Helping children and families connect with the natural world

"In a Nut Shell" Blog

Penny Folsom shares her thoughts on a monthly basis with those interested in helping children and families connect with the natural world.

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Enjoying the Fruits of the Earth

Winter seemed long in Michigan this year. Then, we plummeted into summer! There are so many things to wonder at as these long days pass.

Plants break forth from the ground, sending their new growth upward, reaching for light. Have you ever really looked at the tiny shoots? How do they push their way through the soil? What about all the different shades of green? Wow!!


Soon flowers appear on many trees, shrubs and plants. The varied shapes, colors and sizes lend themselves to discovery (as well as math concepts). Support your children in these explorations. Use the opportunity to talk about life cycles. Build on prior knowledge; each year you can expand information shared.

Plant seeds with your children. Help them learn to care for their plants. What do plants need to survive? Dirt, water and light. Grow vegetables, even if it is just one plant. Eat the fruit of your labor. Grow flowers. Zinnias are easy to grow and keep blooms for extended periods. Use your local library for more in-depth inquiry and “planting” stories.

Here are some suggestions of books to read to preschoolers (and older people too): “Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt” by Kate Messne, “Planting a Rainbow” by Lois Ehlert, “Growing Vegetable Soup” by Lois Ehlert, “How Groundhog’s Garden Grew” by Lynne Chery, “Roots Shoots Buckets and Boots” by Sharon Lovejoy, “The Tiny Seed” by Eric Carle, “I Took a Walk” by Henry Cole, and “Yucky Worms (Read and Wonder Series)” by Vivian French and Jessica Ahlberg.

Enjoy the many changes this season. Take time, observe, notice and record. Enjoy the fruits of the Earth!