Blogging has been such an exciting adventure for me (wow, can you believe I have been doing this for 6 years now!) and along the way I have made some wonderful online friends, including NurtureStore blogger and now author, Cathy James. Cathy has just released her first book – The Garden Classroom: Hands-On Activities in Math, Science, Literacy & Art.
The Garden Classroom is a fabulous resource for parents of teachers of children aged 4 to 8 years, with many of the activities easily adapted to include younger children as well. Following a comprehensive introduction to help you prepare for gardening with children, the book is divided into six main sections;
1. Let’s Grow! Garden Basics: this chapter includes recommendations for what to grow with children, as well as advice for planting, and a number of fun projects to try – everything from creating a range of quirky planters and plant markers to mixing a magical power potion to feed your plants as they grow.
2. Play & Imagination: This section invites the reader to see a garden’s potential as a playful, imaginative space. Cathy shares ten fun play ideas that are easy to create outdoors with your child – there are ideas for good old fashioned play such as building forts and hosting mud pie parties, a number of additional imaginative play ideas, and inspiration for extending the potential for sensory play and exploration outdoors.
3. Reading & Writing: This chapter includes ideas for both purposeful and playful engagement with literacy skills, including activities that promote reading, storytelling and writing. Ideas shared include a chalkboard observation station, sensory word hunting, story stones, stick spelling, and more. The book also includes a Gardening Journal to use with your children as a record of their experiences outdoors. It is available both within the pages of the book and as a PDF over at the NurtureStore blog (scroll down the page for the download lin).
4. Science & Math: There is no denying the benefits of practical, hands-on learning for children and the garden provides the perfect platform for making science and math learning come alive. In this section Cathy shares ideas for encouraging observation and investigation, both essential skills for science and maths, as well as specific projects suitable for scientific experimentation and some fun game ideas for developing math skills such as counting and measurement.
5. Arts & Crafts: The fifth chapter includes seventeen creative projects that either take inspiration from nature, or that use elements of nature from the garden as art materials. I can’t wait to try finger knitting flowers with Immy and love the idea of creating our own cement tile mosaic art and mixed media bouquets.
6. Garden Recipes: The final section includes a handy list of edible flowers, suggestions for using herbs from your garden and three simple recipes to prepare with children following the harvest of your garden classroom.
For those who would like to see more, here is a sneak peek inside the pages of The Garden Classroom:
Author: Cathy James
Publisher: Roost Books (2015)
Recommended for: Parents & teachers of children aged 4 to 8 years