I just loved reading today’s story, “Tiny Gardeners,” because it reminded me of my own daughter who is in kindergarten and attends a (mostly) outdoor Waldorf school. In the spring and fall, her teacher asks parents to bring in bulbs so that the children can plant them all around their play yard. Gardening with kids sounds like fun and chaos all at the same time!
The first year I went all out. I got giant alliums, and the most whimsical bulbs I could think of to make their blossoming play yard even more magical. This year, I realized I perhaps went a bit too overboard, because she mentioned that “tulips and daffodils would be best.” Whoops! I just love to picture all these tiny gardeners with their shovels and bulb planters digging into the dirt and awaiting new blooms in the spring (or the following spring, even!).
In related news, today’s piece by Amanda Spino is a recollection of trying to plant tiny seeds in the library with a class full of rowdy, silly, and aloof small children, and it made me giggle. It also made me glad we have such lovely teachers with the patience to teach our children the art of gardening, and about patience itself! Keep reading for the full story, which is cute and so relatable if you’ve ever tried to garden with little ones, especially a group of them!
Discover More Stories of Gardening with Kids
This story comes from our archive spanning over 30 years, and includes more than 130 magazine issues of GreenPrints. Pieces like these that inject the joy of gardening with kids into everyday life lessons always brighten up my day, and I hope it does for you as well. Enjoy!
What’s really sprouting in the library program room.
By Amanda Spino
With an armful of potting soil, packaged seeds, and last month’s newspapers, I prepare for a day of work. No, I’m not a professional gardener or a horticulturalist. I am a public librarian and I have a roomful of eager children waiting for me.
The theme of today’s program, as you probably guessed, is gardening. Our first story, a rhythmic romp about planting seeds, inspires a chorus of enthusiastic voices.
“I was going to plant a seed once but instead, I ate it.”
“My mom planted flowers, but they got brown and died.”
“Can I use the bathroom?”
Once we finish the story, we sing a catchy song about seeds. Twenty tiny gardeners sing, “Plant the seed and pat, pat, pat it down. Water it and spin around.” They spin in circles until they’re dizzy, and dozens of invisible seeds fly through the air.
The next story is about a mischievous rabbit who gets chased around a certain farmer’s garden. Perhaps you’ve heard it before? The children are enraptured by the bunny-shaped puppet that hops up, down, and around the imaginary garden. One concerned child raises her hand, her bottom lip trembling.
“Does the bunny make it home to his mommy?”
I assure her that he does and, luckily, no tears are shed.
Finally, it’s the moment they have been waiting for. We approach the activity table and everyone stares wide-eyed at the treasures before them.
Each child takes a piece of newspaper. One fold, two folds, a tuck, and another fold. With a little practice (and some parental help), everyone soon has a functional if not aesthetically pleasing seedling pot. One child places it on her head like a tiny hat and the room erupts in laughter.
Next the children use their hands to scoop soil into the pots. They delight at permission to play with dirt in, of all places, the library. Soil lands on the table, on the floor, on the ceiling fan, and in hair. Some even makes it into the pots.
Each child then picks a seed. There are milky-white cucumber seeds, grainy parsley seeds, and cabbage seeds so small they fall through tiny fingers. The seeds are lovingly placed in their new homes and pat, pat, patted down, just like in the song.
We end the program with instructions on watering the seeds and finding a cozy spot at home where they can enjoy the sunshine. As the children leave the library, I smile at the insights they share.
“I think I can see my seed growing!”
“I’m glad the rabbit got home to his mommy.”
Next week’s program might be about outer space, or narwhals, or a trip to the zoo. But today, we are gardeners. And the library, a garden. ❖
By Amanda Spino, published originally in 2021-22, in GreenPrints Issue #128. Illustrated by Hannah England
Do you have a similar or related story about gardening with kids that you’d like to share? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear it!
I taught elementary school for 25 years. I love gardening, so I secured a grant for our whole third grade – 8 classrooms of around 25 kids in each room – to make classroom vegetable gardens for science. Lessons were taught on what seeds need to germinate, what seedlings need to grow strong and healthy, and the whole plant life cycle. They were inside gardens to offer up close and constant views of how things grow. We did the planting outside with seed trays, lots of veggie seeds, soil, and volunteers. Then, everything was brought inside. My little guys and I were beyond happy. I can’t say the same for my colleagues! The kids were such good gardeners and loved taking all the seedlings home once everything was at a size to survive outdoors. This was so much fun that I did it for many years with my students. My classroom was all southern exposure windows on one side, and they just happened to have a countertop of radiators under them. Talk about a greenhouse! Large quantities of seed trays were lined up on the counter and the custodians learned to ignore the mess. We were able to get green beans to germinate and poke through overnight and had zucchini and cukes using the shades’ pull-chains as trellises! We planted whatever the kids wanted, and they were always so excited to take their plants home – bags and bags of plants. The year we grew potatoes required a parent to bring the car. One year, I had a parent tell me that they had to find space in their yard to make a garden for everything that was brought home. They sarcastically thanked me but kept gardening for many years after that and we are still friends. I eventually went to a different school and didn’t have the countertop space or sun to do the gardens. We switched to butterflies! I hope many of my former students are still happy gardeners!