If you’re exploring seeds, plants, and flowers with your preschoolers this spring, it’s always great to get out and discover some applications within that theme on a field trip! Field trips don’t have to be elaborate. Most often, I would say that knowing that the host can connect with your children and offer them hands-on opportunities at their level is worth far more than an extravagant locale. Finding everyday, familiar places and then exploring them in-depth, allows the children to make more connections with their previous knowledge, and helps them to reconnect that knowledge again as they visit in the future. Here are some field trip ideas within the garden theme.
Florists- Invite a florist to show your children some of the tricks of the trade. Children will be in awe of the tools that are used, the variety of flowers, and the arrangements that can be created. Ask the florist to create a simple arrangement while the children watch, thinking out loud all the while, simply narrating the process of making an arrangement. Some florists may even be willing to help a few children at a time make small arrangements using flowers left over from an event or those that have just passed their prime. Having an experience like this would certainly enhance a floral shop themed dramatic play area!
Nurseries and Greenhouses- This is a great option, particularly if spring is a little late in coming to your area! Have someone show you around the greenhouse, showing how plants are started and cared for even in the cold! Many nurseries will also have a garden center where you can have your host show the children seeds, tools, and other supplies used for growing a garden. You may want contact your local extension office or a nearby university or college for some great greenhouse experiences.
Visit a “Famous” Garden – Most areas have some kind of green space, notorious for its gardens. Whether it’s a park, a community garden, a professional botanical garden, or an accomplished hobbyist in your neighborhood with a backyard botanical display, take advantage of a great garden that your children are familiar with. See if you can get a gardener to show you around and talk about how the plants have been cared for.
Neighborhood Garden Tour – I recently took my boys on a short, slow drive through our neighborhood (as a means of soothing a tantrum that had exploded as we were leaving another location). With the windows rolled down and the cool spring air flowing in, we took turns pointing out vibrant yellow forsythia bushes, talked about how grape hyacinths got their name, and kept our eyes out for puffy white trees in bloom. You could do the same on a family drive or as a walking field trip through your school’s neighborhood.
Into the Wild- Don’t overlook the unmanicured, more natural locations for exploring plant life. Natural forests, woodlands, wetlands, deserts, canyons – whatever you have available! Even an expedition into the empty lot, pasture, or backyard – accompanied by a spade, a magnifying glass, and a camera – can yield great finds!
Don’t forget the parents! You may have a parent in your class who is a master gardener, a landscaper, or a farmer. Tap in to these resources, as they are often the most eager to help and the most apt to relate to the age group! So often, when asking parents, you can simply say, “Show us what your child finds most interesting about what you do!”
Remember that many of the excursions listed above could be adapted for a class visitor experience as well. Invite the florist or gardener to come to you. Encourage them to bring some of the tools they use and some samples of their work. It’s always fun to see what the children really zero in on. (I’ll never forget how fascinated a group of preschoolers were with the stretchy green floral tape our florist visitor brought in!)
Also remember that any visitor or excursion is a great opportunity to create a class book (similar to this activity). You may want to take the pictures during the activity, or have each child in a small group take one picture of their favorite specimen or activity. You can work together with the children to write the text in their own words to accompany the pictures. Read it to them often and give it a spot in your library! It’s sure to be one of their favorite books!
Enjoy a trip out and about with your little ones!
Photo by horizonaus.