Gardening is a fun hands on activity that gets kids outdoors and offers a great opportunity to teach measurements, addition, and other mathematical principles. “According to national research, garden-based learning delivers,” writes Maaike Baker in Civil Eats. “REAL School Gardens, a nonprofit organization that trains teachers and creates garden learning environments for schools across the country, has seen a 12 to 15 percent increase in standardized test score pass rates in their schools. In addition, 94 percent of teachers reported an increase in student engagement in the garden and in the classroom.” That is an immense leap in proficiency (and a great introduction to healthy eating, too!)
Here’s how to get started:
Shapes and sizes.
Different plots will require unique arrangements and planning to fit everything, which presents a great opportunity to introduce new geometric shapes to your little ones.
Light, height, and angles.
An important consideration when laying out your garden is how much each plant likes the sun. Some plants thrive in full sunlight, whereas others will wilt and die in the summer heat. Have your little ones help you determine where the sun is coming from and plan which plants go where using height and angles.
Keeping track of growth.
Measuring growth progress is one of the more fun elements in tending a garden. How long are your bean sprouts? Who grew the biggest zucchini?
Counting your harvest.
Fill that basket up with treats and use them to count out with the kids.
Collecting up water.
Leave a vase or jar outside to collect up rainwater. Use your rain gauge to introduce everything from counting to basic fluid measurements.
A lot of kids are visual learners. Using graphs to track of weekly growth, harvest, and rainwater is fun and a great way to introduce the basics to little ones.
Hide and seek sticks.
Not every garden learning opportunity comes straight from mother nature. You can use the garden as a setting for different games, such as hide and seek sticks. To play this game, write up numbers on popsicle sticks and push them into the soil, hiding the number underground. Each kid collects up sticks and counts how many points they got.
Have your little one use their newfound math skills to help put together a picnic lunch, which you can eat surrounded by your flowers and veggies in the garden itself.