This is such a fun time of year to learn all about gardening and planting. There are so many great learning opportunities for this topic, and I especially love that there is a huge dose of sensory exploration involved. We recently had lots of fun with this mini sensory garden play activity using the Learning Resources New Sprouts® Grow It! set.
Putting the Garden Together
I wanted to keep the setup simple as I knew my preschooler would be more than happy just exploring the fun Grow It! set along with the sensory base. I chose to use play dirt as the sensory base, but anything like soil, beans, rice, or even just crinkle paper would be fun to explore. I placed the play dirt in a tray and spread it out evenly. I also added a few bug-themed mini erasers to the play dirt to add a different element to the play. The garden set comes with a watering can, shovel, three pots, two flowers, and two veggies. This might not seem like lots, but I think the simplicity is what makes this such a great set. I was amazed at how long it entertained my four-year-old!
Let’s Get Planting!
My little one was excited when she saw this setup. She went straight for the shovel and started digging. She loved that she could ‘plant’ the flowers and veggies in the pots, as well as planting them in the pay dirt. She also loved pretending to water them and watching them ‘grow.’ This process was great for her sensory confidence, as well as her fine motor skill development.
She spent quite a long time using the shovel to dig little holes in the dirt, plant a veggie or flower, and then add more dirt to keep it stable. There was a fair amount of problem-solving involved because the larger flowers didn’t always stay upright. It’s great to give children the opportunity to develop their solutions throughout their play; it encourages a sense of independence and resilience.
Going on a Bug Hunt
After all the flowers and veggies had been planted, ripped up, planted, ripped up, etc., many times, my preschooler finally noticed that there were tiny bugs in the dirt too. She gathered them all up in one of the pots and named the types she could see. We threw in a little numeracy work by grouping and counting them as well.
She then came up with the idea to bury the bugs in the dirt and go on a bug treasure hunt. This was great for her sensory exploration and fine motor skills. She carefully uncovered the bugs and gathered them into the pots. We took it in turns to hide the bugs and search for them. This led to lots of excitement and some fun conversations about directions (e.g., using words like left and right, above and below). Sensory bins are a great way to encourage vocabulary development in preschoolers naturally.
We can’t wait to use the Grow It! set with different sensory bases for more fun small world play. I think we might even try water next! Do your kids love gardening-themed sensory play too?