Whether you have a garden or a room for a few garden pots, you can spend time with your kids learning art, nutrition, math, science, and other topics during COVID-19 containment.
Here are some fun ideas, projects and resource guides suggested by local and national organizations.
North Bay Children’s Center
Novato’s daycare, the North Bay Children’s Center, features school gardens and nutrition classes at each of its 13 locations in Marin and Sonoma counties.
Teresa Fogolini, director of the school gardening program called Garden of Eatin ‘, shares easy gardening projects that parents can do with their children in the home garden. Projects focus on art and nutrition, but they can also help children learn math by counting seeds or understand the science of soil conditions and biology.
• Eat the Rainbow Project (adapted)
You will need construction paper (or similar), scissors, tape, old magazines, colored pens (or similar), fresh and frozen produce, and a blender.
Use paint, markers or crayons, or strips of colored paper to create rainbow bows on construction paper or cardboard.
Colors should be red, orange, yellow, green and blue / purple and large enough that clip art can be attached within the border of each color. The lowest center of the rainbow should be white.
Have the children cut pictures of healthy foods from magazines and tape them in the appropriate color of the rainbow. Explain how each food helps the body and why it is important to “eat the rainbow”.
Hang the rainbow in the kitchen to remind you of healthy eating.
Next, head to the kitchen to make this Eat the Rainbow smoothie.
Eat the rainbow smoothie
Combine 1 cup of each of the following frozen fruits that represent each color of the food rainbow: cherries, mango, pineapple and blueberries.
Add 1 cup each of fresh spinach, avocado and banana.
Substitute favorites from the same color family, if necessary, such as strawberries instead of cherries.
Blend until smooth. Enjoy.
Plant a salsa garden
Plant a salsa garden with your child by growing cilantro, green onion, and cherry tomato in any container that has drainage holes.
Teach children how to fertilize and water properly, and at harvest time let them put the ingredients in a bowl. Add freshly squeezed lemon, salt and pepper to complete the salsa.
You can find other fun and easy NBCC garden projects in their Sprig & Sprout newsletter under the Garden of Eatin ‘tab at nbcc.net.
Western Arts and Ecology Center
The Occidental Arts & Ecology Center (oaec.org) lush demonstration garden in Sonoma County has been teaching garden enthusiasts for decades, including many school garden teachers attending an intensive five-hour training session. days.
“Perhaps even more important than academics, a garden can be the best place to cultivate a sense of wonder, curiosity and to harmonize the power of silent observation,” explains Olivia Rathbone of OAEC.
She suggests these helpful online resources for lesson plans and gardening activities:
• OAEC’s online seed saving program, “Handful of Seeds,” at oaec.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/A-Handful-of-Seeds.pdf
• Bulletin of the school garden network (schoolgardens.org)
• LifeLab (lifelab.org)
• Edible schoolyard project (edibleschoolyard.org)
• KidsGardening (kidsgardening.org)
• The COVID-19 page of the National Gardening Association website (garden.org)
Send seeds, say hello
Help the kids stay in touch with their friends, cousins or grandparents during this lockdown by creating fun seed cards they can mail out with greetings from your family.
This three-step art project, adapted from the USDA-governed Paper and Packaging Board’s How Life Unfolds site (howlifeunfolds.com), celebrates seeds, gardening, recycling, and the fine arts of lettering and correspondence.
• The first step: Make paper pulp.
Tear or cut the cardboard and recycled paper into small pieces. If you have a shredder, use it for paper.
Place the torn cardboard and paper in a large bowl. Pour enough water into the bowl so that the cardboard is just covered.
Stir occasionally and let soak overnight. Stir again.
Pour the mixture into the blender. Blend on low speed for 10 seconds, slowly adding water, if necessary, to create a thick soup-like texture. Blend on high speed for 30 seconds or until cardboard is well mixed and no lumps are visible.
Return the mixture to the large bowl.
• Second step : Add the seeds and form the mixture.
Sprinkle the flower seeds over the mixture and mix them with a rubber spatula. Do not put the seeds in the blender – they must remain intact for them to grow. Spread the mixture out on waxed paper on a towel on a flat surface. Remove excess water by dabbing with a sponge.
Flatten the mixture with a spatula or your hands, then place a small amount directly on the towel.
Shape with your fingers or a cookie cutter. If you are using a cookie cutter, spread the pulp around the edges with your fingers. Press down firmly on the shaped pulp with a sponge to absorb more water. Repeat to make as many shapes as you want.
Let the shapes dry completely by turning them over several times. Make sure both sides are dry.
• Third step: Attach to the card.
Glue on blank cards, being careful to dab glue on a few spots only so as not to smother the seeds, and decorate with ribbon if you wish. Add a greeting and instructions for planting the seed card, then sign the card and mail it.
PJ Bremier writes about home, garden, design and entertainment topics every Saturday and also on his blog at DesignSwirl.co. She can be contacted at PO Box 412, Kentfield 94914, or at [email protected]