Over the past eight months Seed Harvest Spoon have been building knowledge alongside the children and educators at the 26 Sydney wide Only About Children campuses.
The children are learning how they can contribute to caring for our earth by waste sorting to reduce what goes to landfill, recycling food scraps to create healthy soil, turning off taps and mindful water play to conserve water.
Over the last two months the children have been learning about where their food comes by planting and growing a range of seasonal vegetables in their garden. Engagement with soil, plants and the outdoors contributes to the overall health and wellbeing of every child.
Outcome 1: Children have a strong sense of identity.
Sharing the experience of growing food with peers and educators encourages a sense of belonging and responsibility. Planting a seed is a careful cognitive process, especially when understanding how deep to plant a carrot seed compared to a bean seed. Dexterity skills are developed when carefully picking up the tiny carrot seed and sowing it in the soil. At the end of the lesson all 30 seed pots are lined up the children look for their name label with pride and enthusiasm.
Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world.
Using a magnifying glass children explore up close a diversity of creatures that live in the soil under their feet. They are excited to discover different creatures, but worms are always a favourite! No matter how many worms children find each new discovery is celebrated with more joy than the last. Adding compost or nutrient rich vermicast to the soil keeps our newly planted seedlings healthy. Especially when food scraps from our kitchen have helped to create the natural fertiliser. Compost and vermicast help our veggies grow strong and provide our body with nutrients and minerals when we eat them freshly picked.
Outcome 3: Children have a strong sense of wellbeing.
Our plants thrive and grow by absorbing sunshine, so do we. Time spent outdoors is beneficial to our emotional and physical wellbeing. Involvement in gardening generates a sense of purpose, where soil under our fingernails is a healthy sign of connection to nature! Handling a delicate seed or seedling provides us with a tactile connection to life. Harvesting the lettuce, carrots, spinach and bok choy we grow in our preschool garden is a tasty nutrient rich bowl of goodness for our growing body.
Outcome 4: Children are confident and involved learners.
Children love to learn, as Seed Harvest Spoon become a familiar face at the many campuses we visit, the children confidently and enthusiastically greet us by asking “What are we learning today?” When we ask the children what we spoke about last time we visited, they eagerly respond with soil, worms, water, rubbish, recycling, turning off taps and more. When planting a seedling children are learning about the process and technique. They engage in learning by digging a hole in the soil with a trowel, carefully placing the seedling in the hole without disturbing the roots, covering the roots with soil for protection, giving a little water and placing some mulch around the soil to conserve water. Vocabulary expands by using correct terminology in the garden. Early skills in science develop as we observe the germination of a carrot seed. Experimentation and inquiry evolve though questioning - What happens if I plant my seed too deep? What if I forget to water my seed?
Outcome 5: Children are effective communicators.
In the garden we learn and create context by sharing stories, children talk eagerly about their home garden. Child’s voice: “My Dad grows chillies in our garden, he loves them, but I don’t, they're too hot for me!” Using our imagination, body movement and storyboards helps us understand how a seed comes to life. We read a book with engaging images and rhyming words to finish off the lesson, its a fun way to reflect on what we have learnt. Labels help us to identify our individual seed pot and what we have planted, some of us are writing our own name and words, while others are great at spelling their name helping the teacher to write it for them. We read the seed packet and discover it may take 14 days of watering and waiting for our seed to germinate. Teachers use their iPad as a tool for taking photos and documenting learning that we can use to recount our experience later.
Children's seed pots lined up around garden bed ready to take home & below a carrot seed planted by a preschooler that has germinated.
Author: Michelle Carrick
Seed Harvest Spoon Co-Founder & Program Director
© 2016:Seed Harvest Spoon Education Foundation Ltd.
Commonwealth of Australia Department of Education, Employment & Workplace Relations (DEEWR) (2009). Belonging, being and becoming: Early years learning framework for Australia. Canberra: Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment & Workplace Relations.