals and insects provide an essential part of learning and development as well as supporting children’s emotional and physical health and well-being.
Enabling children to get outdoors more and experience the natural world will support them to flourish in many ways and offer a wide range of experiences including:
Encouraging the exploration of different foods
Children who are involved in preparing the soil, growing seeds, planting seedlings, caring for fruit and vegetables will be more motivated to find out what food tastes like when it has been harvested. The children can then incorporate their harvest into cooking and tasting activities.
Providing a variety of ways to be physically active
Children will have the opportunity to dig, rake and plant as well as lots of lifting and carrying, pushing wheelbarrows and watering. These activities will not only help to develop their fine and gross motor skills but also offer physical activity for exercise too.
Improving their social skills
Children will be supported to take turns, share tools and resources and work as part of a team to achieve a greater goal together.
Using all of their five senses
Children can explore plants that stimulate all of the senses, discussing colour, shape, smell and texture.
Awareness of the world around them
Children will have opportunities to learn where their food comes from, what makes plants grow, the life cycles of plants and animals, understanding of seasons, the weather, wildlife and recycling.
Building self confidence
There can be a huge sense of achievement in gardening and the children can see what their hard work has produced.
Developing a sense of time
Some plants grow fairly quickly but they are not ready immediately. Being involved in growing lets children understand more about the necessity of waiting for some things, particularly with plants where they can see new growth each day and are rewarded with the harvest at the end.
All of the experiences above provide opportunities to support and extend children’s learning through the Early Years Foundation Stage.