Updated: Jun 6, 2021
A Companion Guide to Busy Toddler's Playing Preschool Curriculum
This post contains affiliate links for which I receive a small commission. Proceeds go to support this blog and my mission of inspiring moms of babies and toddlers to find quiet moments in the chaos to read with their children.
Planting a Seed
Seeds are the ultimate metaphor for raising children. They start out so tiny and helpless, but with time, nurturing and lots of loving care, they can grow and thrive. Planting seeds is what I strive to do in my parenting when it comes to instilling a love of reading, a passion for learning and trust in Jesus. With the right environment and maintenance, our children will (hopefully) bear the fruit of our family values. This unit allowed us to see that metaphor lived out.
Growth Mindset Meets Hands-on Learning
We decided to take on an extra challenge with this unit and start our own raised bed garden. I am not much of a green thumb and had no idea what I was doing so my toddler and I were learning together, which made it truly authentic. At the time of this writing, we are eight weeks into our growth mindset project and I am actually surprised how easy it has been. We started almost everything from seed when we began this unit; we currently have lots of stuff growing and nothing has died! In addition, it has provided us with meaningful work and lots to talk about while we wait for our first harvest. I am working on a post documenting our experience, but in the meantime, you can check out our weekly updates on my Instagram account.
Building Background Knowledge
If your child is not familiar with the nursery rhyme "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary" you might want to watch this video of the song before reading Lola Plants a Garden as it makes allusion to the rhyme. Like many nursery rhymes, it has historical and cultural significance, but not appropriate for children, so feel free to Google at your leisure.
*Books with an asterisk are my Top 5 Picks to Add to Your Home Library for this uni
How a Seed Grows - Jordan, Helene J. (diverse characters)
Lola Plants a Garden - McQuinn, Anna (diverse characters)
If You Plant a Seed* - Nelson, Kadir (promotes kindess)
The Tiny Seed* - Carle, Eric
Plants Feed Me - Rockwell, Lizzie (diverse characters)
Who Will Plant a Tree? - Pallotta, Jerry
Additional Book List
Books in bold are also suggested books in another unit.
National Geographic: Seed to Plant - Rattini, Kristen Baird
From Seed to Plant - Gibbons, Gail
A Seed is Sleepy* - Aston, Dianna
It Starts with a Seed - Knowles, Laura
In a Garden - McCanna, Tim
Planting a Rainbow - Elhert, Lois
Growing Vegetable Soup - Elhert, Lois
Eating the Alphabet - Elhert, Lois
Lois Elhert’s Growing Garden Gift Set - Elhert, Lois
Let’s Grow Vegetables! (Interactive Book) - Baumann, Anna-Sophie
Plant the Tiny Seed (Interactive Book) - Matheson, Christie
The Vegetables We Eat - Gibbons, Gail
Oh Say Can You Seed? All About Flowering Plants (Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library) - Worth, Bonnie
Secrets of the Vegetable Garden (A Shine-a-Light Book) - Brown, Carron and Giordano, Poloni
A Fruit is a Suitcase for Seeds - Richards, Jean
Seeds - Lemniscates, Carme
Usborne Gardening for Beginners - Wheatley, Abigail
Raised Bed Gardening for Beginners - Wylie, Tammy
Square Foot Gardening with Kids: Learn Together - Gardening Basics - Bartholomew, Mel
Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt* - Messner, Kate
The Bad Seed - Jory, John and Oswald, Pete (promotes growth mindset)
The Tale of Peter Rabbit* - Potter, Beatrix
The Night Gardener - The Fan Brothers
The Curious Garden - Brown, Peter
The Digger and the Flower - Keufler, Joseph
The Dandelion Seed - Anthony, Joseph P.
Miss Maple's Seeds - Wheeler, Eliza
The Carrot Seed - Krauss, Ruth
Grow Kind - Lasser, PhD., Jon (promotes kindness)
We Are the Gardeners - Gaines, Joanna and Kids (promotes growth mindset)
The Giving Tree - Silverstein, Shel
Worm Weather - Taft, Jean
Counting in the Garden - Parker, Kim
When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree - Deenihan, Jamie L.B. (diverse characters)
My Garden - Henkes, Kevin
Pete the Cat and the Cool Caterpillar - Dean, James
The Honeybee - Hall, Kirsten (a wonder in onomatopoeia)
Educational Games and Toys
Developing Life Skills: Grow a garden! Use whatever space you have: a backyard, a rooftop, a butterfly garden, a container garden or a windowsill herb garden. Watching something grow slowly, day by day develops patience and caring for another living thing develops empathy.
Field Trip: Visit a botanical garden or nursery. Most of them host community events geared toward children where they can learn about and take home a flower or vegetable or decorate a planter. Or take a trip to the farmer's market to check out all the fresh produce.
Read Along Play Along Activity: Choose a vegetable or fruit that is in season and pair it with a book and trip to a U-pick farm. We happened to hit it just right for strawberry season so we read The Little Mouse, the Red, Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear. In the summer you could go blueberry or blackberry picking and pair it with Jamberry. Or in the fall pick apples or pumpkins and read along with Apples and Pumpkins.
Sensory Bin: Set up a garden sensory bin using potting soil or dried bean. Throw in some kid-sized gardening tools and your play vegetables or fake flowers and let them dig, plant and harvest. For an extra challenge, throw in some Easter basket "grass" and let them pull the weeds.
Water Play: Set up Busy Toddler's Pouring Station but this time include a watering can.
STEM Activity: Nuttin But Preschool’s How Water Travels Through Roots
Easy Craft: Paper Flower Plates from Little Ones Learn
Number Practice: Plant a Number Line Math Game from 123homeschool4me
Gross Motor Skills: Flower Hop Color Game from LearnPlayImagine (we did a similar version with shapes)
Art Activity: Handprint Garden Fuits and Vegetables from Sandbox Academy
We extended this unit by starting a raised bed garden in our backyard and it is still growing strong. Before we planted anything, someone recommended we look into using the square foot gardening method to make the best use of our space. If you are considering starting your own garden, I would encourage you to do so. It may look like a lot of work, but we spent a weekend and less than $100 (my birthday present) building two beds (and could have done it for less without the rocks and border). Currently, I spend about five minutes a day watering and doing some minimal weeding and maybe 15-20 minutes a week fertilizing or planting. If nothing else, it gets us outside for some fresh air while we check on our garden.
What was your favorite part of this unit? What other books did you read? What other activities did you do? Please share your photos and feedback in the Playing Preschool with Busy Toddler Curriculum Facebook Group in Units → Plants
Until next time, may your coffee be warm and your toddler be busy!
Up Next: Playing Preschool: Unit 15 - Construction
See Also: Introduction to Playing Preschool with Busy Toddler, A Companion Guide to Busy Toddler's Playing Preschool Curriculum, Unit 1: Apples, Unit 2: Colors, Unit 3: Nursery Rhymes, Unit 4: Clothing, Unit 5: Food, Unit 6: Five Senses, Unit 7: Teddy Bears, Unit 8: Things That Go Together, Unit 9: Community Helpers, Unit 10: Transportation, Unit 11: On the Farm, Unit 12: Weather, Unit 13: Eggs