Toddler School

Creating Garden Rules with Toddlers {Composting Unit}

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We’ve been reading about the great outdoors, how things grow and the natural beauties we can see, such as rainbows, for weeks. The boys are ready to venture out into the garden! But the real question is, “Is mom ready to take them?” Before I took the plunge and dug into {ha ha} our outdoor classroom I needed a game plan and a strategy for teaching outside. I also had several safety concerns to address.

How to Create and Write Garden Rules with Toddlers and Kids. Establishing an Outdoor Classroom.

How to Create and Establish Garden Rules with Toddlers

My entire game plan for Day 1 was to simply take them outside and teach them nothing, but learn from them. I set up our Baby Diego {it’s plastic and waterproof and we weren’t using it anymore} as a toddler coral around the little space I chose to be our garden and outdoor classroom.

I started with them on The Mess Mat at 10am like usual. I read books about gardening and asked them if they would want to make a garden with me.

I said, “It would be a great place to learn!” Cash agreed.


Introducing Rules

With every classroom environment you must have a set of guidelines for the kids to follow. Just like on The Mess Mat I wanted to establish some “Garden Rules” so after reading to the boys, I announced we were going out into our new, outdoor classroom.

Ooohs and aaahs and chaos began as everyone scampered to get their rubber boots on.

I opened The Mess Mat door to the outside world and revealed the Baby Diego set up I had made earlier. Both boys immediately darted for the dirt and my job was to sit back and observe the chaos that ensued. I watched them throw dirt, eat dirt, pluck plants, shout, trip over big rocks, try to climb the Diego, nearly throw a rock through the window and so much more.

They had a fantastic time… it was now time to intervene.


Experiencing Rules

The rules we created together below are the post result of our conversations, not the rules I presented them with that I, myself created. But, since I’m writing this blog post after the fact I know what our created rules are. 

Safety First: I asked them to help me make the garden more safe to learn, Cash quickly said that brother tripped over the rocks, so we moved them. We actually used them to fill in some bigger holes, bonus! I then talked to them about why the Baby Diego was there and that the road wasn’t safe. The Diego keeps them safe and inside the garden, away from the road, so they shouldn’t climb it, move it or push it. Easy sell. Finally we discussed moving slower with our bodies for safety. Not an easy sell, but Cash liked to play the game fassssst…. Slowwwwww as he walks so lessons learned I suppose.

How to Create and Write Garden Rules with Toddlers and Kids. Establishing an Outdoor Classroom. How to Create and Write Garden Rules with Toddlers and Kids. Establishing an Outdoor Classroom. How to Create and Write Garden Rules with Toddlers and Kids. Establishing an Outdoor Classroom.

 

Dirt Stays Down: After explaining that the dirt is a blanket for the baby seeds and it is used to “tuck them in” Cash understood not to throw it.

How to Create and Write Garden Rules with Toddlers and Kids. Establishing an Outdoor Classroom. How to Create and Write Garden Rules with Toddlers and Kids. Establishing an Outdoor Classroom. How to Create and Write Garden Rules with Toddlers and Kids. Establishing an Outdoor Classroom.
 

Encourage the Plants: On that same note as being tucked in, I explained that the seeds were going to bed and needed their rest to grow big and strong. We should encourage them, but not wake them up! Just like we whisper to Wyatt when he is sleeping we need to talk softly to our plants. See Cash encouraging his little darlings in our Instagram video HERE.

How to Create and Write Garden Rules with Toddlers and Kids. Establishing an Outdoor Classroom. How to Create and Write Garden Rules with Toddlers and Kids. Establishing an Outdoor Classroom. How to Create and Write Garden Rules with Toddlers and Kids. Establishing an Outdoor Classroom.

 

Look before you Touch: I presented the Hooligans with magnifying glasses. I picked up some of the wreckage from their first bout in the planter boxes and handed Cash an uprooted weed. I instructed that he should slow down and look before he goes fast. I said, “You missed the best parts by going fast buddy, look at the roots!” I also showed him some bugs that he may have disturbed in his dirt throwing… He said, “Sorry little buddy” as he squinted through the magnifying glass.

How to Create and Write Garden Rules with Toddlers and Kids. Establishing an Outdoor Classroom.

Observe, Listen and Report: Another easy one to bring up after the one above… I told Cash that I was going to use my lookers and listeners to find more things in the garden, secret things that only calm bodies can find. We listened to the trees dropping maple seeds and watched them float all the way down to the ground. “Did you know where those came from before we watched?” I asked. Cash shook his head. Now he knows. We then came inside and Cash did his “report” by painting the falling maple seeds while brother Wyatt took a nap.

 


 Writing Rules

Here is the biggest mom tip I can give you: Let the kids make the rules! I learned this back in my student-teaching days… kids are much more inclined to follow the rules if they are the ones who wrote them!

Together, back inside and with quite a bit of prompting we wrote our list of rules together. When asking Cash to remember the “rules we discovered” his first thing to say is “No dirt throwing” which is true, but I like to write rules with a positive angle and list them as what you SHOULD DO by avoiding words like “no” and “don’t” which makes the corrections so much more pleasant. I could spend every garden lesson from here on out saying “NO DIRT THROWING!” but that is just so negative and makes me nag the entire time. By rewriting the exact same rule I can remind Cash that “dirt stays down” and he’ll know why {to tuck in the seeds} as opposed to mom nagging and taking my fun away.

We wrote our 5 Garden Rules {try to keep it at 5 or less} and I made up a chart. I used a Document Folder to display them so that it was weather proof-ish and we hung it in the garden. I do take it down on windy days so it is safe.

If you are making your own Toddler Gardens and want to use our rules here is a FREE Printable Garden Rules Chart just for you.

Though do try to make your own rules! It is an entire day of enlightenment and the self discipline of a toddler who makes his own rule is a beautiful thing!

How to Create and Write Garden Rules with Toddlers and Kids. Establishing an Outdoor Classroom.
Link Back to the Gardening Unit’s Main Post to start from the beginning!

Learn More about Toddler School and past Lessons/Units HERE


Related Posts:

 

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Hi There! I’m Kandice
Wife, WAHM and mother to 2 Hooligan boys making the most out of my Sweet & Sticky {not sure who is who yet… they change daily}
Life is what you make it and when you accept your Sweet & Sticky you can regain control of your chaotic #MomLife.
Before Motherhood I was never late, preached efficiency and even color coded my closet. Life changes after 2 Toddlers {obviously} so now I’m building new Small Systems, Organizing Mom Routines and Charting Schedules that keep our Team productive.
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