Happy Groundhog Day!
Some traditions are odd. If today is a sunny day, then the groundhog will see its shadow and there will be six more weeks of winter. If it is cloudy, then no shadow and spring is on its way.
Wonder why anyone thought the clearness of the sky on February 2nd can predict the coming of spring?
While I don’t know the answer to that, I do know that many of us feel a spark of joy when the groundhog predicts an early spring.
In the cold of February, think spring
Now is a great time to start planning for spring gardening, even if you don’t have a garden.
There are lots of garden-related sensory activities that can be encouraged, even in this winter month.
First, introduce the topic of plants. For example, make veggies interesting:
- Go online and look at the variety of vegetables. There are cool facts about our common veggies and there are some amazing and unusual veggies.
- Group veggies by which part is edible. Interestingly, different parts of the world eat different parts of the veggie. I once read that Canadians each the turnip root and toss the leaves. The Southern States eat the leaves and toss the root.
- When at a grocery store with your child, feel and smell some of the veggies and talk about which ones get peeled and which ones don’t, the type of seeds they have, where they are grown, which ones can be grown here, some of the ways they can be cooked, and which ones are related to other ones (zucchini and squash are related, even though they don’t look similar).
- Buy one or two that the child chooses and have the child help prepare the veggie. Try cutting it in different shapes or shredding it. Do the different shapes change the flavour? Try eating it raw and cooked. Try it with salt or with butter. Here are some works of art from some very talented people who have cut their veggies in ways that would make it a shame to eat them.
Getting back to our spring theme, tomato and pepper seeds can be started now in containers and then the containers moved outside as the weather warms.
Many other veggies can be started later in the spring.
Spend time picking out the seeds to be planted directly in the garden.
Visit a garden centre and wander through the plants. Now is a quiet and calm time to go.
Plants are somewhat forgiving and can be touched. Choose a variety of leaves and feel the differences.
Plants can be smelled. Check out the herbs for stronger smells.
Buy your own touch garden (plants that have a variety of textures) or scent garden (herbs). Ask if the variety of plants can be put in a single container. If they can, ask for care instructions and give the child ownership of the plants.
And if flowers are your first love when it comes to plants, there is a huge opportunity to seed indoors.
There are so many sense-ible ways to use plants as a teaching tool.
Have you used plants as a tool for teaching or calming? Was it successful? Please share with us below if you have found any interesting ways to engage our senses using plants.