Exploring Nature through Miniature Gardens- By Sharon Brauer, Training Coordinator
Family & Childcare Resources recently did a class on having miniature gardens in childcare classrooms. It was so much fun and educational! The gardens turned out really great. Here are a couple examples of what your garden could look like.
“Most young children are curious about and fascinated by the natural world around them. To learn to understand their surroundings, they use their senses – hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch. They need many safe hands-on opportunities to explore and experiment within the natural world. (All About the ECERS-R, pp.253)”. Having miniature gardens in a childcare classroom could meet some of the Environmental Rating Scales criteria as well as being a beautiful addition to a room. Here are some of the reasons why.
There are 4 categories under the Nature/Science section of ECERS-R: Collections of natural objects, Living things, Nature/science books, games, or toys, and Nature/science activities.
Collections of natural objects – having the children collect items such as rocks, sticks, acorn caps, dirt, etc. to add to your classroom garden meets this section.
Living things – having your classroom garden accessible at all times to the children and having the children care for the plants in your garden with discussions around it meets this section.
Nature/science books, games, or toys – if you have realistic looking animals/figurines as part of your garden that will meet this. Also adding a book with real pictures talking about gardens and/or the growth of plants will be good as well.
Nature/science activities – if you have magnifying glasses next to your garden so that the children can look closely at all the items in the garden that is an excellent activity. Also, if you have a small pond in your garden you can have tiny boats to let the children experiment with the concept of sinking and floating.