Category Archives: Science & Sensory

The Return

Last week was a short week here for the children and their parents. For me it was a diverse and very busy week.  It started with the May long weekend – still too cold to plant anything outside but that was ok because I still had a lot of work to do on the garden before it was ready for plants.

You may remember years back when we first started gardening that we used raised planter boxes.  These were very functional but I considered them somewhat boring – I’m definitely not a ‘square box’ type of person.  So, when we renovated the yard last year I added a real garden area because I think that being ‘in’ a garden is a magical experience.

Last year’s garden was certainly full of adventure but I have to admit that it was not without some design issues.  The raised sides of the old planter boxes had provided much needed support to young and old alike as we worked in the garden.  Without these raised borders there were many – usually accidental – tumbles off the pathway.  The garden plants were not impressed.

We also missed the arched trellis that had joined two of our old planter boxes together provided a ‘secret hiding place’ when it was covered in beans and cucumbers. (I try hard to say that correctly but the children’s “cucamumbers” name is such a cute word that sometimes I use it too).

So, with my husband willing to help me with the not-so-easy angle cuts we built a raised edge between the garden walkway and the outer planting beds.  I added three arched trellises over the little seating areas that had already been included in my original plan.  The centre planting section would have become too small if we had tried to make it into a raised bed so we just made a border using some log slices.

My husband refers to the border around the centre section as the ‘tomb stones’ for all the plants that don’t survive. The children and I are more optimistic.  Last week, the children were very excited about the changes that had been made.  They gravitated to the three arches, often sitting there for long periods and imagining what it will be like once they are covered with plants.  They carried on long conversations with the turtles and Old Man Tree.  We engaged in some exciting sensory activities with Coco Earth which starts out hard and impenetrable when it is dry;

But changes when we add water;

And it will be wonderful for the plants when now that we have mixed it with the soil in the garden.

The children were only here for two days last week before I was off to attend MCCA’s annual conference.  It was an enlightening and wondrous event.  I was thrilled to meet and attend workshops presented by Rae Pica and Bethe Almeras.  Now, refreshed and eager, I look forward to continue work on our garden project and many more exciting new adventures and experiences with the children.

Our Grain Project

I figure it is time for a quick update on our project to grow other grains in our garden besides wheat — background info here. I had purchase some lentils, Rye seeds, Oats, Spelt, Triticate, Kamut, Barley, and Quinoa from the Scoop N’Weigh store.

We began by taking a few of each of the grain seeds to examine at circle time.  I shared some information that I had learned about the various grains, where they originated and what they were used for.

The children examined the grains and I wrote down some of their comments and observations.

  • The Rye stinks – it smells like rye bread (apparently not a favourite bread)
  • The oats look like the rye.
  • It smells like horse poo. (it does remind me of the smell of a barn)
  • I think it smells like carrots and celery.
  • To me it smells like perfume and dinosaurs. (Can’t argue with this since I don’t know what a dinosaur smells like).
  • The quinoa is so cute – it is tiny and cool – looks like a seashell.

Then we glued the seed samples on the paper with the information to keep for future reference.

The following day we planted some of the seeds as a test to see if they would actually sprout – I was still a little doubtful.  Everyone got a turn to put some seeds in the soil.

The quinoa is so small it takes great fine motor skills to plant these ones.

Then I put the tray under the grow light and we waited.  The quinoa was the first to sprout – took just two days! Only two of the six quinoa seed sprouted though so I’m not sure if it will be a successful crop.

All of the lentils, Rye, Kamut, and Triticate sprouted and grew magnificently as did half of the Spelt.  The barley and the oats failed to sprout at all.  I even planted a second batch of each and they didn’t sprout either.  Still, more than 50% of the seeds we planted actually did sprout so I can’t complain.

One of our grandmothers with a farm connection has promised to get us some oats and soybeans from the country.  Maybe we’ll have more success with those oats. Hopefully I’ll complete the work on the garden (that will be another post) and we can get the rest of our seeds in the ground outside next week.