Inside of the classroom, we have a big book about gardening titled "Flower Garden," by Eve Bunting. Many of the plants in this book were brought in for the Fireflies to plant, both in plant and seed form.
Children learn about the world through their senses: touch, sight, sound, taste, and smell. Creating safe, diverse, and developmentally-appropriate outdoor learning environments offers many benefits across curriculum and developmental areas. The key to creating positive experiences in outdoor learning environments lies not only in the physical environment but with the modeling and behavior of caregivers. We started this process by pulling weeds in preparation for planting and setting up the environment.
To enhance the Fireflies experience in the garden, we consider a variety of places for the Fireflies to walk and move. Much like the playground, there are paths and defined areas with different types of surfaces like sand, grass, rocks, and log discs, as well as a variety of inclines and steps.
When thinking about setting up our garden area to facilitate learning, we wanted to incorporate a variety of materials that would enhance their senses. We wanted to incorporate plants that have different textures, colors, smells, and tastes. What better interactive sensory experience is there than eating?! Edible plants are not only safe features in a garden, but can also be integrated into meals or snack time to broaden the experience.
When planting and digging, it is important that our garden area includes a sand or dirt "digging spot" that is a safe space for the Fireflies to freely dig. This area will help the Fireflies to distinguish the difference in safe places to dig and areas that have plants or flowers growing in them.