Caring for outdoor plants
Collecting and raking leaves
Planting a small plant
Collecting litter with a picker-upper
Watering potted plants
Feeding birds at a bird table
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Using a small wheelbarrow
The school should have an outdoor space to observe the seasons, to grow shrubs, flowing plants and grasses with a variety of leaves. Small garden plots which the children can reach should be made so that they can cultivate them. Children can prepare the soil, removing rocks, weeds and roots, can mix in organic manure, can rake it smooth. Those children who are interested can be asked to discuss what they would like to plant and need to be told how far apart and how deep plants should be placed. Children can receive demonstrations on how to dig holes and insert the plant, taking great care over it’s roots, how to compact the soil and take care of them by weeding, watering and checking them for growth, fruiting or flowering bodies and disease.
Children can plant seeds in cups and take care for them individually or take turns in caring for communal areas of the garden. They will need to be shown how to locate, use and care for garden tools, they could be kept in an outdoor shed, outdoor aprons will need to be kept handy and for some activities children should bring special clothes and boots from home. They will need close supervision as they will need to have care for living beings shown as an indirect presentation. Herb gardens grow quickly and can be used for Sensorial Exercises to refine olfactory and gastatory senses, smelling the plants in situ, tasting leaves grown, under supervision, and identifying the plants. Children cold later try to lea each other with blindfolds to various plants to absorb the garden through their acoustic, tactile, olfactory and stereognostic sensations
To link children with the outdoor environment introduce wildlife experiences for the children
- To observe clouds, flowers, butterflies, spider webs, insects, tree barks, rocks, pine cones and leaves
- To listen to the wind, noises from the street, bird calls
- Look for evidence left by animals, footprints, droppings, that the food has been taken from a bird-feeder
- Collect samples and specimens for the Nature Corner in the living room
- Organise nature walks and picnics, with parents to collect more specimens, be in silence and experience moving and being still in nature. Study the objects back in the Children’s House
Caring for Outdoor Plants
A pair of child size secateurs on a tray, a basket lined with newspaper, a healthy plant that can be reached from a path, a well maintained compost heap.
- Put on outdoor aprons and take the tray and basket, one at time, putting them on the path by the plant
- Undo the lock on the secateurs and replace on the tray
- Ask the child the name of the materials
- Sit on haunches and inspect the plant carefully – looking especially for dead flower heads and leaves which have curled or show spots. Indicate these to the child as well as healthy flower head and leaves so that she can see the difference
- When a dead flower is spotted hold the dead flower with the left hand
- With the right pick up the secateurs holding both handles lightly
- Put the cutting edges of the secateurs at the point where the stem meets the next lowest branch down from the dead flower and cut
- Place the dead flower head in the basket lined with newspaper
- In the same way cut off leaves which have curled or have spots
- Replace he secateurs
- Stand up a little so knees are bent and inspect the plant again fro dead flowers and curled, spotted leaves.
- Remove them as before
- Stand fully and look at the top of the plant and to both sides of it, removing dead flowers and leaves
- Ask the following questions;
‘Have I seen any insects?’ and ‘Are there lots or only a few flowers blooming?’
this develops the child’s awareness and is later used to prompt other activities
- Replace the secateurs on the tray
- Take the basket to the compost bin, putting it on the floor open the compost bin
- Fold the newspaper around the cut flower heads and leaves and place it into the bin
- Close the compost bin
- Replace the newspaper with a fresh piece
- Put away the tray with secateurs and the basket
- Remove the outdoor apron and hang it up
Points of Interest:
- Stay standing on the path, not the soil
- Hold the flower or leaf to be cut gently, otherwise when cut the branch will spring back
- Tell the child the names of insects spotted
- Co-ordination of Movement
- Social Adaptation
Age at Presentation:
- When the child is familiar with this activity the questions can be the stimulus for other activities; if greenfly have been spotted the child ca remove them, if there are many flowers the child can cut them for use indoors in the flower arranging activity.
- For greenfly take a spray bottle and add 2 drops of washing up liquid with a pipette (a spray bottle, pipette and small container of detergent can be stored with the tray and basket above) add some water so that the spray bottle is half full and spray the leaves with greenfly twice.
- If lots of flowers are in bloom a second basket can be sought and the flowers cut leaving the stems as long as possible from different places on the plant (so that the plant retains an even spread of flowers) select some flowers which are fully open and some still budding, do not choose those which are starting to fade. After putting away other materials take the flower basket inside and quickly put the flowers into a vase with water and either continue arranging them or leave them in a space where others know they can use them