Planting Seeds

Planting the seeds was probably Carter’s most anticipated activity of the month.  It turned out to be extra-special because he and his Daddy worked on it together.  In Carter’s own words, “I put them down in the dirt for a little dirt nap.”  The seed packets promise that in 7-10 days they’ll wake up as plants.  I can’t wait.  We’ve got Cilantro, Basil and 5 really cool varieties of Heirloom Tomatoes.  Combined with the Cilantro, we’ve got great salsa.  Combined with the Basil, we’ll have some yummy Italian dishes.

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Great Printable Resources – Plants

We’re rolling along through April learning about plants, seeds, growing and flowers.  It’s a lot of fun.  I found a lot of printable activities, some free some not, that go right along with our learning.  I don’t like to overwhelm our activity shelf with printables, but I’ve found that Carter is very interested in working through them when I rotate in a few at a time.

I hit the jackpot with this first resource: the Garden Preschool Pack from Homeschool Creations.  There were so many great activites included.  These are my favorite.

Pre-Writing cards for tracing.  There are some easy ones and some more difficult ones.  Laminate these first for repeat use.

Sequencing cards – How a Seed Grows

Memory game with rhyming words.  Hint: some of the pictures are tough.  Write them down for yourself and go over all the names of the pictures with your child before you play.

A nice, simple introduction to the parts of a plant in puzzle format.

Sorting flowers and vegetables.  I haven’t cut these apart yet.  My only gripe with these is that they are TINY, but hey – they’re free!

Practicing beginning sounds.  I used clothespins for Carter to clip on the cards.  He calls this the “Clips Game”.  Below is a video that I captured while he was cleaning the game up.  He explains how to play it in his own words.

The next three activities are from Montessori for Everyone.  Once again, I LOVE, LOVE their gorgeous, real photos.

Sorting, Plants and Food.  Once Carter got the hang of sorting into two groups, we talked about which food was made from which plant and he paired them up.

The Life Cycle of a Pumpkin.  We haven’t done this one yet (you can see it’s not cut apart), but we’ll work on putting them in order, then we’ll try matching the words to the pictures as well.

Matching – Whole and Half Fruits.  Carter had a lot of fun with this one!

These last 3 are from KidsSoup, a (very cheap) subscription site for activities grouped by theme.  These were both from the Plants Unit.

Flower mini-book.  This one is simple enough for Carter to read on his own and has some great information about the parts of flowers and how they grow.

Word Families Game.  There’s a picture in the center of each flower.  Put the leaves with its correct word family.

Cutting practice.  I made a couple copies of these.

The “mouth of concentration” says it all – this is not as easy as it looks for a 3 year-old.

Enjoy and thanks for your comments!

Books about Plants

Last month it took me nearly the entire month to gather and use the books that I needed.  This month, I got smart.  I’m not sure if your library has this feature, but where I live you can “Place a Hold” on a book that you want that may not be in or may be at another branch.  I’ve been using this for a while to get books that I want to read, but this is the first month I’ve used it for Carter’s books.

There are so many great books and authors on the list for this month and topic (descriptions not mine).  Enjoy!

The Enormous Potato by Aubrey Davis

Davis uses a potato instead of the traditional turnip in this retelling of a familiar folktale. When the eye of a potato grows into the biggest potato in the world, a farmer must call for reinforcements to pull the vegetable out of the ground. Help comes in the form of the farmer’s wife, daughter, dog, and cat, and finally a mouse, who adds just enough extra muscle to get the job done. The potato, when it finally appears, is huge, taking up most of a double-page spread and almost burying the folks who pulled it out. It’s big enough to feed all the people of the town, who completely devour it.

Flower Garden by Eve Bunting

A comforting, richly illustrated story about a birthday surprise. An urban African-American girl and her father buy plants, potting soil, and a window box at the supermarket, ride the bus to their apartment, and put together a colorful gift for the child’s mother. Rhyming verse carries the brief story, while wonderful, warm, full-color illustrations present scenes from novel angles, and depict a loving family with a sense of intimacy, sincerity, and joy.

Jack and the Beanstalk by Steven Kellogg

Kellogg has streamlined Joseph Jacobs’s version of the classic story, keeping much of its vigorous language. In the illustrations he has provided a story within a story. On the front endpapers, the ogre steals the gold, harp, and hen from pirates as a wizard floating by in a hot-air balloon watches; this has the effect of enlightening readers about some of the moral ambiguities of the story. The wizard is shown writing down the actual events that follow and provides Jack with the beans that set them all in motion. Kellogg’s riotous, swirling pen is perfect for the energy of the tale; this is not the neat, contained English countryside of some previous editions. The ogre is toothy, warty, and a rather putrid yellow-green. His wife breaks the mold as well; she is tall and slim, fond of lipstick, and adorned in a necklace of skeletal shrunken heads. Colored inks, watercolors and acrylics throughout are similar in palette to Kellogg’s recent work–lots of orange, yellow, and green–at times bordering on the garish. There are many humorous touches to delight children, who will also be happy to see Pinkerton accompanying the princess’s entourage. Jack himself is irresistible.

Jack’s Garden by Henry Cole

A great way to show how the parts of nature connect and grow together… Cole is an elementary-school science teacher, and his nature drawings in colored pencil on colored paper make for joyful learning, both precise and lovely.

*This free online resource is based on this book.  It contains a lot of great activities and story sequencing cards for you to print.

Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden by Edith Pattou

Mrs. Spitzer is a wise teacher who knows many things. She knows about gardens. She knows about children. She knows how similar they are. And how they will flourish if tended lovingly.

One Bean by Anne Rockwell

What do you get when you take one bean and add a handful of soil and a splash of water? With patience and a bit of sunshine you get a full-grown bean plant that makes beautiful flowers and grows a whole new crop of beans. Packed with facts and featuring activities kids can do themselves, this book is perfect for blossoming botanists and growing gardeners alike.

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

Mother and child plant bulbs in fall, order seeds from catalogs in winter, eagerly anticipate the first shoots of spring, select seedlings in summer, “and watch the rainbow grow,” reveling in the opulence of color. The power of this book lies in the glowing brilliance and bold abstraction of the double-page collages.

Seeds! Seeds! Seeds! by Nancy E Wallace

Buddy Bear gets a package from Grandpa that contains five bags of different activities with seeds. From them, he learns how seeds grow, plants some, glues down and labels some others in a collection, decorates a picture frame with beans, and feeds the birds. His collection grows through the week as he saves seeds from various foods that he eats. The artwork consists of cut-paper collages with shadowing and life-sized photos of real seeds that look as though they can be picked right off the pages.

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle

This picture book admirably conveys the miracle of a seed. Flower pods burst and dispatch their seeds on the wind; the air-borne seeds are subject to myriad disasters; and the ones that make it through the perils of the seasons to become mature flowering plants are still susceptible to being picked, trod upon and otherwise damaged. But nature allows for survivors, and so the tiny seed grows into a giant flower, releasing its seeds and continuing the cycle

Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens

Easily recognizable as a trickster tale, this features appealing, contemporary cousins of Brer Rabbit and Brer Bear. Here, Bear and Hare are involved in a gardening partnership, with industrious, clever Hare reaping all the vegetable profits. As usual, Stevens’ animal characters, bold and colorful, are delightful. Hare, decked out in a lively gardening shirt and surrounded by mischievous offspring, is the image of determination. It’s Bear, however, who wins the personality prize: he snoozes away each planting season squashed in his favorite chair, changing positions with each flip of the page. It’s all wonderful fun, and the book opens, fittingly, from top to bottom instead of from side to side, making it perfect for story-time sharing.