Since summer is here, I decided to introduce little Miss Gwen (13 months) to the concept of gardening.
We've recently brought her to flower farms and parks where she has picked flowers, frolicked in the grass and dug up soil, so this is a good time to reinforce the learning that plants and vegetables grow from beneath the ground.
I used existing toys and household items to make a simple
Vegetable Garden Sensory Bin for Toddlers!
How to Set Up a Vegetable Garden Sensory Bin for Toddlers
Gather these items:
- A shallow bin or pail
- Pretend soil (You can use black or brown rice and even red beans if your child has passed the oral exploratory stage. Else, flaxseed ground or blended graham crackers would make perfect edible soil. I used black glutinous rice!)
- Vegetable toys (Pick the ones that grow in soil - Carrots, garlics, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers etc) or Real vegetables before cooking them* (Leave part of the stalks on and shorten the stems)
- (Optional) Gardening tools like a shovel, sieve, bucket etc
- A book about gardening, farming or vegetables
How Gwen Played
Gwen was excited to put both hands into the tub of pretend soil to feel its texture. She ran her fingers through it again and again and scattered the pretend soil all around. It's evident that she really enjoys sensory play now!
If you remember she used to be apprehensive about touching foreign materials in the past. Gone are those days! Now she's putting her fingers into everything. What a wonderful progression!
She pulled out the vegetables and I stuck them back. We repeated this until she got bored of it. As she yanked the carrot out, I sang her the 拔萝卜 nursery song.
Repeat song with different stuffed toys in the house.
Gwen enjoyed imitating my carrot tugging motion and she kept rocking her body back and forth in laughter.
Learning for Older Kids
You can use this opportunity to have a conversation with older children about:
- How seeds grow into plants
- All the types of vegetables that grow in the garden
- All the bugs and critters that can be found in soil
- Whether the garden insects are helpful or harmful to the plant growth
There's so much to learn about gardening! When you feel it's time to move on to the real stuff, start a little garden with your child so she can take pride in putting food onto the table straight from the garden!
Knowing where the vegetables come from also encourages young children to like eating vegetables.
At 14.5 months I repeated this activity with Gwen as I bought a bunch of colourful organic carrots and I thought it'll be nice for Gwen to feel and know how real carrots looked!
The sensory garden was so, so, so much more realistic-looking with real carrots as compared to toy ones!
The best part is after this sensory activity, I simply washed the flaxseed edible sand off the carrots and cooked them for Gwen's meals. No wastage!
I hope this is a fun learning activity for your little one! Share your experience with me at miraculove_sg (Instagram Direct Message) or join my exclusive Facebook group to exchange more play ideas!
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Hi! I am Yunnie. I am the newly minted mama to a little baby girl and a mum friend to everyone on this special (and many times scary) journey of motherhood. Also a graduated bride with a penchant for weddings.