Everybody sing the planting song

Every year we plant flowers on our balcony with E. who loves spring and the revival of nature (and her coming birthday too).

Usually I buy some plants at the flower market and we plant them together, like last year or the year before. Last year we also tried to plant carrots, tomatoes, and ruccola. Well, apart from the tomato it wasn’t a successful year (we had 8-10 cherry tomatoes in September), but we’d started plating really late, at the beginning of May.

To attune the girls to the revival of nature and planting I collected some youtube videos for them, mainly songs. Here are their favourite ones (that they learnt by heart within 2 days):

The Planting Song

Parts of a plant

One seed

How plants grow

Peppa pig-Gardening

However, this year I was all prepared. I bought these cute plant nurseries at the Flying Tiger Shop and some seeds in one of the big supermarkets. (We collected some seeds from our balcony flowers, too, 2 years ago and I accidentally found the envelopes.) One of the ladies at the market who I get on really well with gave some spring onion bulbs to E. to plant.

We had a 4-day long weekend due to our national holiday, 15 March and we used one of the days to do the planting.

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I put down and old wax table cloth on the floor and fixed it with painter’s tape. Then prepared all the necessary ingredients:

  • dirt (in another word soil)
  • seeds (this year we planted radishes, gurkins*, carrots, basil, tomato, poppies, and snapdragons.)
  • spoons (next year a really need to purchase some kid-size gardening tools)
  • plant nursery

Before starting the planting procedure I showed them the parts of a flower cards and they put them in the right order: root, stem, leaves and flower. E. placed the word cards next to them. (The link above will take you to the site where you can download your own copy if you wish.)

The girls scooped the dirt in the little holes. L. was making the sound of a digger while doing it. And for her that was it all. She lost interest in planting very quickly. She went to her little kitchen and cooked some food for Daddy.

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But E. was really enthusiastic about it. She told me which seed to plant first , she opened the packets and envelopes that hid the seeds. She observed the seeds carefully noticing their different shapes, sizes and colours. (It was quite fascinating to see that the tomato seeds were blue and the poppy seeds were really tiny.)

She also wrote the name of the plants on a wooden stick so we’ll know later on which sprout is which plant.

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E. made holes in the dirt with her index finger and dropped the seeds, next covered them with some more dirt. When we finished with all of them she watered them lightly.

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E. enjoyed it some much and was so excited about the planting that she was staring at the plant nursery nearly all afternoon. She was talking to them and wanted to water them more. This gave us an opportunity to talk about that giving the plant too much water or sunshine does no good.

The next day our radish and gurkin sprouted and E. saw a gurkin loop in the dirt. She started to call them Loopy and ran to find her Ikea plush gurkin/cucumber.

After a few days I offered her to draw what happens to the plant in a plant diary. She wanted to draw only the radish and the gurkin although every seed had started to sprout by this time. She measured them and drew how they changed size and colour, how they grew.

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The next phase was to put them into bigger pots. Unfortunately we waited too long and planted the seeds too close to each other so we had a hard time to separate them. It might happen that they won’t survive as both the roots and the stems were rather weak. The radishes went to the balcony in a long pot, the gurkins were planted into bigger round pots with 2 wooden sticks and a string between them to provide support for the future vines.

Still E. is talking to them kindly and taking care of them with great care. Whoever comes to us has to have a look at the plants. Her plant diary is coming along really nicely. Soon we need to replace the other plants into bigger pots (we ran out of soil).

Stay tuned, there’s more to come, hopefully you can see beautiful flowers and tasty veggies.

*I found 2 ways of writing gurkin/gherkin. The latter is more common but I used the first version in this post. When I asked E. if she could spell it, she spellt it gurkin 🙂

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"Take a photo" scavenger hunt (with free printable)

In the middle of July we went up to the mountains. We were mainly in Hungarian up there but I wanted to have some English fun with E. As she’s into taking photos a lot nowadays I made her an ad hoc “take a photo” scavenger hunt activity.

The sheet I prepared is hand-made but I created a free printable out of it, which you can download at the end of this post.

E. can take better pictures than this
We went for an excursion to a lake. E. at first wasn’t very impressed with this activity, which surprised me to a great extent. But as we went along she got more and more excited.
All the photos were taken by her. Some are blurry some are absolutely gorgeous:
a bush with flowers

 

lake

 

Ms. Photographer

 

Invisible spider web

 

“log”, which is more like a tree trunk 😉

 

roots

 

she can’t use the zoom but the ducks are in the top right corner

She told me to add green plants on her scavenger hunt activity sheet:

green plants

 

blurry dragonfly as a bug

I also needed to add “stones and rocks” as it was E.’s wish

Rock with moss

 

stones

 

the look out tower

 

oak leaves

Unfortunately, she couldn’t take a photo of a butterfly as they never seemed to land. Anyways, this project was more than rewarding if you have a look at the pictures. I think we’ll cover some other topics in the near future, like babies, playground, market, just to mention a few.

Now click on the link to print your own “Take a photo” scavenger hunt activity sheet.

A bit of Earth Day gardening

Before our American native nanny left Hungary we had a flower planting last session with her. Although I wanted to do this activity on Earth Day, the weather did not favour us so we had to postpone it for a few weeks.

I bought the plants at a flower market that is close to our place: 6 flowers and  a green plant:


Verbena
Snapdragon
Marigold
Periwinkle
Petunia
Dakota Sunspot
White-edged Swedish Ivy (a kind of mosquito repellent with leaves that has special smell if you rub it, no flower though)

 

 

You can download the flower picture here. (Buttercup is also included as E. found one in a field and we needed to check what it was). The names are added both in Hungarian and in English.

 

What you need:

  • flowers/plants of your choice
  • flower pots
  • soil (we had 5 kg for 7 plants)
  • shovels
  • watering can with water
How we did it:
Best to do it in the garden or on the balcony but the weather has been very windy (still is) so I put down an old wax tablecloth on the floor and we did the planting on it indoors. In this way we did not dirt the whole living-room and it was relatively easier to clean up.
E. doesn’t really like to dirt her hands. I try to come up with ideas when she needs to do so in a fun way so she can overcome this bad feeling of dirty hands.
She touched the soil/dirt with great hesitation, though.
We filled up half of a pot with dirt.
She took the plants out of its small pot and pinched off some ends of its roots (it was L.’s advice that she’d learnt from her mom)

 

Then, she placed the plant into the bigger pot in the new soil after having created a little hole in the middle and added more dirt on top of the roots.
We have some nice blue buckets which can be hung on our balcony so the final step was that E. put the pot in the bucket.
When we were ready with all the plants she took them all out onto the balcony and hung them up.
Let’s not forget about watering the plants.

For a few days she wanted to go out and water them, but now it’s been a week she last saw her plants. I need to water them, but it’s true that a lot has been going on recently because of her birthday. Not to mention the fact that this strong wind we’ve had nowadays has destroyed the flowers and, to be honest, they are far from nice at the very moment. I can only hope a little later they’ll revive when the weather gets better and E. will show some more interest in them.

All in all, it was great fun, a nice way to have one of our last sessions with our nanny, L. I admit it was quite messy, but E. enjoyed it and learnt a lot about planting, getting your hands dirty, decorating our home and taking care of a living creature.

Her English vocabulary expanded: she learnt quite many synonyms like shoots/sprouts, spade/shovel, throw away/dump, soil/dirt. (For the Hungarian readers: when she told Daddy about our planting project she said: .” …aztán koszt raktunk a cserépbe”)

What gardening project do you do with your kids in the spring? I’m looking forward to your answers in the comment section so we can do something new next year.

Peony petals suncatcher

I’ve seen tons of suncatcher ideas on pinterest and I’ve always wanted to try it with E. As the bunch of peonies I’d got from my mum for Mother’s Day started to lose their petals, the right time came to make our first sun catcher.

As it was a sudden idea when E. started to play (collect and cut) the fallen petals I didn’t have time for too much preparation.

I took out our sticky paper (originally it’s self-adhesive school book cover) and drew a flower on it (the transparent backside) with a permanent marker. (You can cut a flower shape outline out of paper and stick on the sticky side but I needed to be on the double). I pulled off the white part and fixed it on the table (with cello tape). I also presented some leftover yarn and green leaves on a tray apart from the petals.

E. did the sticking.

 

I wanted to talk about the different parts of the flowers but she wasn’t interested. Maybe at another time. She was too busy with the sticking.

Then when she told me she’d finished I put another sticky sheet over it (sticky side facing down) and cut along the flower outline.

The last thing E. needed to do was to stick the suncatcher on the window (with some Cello-tape, but you can also hang it)

I’m sure we’ll do some more suncatcher crafts.

Snowdrop craft with our new native nanny

Spring has arrived and brought us a new nanny, L. from California. Unfortunately, how long she’ll stay is uncertain, but even a few months will do. Here is a fun craft activity they did together.

I found this snowdrop idea on pinterest:

http://krokotak.com/2015/02/three-ideas-with-eye-make-up-remover-pads/

While E. was in the nursery I prepared the following:

The quality of the pictures are so poor… sorry.
  • 15-16 cotton pads cut-outs
  • blue construction paper
  • green construction paper (the leaf cut-outs)
  • glue
  • green markers
L, our new nanny came at 5 and they immediately sat down to make the snowdrops excitedly. I made an example for them to follow to make the whole process easier.

They started with drawing the stems and gluing the leaves.

They also coloured the snowdrops’ top green:

Some cutting and gluing:

“I need more snowdrops”

 

 
Adding some more snowdrops:
 
We displayed them on the living room door:
Of course, this wasn’t their first occasion to meet but the 3rd or 4th. However, E. and L. hit it off at the very beginning. E. needed time to realise L. doesn’t understand when she mixes some Hungarian in her talk. I’m glad to say E. uses less and less Hungarian when she speaks English, and not only when our new nanny is around. Thanks, L! We’ve really needed the native input.

If you liked this flower craft have a look at other flower projects we’ve had:

Flower flashcards
Colour changing flower experiment
Flowers made out of crepe paper and bottle tops