What You Need
- Hardy houseplants like ivy, aloe vera, or succulents
- Small watering can
- Plant food or fertilizer
- Pen or dry erase marker
- Paper or dry erase board
Head out to the garden center and pick plants out together (don’t forget to pick up some plant food or fertilizer, too). Be sure to choose plants that are safe for everyone — stay away from the mildly poisonous poinsettia and philodendron and the highly poisonous shamrock and dieffenbachia.
When you bring your plants home, talk about why they need water, how much they need, and how often to give it to them. Come up with a watering schedule — you can even make a calendar on paper or a dry erase board. When it comes time to water, have your child measure water into the watering can and pour it into each pot. Let him decide where he thinks the plants will get the most sun. Then, put the plant food or fertilizer into the soil.
Ask your child things like
- “What do you think the plant food will do to the plant? What does food do for you?”
- “What do you think would happen if you didn’t feed or water your plant?”
- A couple weeks down the road, “Do you think your plant looks any bigger? Greener? Leafier?”
Don’t forget to have your child dust off the plants’ leaves every so often and talk about why it’s necessary. Say things like, “Can your plant get oxygen when it’s covered in dust?” and “What happens when something can’t breathe?”
What Your Child Learns
Taking care of a living thing builds compassion, respect, and responsibility in children. Your child will also learn to observe, ask questions, consider problems, and find solutions — the beginnings of scientific thinking.