From Seed to Plate– a Magical Learning Experience
The concept of growing is for pre-schoolers a truly magical process. Back in January while preparing snack, a red pepper sparked an interesting conversation. The group of children were particularly fascinated by the seeds they could see inside. We talked about what happens to a seed once it has been planted, some of the children brought experiences such as what they have seen growing in their allotment, garden or house. But most of the group when asked where vegetables come from they responded, “from the shops”.
The next day along with my green fingered colleague, we decided to experiment and plant a pepper. The children cut the pepper down the middle, we placed them in a bucket and covered them over with soil. The children made labels (one for the yellow pepper and one for the red) and we stuck them to the bucket too. Excitement levels were through the roof as we placed them on a cable reel in the preschool room so that we could monitor their progress.
The next lesson for the children to learn was patience. We gave the pepper some water (sometimes possibly too much!) but the enthusiasm from the children felt wonderful. They showered the plants with their love and attention – parents were commenting that their children were talking about our pepper plant at home and how they were doing. After a few weeks the first shoots started appearing! This added a whole new level of excitement, and there were often little clusters of children examining the bucket, of course using a magnifying glass to “see better”.
Then lockdown happened, and they had to come home with me. The children were concerned that there would be no one to look after them, so I found myself posting updates on our nursery group for them to see. They continued to grow a little bit but didn’t seem to be as happy in my (makeshift) greenhouse. When they really started thriving though was when I bought them back to nursery in June. The children helped to repot them into a tyre, which we positioned in the front garden in the sunshine.
It has become an important part of our routine to check on our peppers each day, giving them some water if we think they need it, but mostly just sitting near them chatting about what we can see. In the past month lots of “little baby peppers” (as one of our two-year olds pointed out) have started to grow along with three or four bigger ones.
We were amazed that we have been able to grow our own peppers using just a pepper! It began as an experiment, we never thought we would get past the first shoots. I guess it shows that with the love and attention of a group of pre-schoolers, anything can grow! The ownership our preschool have shown in taking responsibility for the peppers has been wonderful, they have been so careful whilst examining them (we were fully expecting the bucket to get tipped over or the shoots to get squashed with over-exuberance!) but these peppers have completely transformed since being back at preschool since June. In what is currently quite a scary and divided society, we have found that our peppers have provided a little glimmer of hope and consistency for the children.
We have in the last few weeks planted the seeds of a honeydew melon we were eating for our snack. They are being looked after by the two-year-old room, and we are very excited to see what happens to them!
Our pepper plant in the early stages – at home during lockdown.
One of our bigger peppers growing in the preschool garden.
Honeydew melon shoots a few days after planting.