Challenge 21 – To grow something from seed.

Your challenge this week: is to grow something from seed. This challenge can be as simple or complicated as you have the time or resources to make it. Ultimately, its an opportunity for you to spend an hour or two outdoors with your children, doing some gardening and trying your hands at growing something, flowers, veg, whatever you fancy, from seed.

This challenge encourages the following values:
Responsibility, Gratitude, Generosity, Resourcefulness, Resilience, Optimism, Patience, Commitment.

What you need to complete your challenge this week:

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  • Some compost or soil
  • Pots or a tray
  • Seeds

If all else fails…
Get out in the garden or look out the window, notice and appreciate what is already growing out there and talk about it with your children.

Food for thought for the grown-ups:

Being out in the fresh air is always a good option when it comes to children. It’s important regardless of the weather really but understandably when it comes to a fun actitivy it’s always going to be more pleasant if the sun is out. Technology features so regularly in their lives these days that breaks outdoors are always going to be positive for them physically and emotionally.

Given the beautiful weather (today) and the weeks of confinement stretching ahead of us into the summer I decided to throw in a challenge that will get you out, give you a good dose of vitamin C, is relatively cheap, (especially if you have a garden with a bit of soil in it) and will make your garden all the better to look at come summer. Not to mention supply you with some of your own home grown fresh produce!

For the last few months I’ve been collecting seed packets from the front of magazines and squirrelling them away. Then, last week, my youngest was given two sunflower seeds to grow as part of a Beavers project so iy prompted me to get myself organised so that we could do some gardening together. Then, in one of my rash moments this week I added to my ‘seed collection’ by buying some veg seeds online for pennies so we are definiety all ready to go now.

With our seeds at the ready and the sun shining (and on a Sunday too) it seemed as though the stars had aligned.

I understand you may not be able to do this immediately if you don’t have any seeds but i urge you to do some research and order some, they really are very cheap and if they are delivered you don’t even have to leave the house – which was a bonus for us because Boris says we aren’t allowed to at the moment.

I use Thompson and Morgan but there are loads of sites out there that sell seeds.

It doesn’t matter what you grow really, its the process more than the end result that counts… although there really is nothing better than picking a tomato or a strawberry straight off a plant – which you grew – and eating it.

And for the children:

Growing plants from seed with your children is a lovely and simple activity which most can do at any age or any ability. It also provides lots of opportunity to talk.

Yet more benefits include…

1. Knowledge. Planting and growing seeds introduces children to life cycles and learning about where food comes from. It provides an excellent introduction into how things grow, what plants need to grow and the environment. Planting seeds requires patience, optimism and commitment and when things don’t work out it teaches resilience.

2 It’s sensory. Gardening stimulates all the senses. Sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. It ticks all the boxes. Playing with water in a can or a hose can keep children entertained for ages, plus it gets the watering done. Feeling the soil and touching leaves aids understanding about how plants are made up, the stages of growth and problem solving when things go wrong. Wilting and dry soil? – the plant needs water. Finally smelling and tasting the grown fruit and vegetables is definitely a highlight and hugely rewarding.

3. Encourages motor skills. Gardening is a very hands on activity. When it comes to the actually planting the seeds its tricky enough for us to pick up a tiny seeds from the palm of our hand to drop into a pot let for alone little ones. Its a great fine motor skill to practice. Watering with a watering can, digging soil out of the compost bag with a trowel and placing it in a pot are both activities that require good co-ordination. Luckily because all this is out in the garden the mess and spillages aren’t too much of a problem.

4. Supports literacy skills. Depending on the ages of your children this can add another element of learning without it seeming like a chore. Ask your child what the plant on the front of the packet is called. Ask them to write the name of what they have planted on a stick or a stone to label the seed pot or tray. Ask them to read the label, when does the seed need to be planted, potted and planted out? When will it fruit or flower? Does it need sun or shade? As actitivies go, planting seeds provides lots of opportunities for reading and writing.

5. Aids cognitive and language development. Gardening in general provides lots of communication opportunities. Ask them about what job they want to do or what they want to do next, how are they going to do it? What equipment do they need? If they are older you can discuss what seeds actually are, how do they grow? why do different seeds need different environments? What will help the seeds to germinate? Lots of open ended questions will allow them to explore their thoughts and ideas.

If I can offer any advice ahead of your little gardening play date then its this. Plan, prepare your tools and equipment and take a cup of tea and some biscuits out with you. Oh and try to leave your cleaning and tidying urges in the house. Let them make mess.

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So go for it,
Plan ahead, prepare the area with everything you need and get your hands dirty. And if you get the opportunity, try to take a minute in the middle of it all to shut your eyes and really enjoy the moment.

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