There is a magical quality around seeds and how they transform and grow. The process of watching and participating in sowing seeds, tracking plant growth, and perhaps ultimately harvesting fruit and vegetables can leave important impressions on a child’s mind. Promoting this interest in children is critical for the future of environmental knowledge and care of the planet, and benefits extend to the individual child as well.
Looking for a Silver Lining and Finding a Green One Instead
Today’s reality doesn’t seem woven with any strands of metallic thread. However, after much contemplation, I realize that perhaps there isn’t a silver lining at all, but instead a green one. I have always gravitated towards the outdoors and nature settings, and I believe, particularly now, that nature can play an important role for everyone, whether nature oriented or not. Nature can reduce stress and provide a calming influence during these turbulent times.
The summer garden can be hot, scratchy, and very dry, but visiting the summer garden is like going on a special scavenger hunt! Whether you are peeking under big green leaves to spy a baby vegetable with the flower still attached, or finding an award winning gigantic one, the summer garden is ripe with discovery. Sandwiched in between the spring seed sowing and sprouting fun, and before the fall harvest, the summer garden is a perfect introduction to food literacy.
Sprouting Connections with Early and Eco Literacies
Nature learning activities and eco literacy experiences can be combined with early literacy techniques to enhance the stimulation of sensory skills and increase learning capabilities. This exciting combination of literacies can help encourage curiosity and observation skills, which can generate enthusiasm for the pursuit of knowledge and learning. Go on a scavenger hunt and sprout the awareness of nature discovery!
The experience of being in a garden is a wholly sensory one that engages all of the senses at once to produce a feeling of wonder and awe of the bounty provided by the natural world. Harvesting fresh fruit and vegetables from a garden, or any growing space, is an encounter that connects children and adults to their food in an irreplaceable way. There are many sensory observations to be had in natural settings that can peak a child's curiosity.
Dr. Arnone is a proponent of libraries helping to serve their communities with programming about their local environments. She has taught "Environmental Programming with Libraries" and "Literacy, Inquiry and Nature for Libraries" at Syracuse University's School of Information Studies. She is a certified environmental educator in the state of North Carolina.