Outdoorsy Montessori: Why to Plant Some Peas in Your Preschool Children's Garden


Here's a rationale for the importance of a children's garden and growing peas in it, Montessori-style.

Photo from Depositphotos
When you grow peas, then you get to eat peas. In this photo, you can easily see the fine motor development that happens when shelling peas! 

Not to mention the health benefits of eating peas!

From Dr. Montessori:

 "There must be provision for the child to have
  contact with nature, to understand and 
 appreciate the order, the harmony and the
 beauty in nature, so that the child may better
 understand and participate in the marvelous
 things which civilization creates." (The Secret
 of Childhood)


During my recent visit with my youngest grandchild, we spent lots of time in the family vegetable garden. The snow peas were producing abundantly and we had such fun searching through the leaves to discover the peas. (VISUAL DISCRIMINATION)

Okay, I love to snap the peas right off their stem and pop them straight into my mouth. My little toddler prefers to open up the pods and eat the tiny peas inside. Then, I remembered just how important it is to grow peas in the children's garden. He meticulously opened the pods and gently plucked each tiny pea and then popped it in his mouth. His little fingers worked really hard to extract each pea from the pod! (SMALL MOTOR DEVELOPMENT & CONCENTRATION)

Recently, my grandchild has moved to his new house and there isn't a vegetable garden there. However, my daughter has that on her to-do list and she asked me to help her create a child-friendly veggie garden for them. 

So, I asked Jules which veggies he wanted to plant in his new garden. This little guy has been in the vegetable garden since before he could walk and so he is quite familiar with what is growing and what he likes. (INVOLVING THE CHILDREN IN THE DESIGN DEVELOPS DECISION-MAKING ABILITIES)

He decided on:
~ Peas
~ Strawberries
~ Carrots
~ "Little" tomatoes
~ Lettuce

Here is the design I came up with. There is a small area just outside the kitchen of his new house, and the sun is perfect for a small garden just for a child!

During my years in the Montessori Preschool classroom, the Children's Garden was a most important component of the Outdoor Classroom and its "curriculum." My design for Jules' Garden was based on the gardens I've created in my Montessori classrooms over the years. 

Here is one of my favorites:


The secret to bringing cognitive development into the activities that happen in the Children's Garden is to prepare the activities for the children to actually do themselves. 

As a veteran Montessori teacher, I am always looking for the control of error in every activity that I develop for the children.

In the garden, it is important to give the children the tools they need and these tools need to be child-size.

When the children themselves create the garden, plant the garden and do all the maintenance in the garden, they not only take ownership, but more importantly, they gain a vast slate of cognitive skills that feed their independence.

And, everything about the garden is a sensory experience:
~ Smells of soil, the herbs, and the flowers
~ Visual loveliness of the colors, shapes, and design of leaves, fruit, and roots of the plants
~ Auditory sounds of the animals who visit the garden (birds, insects, squirrels...)
~ The feel of plants, soil, tools, and the fresh air
~ And, of course, the taste (!) of the harvest!

Placing stepping stones between the garden beds is a wonderful control of error, along with Large Motor Development & Body Coordination. 

Likewise, putting on and taking off garden shoes helps the child with dressing skills and also keeping order in the environment. (IMPORTANT PRACTICAL LIFE SKILLS LEADING TO INDEPENDENCE)

Marking the planting beds with string, helps the children with planting the seeds correctly. (This is another CONTROL OF ERROR.)

Labeling each row with seed markers helps the children identify the seedlings when they begin to sprout, as well as invite them to "read" the labels! (BOTANY & LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT)

Creating garden picture cards with numbers on the back of each, guide the child when harvesting from the garden. (CONTROL OF ERROR) This Activity offers the child more practice with an important PRE-MATH SKILL of associating NUMERAL TO QUANTITY (1:1 Correspondence) 

Then, we have so many wonderful garden activities that are very engaging for the child and serve the child's developmental needs.

You can connect the Children's Garden to just about every area of the Montessori Preschool Curriculum:
~ Practical Life
~ Grace & Courtesy
~ Self-care
~ Sensorial
~ Pre-math
~ Pre-language
~ Botany
~ Art
~ even...Zoology (gardens attract insects, birds, and squirrels! AND THE HEALTH BENEFITS FOR OUR OWN BODIES

 Check out the nutritional value of peas: Real Food For Life 

I have lots of blog articles about the Montessori Outdoor Classroom! CLICK HERE to see more.

And, you might also like these articles specifically about the Children's Garden: Outdoorsy Montessori- Children's Gardening

There are also several Outdoor Classroom/ Children's Gardening BOARDS at my PINTEREST SITE.

Thank you again for visiting my Blog today. I hope that you have gotten lots of inspiration for your Outdoor Classroom!

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