My goal for next Summer is to create a wonderful, natural outdoor play area for R. (You can see my inspiration board “Kidscape” here.) Part of that goal is to assign an area of the garden just for R so he can grow and nurture some plants from seedlings to flowers, vegetables or whatever else he chooses for his little garden. Gardening however, has always been a bit of a mystery to me. I’ve just never really figured it out. I love being IN the garden, I’ve just never understood how to GROW a garden. It’s been a bit of a dilemma for me because I absolutely know how much better it makes us feel to be outdoors and I know how much kids can learn by tending to a garden, but I’ve been at a loss as to how to provide R with these experiences.
Imagine my excitement then, when I saw that the lovely Cathy from Nurturestore (one of my favourite sites for kid’s activities) has written a book called The Garden Classroom – 52 kids gardening activities – art, craft, science, math, literacy and play. I’m full of inspiration after reading this book and the absolute best part? There are ideas that can be implement all year round, both indoors and outdoors, so we can get started right away. No need to wait for Spring! I was also inspired to read that even the smallest of gardens can be made into wonderful spaces for learning and play ~ Cathy’s own garden is just a small city space and yet she has created areas for play, relaxing and learning along with growing over thirty different varieties of fruit, vegetables and herbs. Cathy very kindly took the time to answer some questions that I asked her about The Garden Classroom.
What inspired you to write The Garden Classroom?
I’ve always used our garden as a classroom with my own children and the ones I looked after in my home day-care. I was always amazed at the positive way being outdoors influenced our day and how much learning was taking place as we played. In the last year I’ve started running a school gardening club at my daughters’ school and I’ve seen there how much the children have benefited from having outdoor, hands-on lessons, and how the physical space of the school has been transformed. So, I decided I wanted to share my ideas and encourage others to make more use of their outdoor space.
Do you need to be an experienced gardener to do the projects in this book?
Absolutely not. There lots of tips in the book about how to get started, and suggestions for good things to grow with children – ones that germinate and grow quickly, bring lots of sensory benefits and are great for attracting beneficial insects. And many of the projects are based on natural materials, or using the outdoor space, so you can enjoy them whether you have a large garden, a tiny plot like my own, a window box or even if you want to make use of local parks and forests. Many of the activities also work well in a classroom setting.
Your passion and talent for gardening is obvious from reading The Garden Classroom. How did your love of gardening develop?
My blog is called Nurturestore and I think I just have this need in me to grow and nurture things – whether it’s kids or plants! I can remember my parents giving me a little section of the garden to grow my own plants in when I was a child, and the village where I lived used to have an annual gardening show. There were children’s events as part of it and I once won a prize for making a miniature garden in a wooden box! But I really started gardening once I was married and my husband and I bought our first house together.
It must be so satisfying to grow your own produce. How do you manage to incorporate a vegetable garden, a play space, learning space and relaxation are into a small courtyard?
Eating food you have grown in your own garden is the best – children learn so much from it and I find they are much more likely to try new foods and eat healthily when they have a real relationship with their food. My garden is tiny, and on the edge of a city, but with a little planning it’s surprising just what you can work into the space. We’re not able to grow huge amounts of each food but we have lots of variety. If you visit my blog you can see a tour of the garden and see what we’ve managed to fit in.
Thank you Cathy!
What’s your favourite way to spend time in the garden? Are you a green thumb or an absolute novice like me? Let’s share in the comments.
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