What you'll need:
Black Beans (enough to cover the surface of the bin & fill containers)
Shallow Bin with lid for easy storage (cupcake carrier pictured)
Plastic Toy Sand Shovel and Rake Tools
Set of 3-4 small flower pots
Gardening in an important part of our curriculum here at CMS. You may even receive the vegetables our children grow from time-to-time. As we jump into Spring, we wanted give a nod to our garden work with an easy DIY Montessori-inspired gardening activity that builds scooping skills and allows child-directed play as they build their own garden. Note: All of these items can be found at a local Dollar Store so that the entire box can be made for under $10 depending on what you already have at home.
Fill the bin with the black beans and remove packaging from your various items. Using a pair of needle-nose pliers or wire cutters, measure your flowers against the pots and trim to your preferred height. (Note: We chose to trim just below the joint that kept the flowers in a bunch.)
Introduce the activity at this stage to your child and let them explore the materials for a little while—touching, shoveling, and raking the beans, pots, and flowers to get familiar with how they move. (Children 3 and under should be supervised, as some items can be a choking hazard.)
Next ask your child to fill each of the pots with the beans. You can encourage them to count how many scoops it takes—or for advanced children who can count higher, maybe guess how many beans it will take to fill a pot.
Once the containers have been filled, have your child plant his or her garden by choosing a flower bunch and inserting it into the pot of beans. We chose to leave the identifying tags on so that children could read and learn the flower names. You can also talk about the colors of each flower and what time of year they grow.
This activity can easily be updated with new flowers or plants to help keep it fresh and interesting for your preschooler.
Weather permitting, take the activity outdoors to encourage outdoor play and reduce any mess made from spilling. If you have a garden or are planting new flowers, carry this activity over to a real-world application and let your toddler get messy in the dirt with you. They will love to help water and watch what they have planted grow.
What it teaches:
Introduction to Gardening through sensory-based play
Child Directed Exploration
Fine Motor Skills