How Green Things Grow: Helping Your Preschooler to Learn

Teach your preschooler to love and respect the natural world while introducing him to basics of science by spending some time learning how trees and plants grow. A great springtime activity and learning opportunity that you can pursue both indoors and out!

The Parts of a Plant

Start by sitting down with some paper and crayons and drawing pictures of plants. Ask your little one what types of plants there are, and point out some he may have missed. Explain how plants and trees are similar, no matter what their size, by pointing out the characteristics they have in common. Draw a diagram of a plant, showing all of the parts; the roots, the stem or trunk, branches, leaves and flowers.

Next break down the parts of the plant for your child, and explain what each does to help the whole to thrive.

  • Roots: draw water and nutrients up from the ground to help the plant to grow. Help children to understand this concept by comparing roots to straws through which the plant can suck up water and food.
  • Stem or trunk and branches: carry the water and food from the roots to the rest of the plant.
  • Leaves: Absorb sunlight and make food for the plant
  • Flowers: Make seeds or fruits so that new plants can grow

How Plants Grow from Seeds

When you reach the point of explaining how new seeds are created, it’s a great time to check out some seeds with your little one and plant a few together. A sunflower is a great choice because the seeds are large, they grow easily, and they will eventually produce new seeds that your little one can easily recognize, completing the cycle.

Explain how the seed needs the soil and water you pour over it to sprout those roots you discussed in your diagram, and that it will grow all of the plant parts if just given enough food, water and sunshine. Let him help you choose a sunny place to set your new plants, and give them time to grow. Every day, let him water the plant and watch for new growth.

When your little plant starts to get bigger, you can transplant it carefully to an outside garden or larger pot. This process will allow your child to see the roots and connect the plant before him with the pictures you drew. Ask him to point out all the parts of the plant from the diagram before you set your little sprout up in a new and bigger home.

How Plants Become Food

A visit to a farm or orchard is a great learning opportunity to help your preschooler understand how plants create food that we can consume. Examine various plants and see what sorts of fruits and vegetables grow from them. Pick some samples and cut them open to locate the seeds. This will help your child to connect the produce she eats with the same life cycle as the sunflower she grew.

Plant a small garden at home and let your child help to grow food for your table. Not only will she be learning about how things grow, but you’ll also find it easier to get her to eat vegetables she helped bring to life!

With simplified explanations and some hands-on learning, you can teach your preschooler all about how plants and trees grow, and have some fun along the way!

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