Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Fairy Gardeners- Introducing Gardening to Toddlers

The weather this past weekend was beyond fantastic here in Marietta. As we have begun preparing our yard for the vegetables we will plant in about two weeks, my oldest has been going around collecting things to create a new fairy garden. Last year, we attempted a small scale fairy garden, but the location caused it to fall victim to birds, dogs, and chipmunks. This time, I suggested we find something to put the fairy garden in and hide the garden on our front porch. 

We opted to re-purpose a water table that was ready to be recycled into our Fairy Garden. I handed each of the girls buckets and shovels, and we headed out to the woods to collect rocks, sand, and soil. When we returned, we lined the bottom of the table with rocks to provide drainage. Then using the sand, I carefully constructed a bulkhead to store water on one side creating a pond that will keep the garden hydrated. To make the bulkhead or rock wall, I carefully stacked the rocks using lots of sand to strengthen the structure. 

After we had the structure of our wall developed, we went out to gather gardening soil from some of our raise beds. I let the girls fill the water table with the garden soil, and then sent them out to dig up moss to use as grass. I did purchase a couple succulents from Ikea to use in the garden. These were the only items I purchased, and they cost about $15 total. 

Once we finished the basics, the fun began. Miss M constructed a tepee using Kabob sticks and scrap fabric. She also made a table and chairs using scrap wood, paint, and wine corks. For garden globes, we took metal thimbles and tamped the tops down to make a curved surface. Then, we glued marbles to the tops. Using scraps of yarn, I crocheted a small rug for the tepee and a hammock.

The best part of making the garden was certainly spending time with my girls. We talked about so many things, there was lots of giggling, and we discussed gardening. Making a fairy garden turned out to be a great way to introduce gardening to my toddler. She loved playing in the dirt, and she is much more interested in plants that might house fairies than any other plants in our yard. 

We also love reading books about gardening. I wanted to share some of our favorite books about gardens, many of which we read this past weekend. 

My favorite book to introduce the idea of a gardening to the youngest of readers is Who's in the Garden?  This book contains holes to insert a small hand puppet. What child doesn't like hand puppets? 
Who’s coming to see how my garden grows? Find out with this colorful large board book, which features peek-a-boo holes for storytime play. The Bunny Rabbit Finger Puppet is the perfect size for peeking through the holes as you read.

This gift set contains the large board book edition of Who’s in the Garden?and Bunny Rabbit Finger Puppet.

Ages 1 to 4 years
Written By: Phillis Gershator
Illustrated By: Jill McDonald

Beginner readers will love watching the gigantic turnip grow in the book The Gigantic Turnip. Even though this next book isn't a technical "gardening book," there is still so much about gardening to discuss. I love that the book comes with a CD. As a busy mom, sometimes I put CD's on for the kids to listen to books at bedtime if I am particularly tired. 

Find out what happens when the old woman, the old man, and all twenty-one animals on the farm try to harvest a rather large root vegetable. This well-loved Russian tale uses humor, counting and repetition to appeal to beginner readers. Book with CD editions include story read by Ellen Verenieks.

Awards: The Blue Ribbon Book, The Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books
ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Award Finalist
Books for Children, Mother Goose Award Winner
Children's Book Council NOT Just for Children Anymore! Winner
Ages 3 to 7 years
Written By: Aleksei Tolstoy
Illustrated By: Niamh Sharkey
Narrated By: Ellen Verenieks

This next book I absolutely adore. The illustrations capture the attention of my almost three-year-old, while the content keeps my oldest daughter entertained and intrigued. This book would make a great addition to any classroom wanting to introduce biology of growing plants to the youngest of scientists. 

What's This? Learn the basics of how plants grow in this springtime story. When a young girl plants a seed, she learns she must be patient to achieve results. She is rewarded by a beautiful sunflower, and brings her flower to school to share the seeds with her entire class. Includes notes about roots, shoots, flowers and seeds.

Ages: 3-7 years
Written and Illustrated by Caroline Mockford 

The next two books are special to me because it was indeed my grandfather who taught me how to garden. He was an agricultural agent and head of the 4-H. He always had us working in his garden. Oh, how I wish he were still alive so I could ask him so many questions I have about gardening. 

This beautifully told story follows Billy from early spring to late summer as he helps his grandpa on his vegetable patch. They dig the hard ground, sow rows of seeds, and keep them watered and safe from slugs. When harvest time arrives they can pick all the vegetables and fruit they have grown. Children will be drawn in by the poetry of the language and the warm illustrations, while also catching the excitement of watching things grow!
Ages 3 to 7 years
Written By: Stella Fry
Illustrated By: Sheila Moxley

Grandpa Green

Grandpa Green wasn't always a gardener. He was a farmboy and a kid with chickenpox and a soldier and, most of all, an artist. In this captivating new picture book, readers follow Grandpa Green's great-grandson into a garden he created, a fantastic world where memories are handed down in the fanciful shapes of topiary trees and imagination recreates things forgotten.

In his most enigmatic and beautiful work to date, Lane Smith explores aging, memory, and the bonds of family history and love; by turns touching and whimsical, it's a stunning picture book that parents and grandparents will be sharing with children for years to come.

Grandpa Green is a Publishers Weekly Best Children's Picture Books title for 2011.

One of School Library Journal's Best Picture Books of 2011.

  • Age Range: 5 - 9 years
  • Written and Illustrated By: Lane Smith

Then, there is The Carrot Seed. There is a reason this book has never been out of print. Your toddler will delight in the simplicity of this book, and you will enjoy the nostalgia. 

The Carrot Seed 60th Anniversary Edition

This book teaches the patience and technique of planting a seed and helping it grow. First published in 1945 and never out of print, this timeless combination of Ruth Krauss's simple text and Crockett Johnson's eloquent illustrations creates a triumphant and deeply satisfying story for readers of all ages.
When a little boy plants a carrot seed, everyone tells him it won't grow. But when you are very young, there are some things that you just know, and the little boy knows that one day a carrot will come up. So he waters his seed, and pulls the weeds, and he waits...
  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Written By: Ruth Krauss
  • Illustrated By: Crockett Johnson

It is almost as though no list would be complete without a book by Eric Carle. The Tiny Seed is a perfect metaphor for the power and magistracy of seeds. 

The Tiny Seed (The World of Eric Carle)

  • Eric Carle's classic story of the life cycle of a flower is told through the adventures of a tiny seed. With striking collage illustrations and simple, yet dramatic text young readers will cheer the seed's progress as it floats across the sky, nestles in the ground, and finally grows into a giant flower.

  • Age Range: 3 and up 
  • Written and Illustrated By: Eric Carle 

This book has become a modern classic. We don't own a copy of this one yet, but it is on our to-buy list. 

One boy's quest for a greener world... one garden at a time.

While out exploring one day, a little boy named Liam discovers a struggling garden and decides to take care of it. As time passes, the garden spreads throughout the dark, gray city, transforming it into a lush, green world. 

This is an enchanting tale with environmental themes and breathtaking illustrations that become more vibrant as the garden blooms. Red-headed Liam can also be spotted on every page, adding a clever seek-and-find element to this captivating picture book.

  • Age Range: 3 - 6 years
  • Written and Illustrated By: Peter Brown

FTC Required Disclosures:
**This post contains affiliate links to Amazon and Barefoot Books. If you purchase the books through these links, I receive a small portion of the payment, which I use to support this blog. Thanks for your support!   

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