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Teaching Permaculture to 3 & 4 year olds

 
Travis Charlie
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I teach a Pre-K class and I have been wanting to do a gardening project with them. In the past I have done all the normal plant stuff like planting flowers to send home on Mother's Day and germinating seeds in paper towels. But I want to teach them more. Does anyone have any links to resources that would maybe have some good visuals(I have internet access in my classroom) to help me teach. I am very new to permaculture so I want to make sure that I am teaching them properly. I have a small area 6' x 20' that I can use to plant. I brought in some compost and some more top soil and as we prepared the area we talked about what things are good for the soil and what things are bad for the soil (they did a great job finding trash that was in the dirt).

These are the plants I've chosen so far:

tomatoes
banana peppers
bell peppers
watermelon
cantelope
honeydew
peppermint
lantana

I chose the lantana to hopefully attract some hover flies to take care of any aphids as well as attract butterflies and hummingbirds for the kids to watch. We are right on the border between zone 8 & 9.

If any one has any other ideas I would love to hear them. As I'm writing this I just thought about starting to compost our lunch scraps. they would love that. And I will be taking pictures to post here. I know I love to see what everyone is working on.


 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Will you have these children over the summer?

Looking at your list of plants, I see plants that will fruit during summer break.
It might be difficult to build enthusiasm if they do not get to see 'the fruits of their labor'.

 
Aljaz Plankl
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Talk to them about three etichs of permaculture. Do not hesitate to talk to them like you would talk to adults, they usually understand way more than adults do! What works with them are questions. They love to think and answer and in this way you will also learn a lot.
 
Travis Charlie
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This is for my summer group so they will definitely be able to see this come to fruition. I also want to make plans for the fall when the real school year starts. I just don't feel like I have a good enough mix.

Thanks for the advice Tal. Ill get started on that tomorrow.
 
Cory Arsenault
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Location: Ottawa, Canada
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Maybe introduce them to the "3 Sisters" and show them how the 3 plants (corn, squash, beans) will support each other. The 3 Sisters is a really basic "guild" design.
 
Nick Garbarino
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Location: west central Florida
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I just wanted to second the 3 sisters guild suggestion. That would be really getting into permaculture and ecology.
 
Craig Dobbelyu
gardener
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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chicken food preservation forest garden hugelkultur rabbit trees
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I have two kids under 4 and from our experience I can tell you that kids can store a TON of knowledge in their heads as I'm sure you know. Planting a large variety of plants with different functions will encourage a greater scope of interactions between pests, beneficials, flowers, roots, and so much more. Kids will get a lot out of seeing all the different things that go on in a diverse garden space. My son has learned all on his own what kinds of plants grow in areas where he can find snacks like strawberries and blueberries. He's also learned that he's got some competition from hungry birds and bugs so he's got to get out there quick if he wants a prime looking berry. I think the key is to have a lot of different things growing and producing all the time. My kids have fun out in the gardens and fields because they never know what they'll experience next. It's not just the same five or so veggies that most people grow. Today we watched a dragonfly defending the little pond we dug out last fall. That set off a landslide of questions from the kids. It's awesome as a parent to see kids wanting to learn and craving knowledge.

May I recommend nasturtiums as they grow quick and have edible flowers and leaves. Maybe you could build an herb spiral as a class project. Have kids bring in stones or whatever building materials they can find at home and then brainstorm ways to use them.
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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I like that idea of building an herb spiral.

Depending on your climate, most Mediterranean herbs will grow as perennials, or reseed themselves. They will be there for next year's class as well. They are native to a region where they grow like weeds with little care, in rocky, dry and poor soils. They attract a huge assortment of pollinators. They could be a great tool for teaching how well many plants grow together naturally. Their aromas will stimulate the children.

Good luck...those children are anxiously awaiting to learn. You could be a great influence on their futures.

 
Travis Charlie
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So we finished our first week with our garden and it has gone over incredibly well. The kids are having a blast! They are excited every morning to see what our project is. The parents are telling that they are going home every night tell them about what kinds of plants we have and how mulch works and why we use it. Something that they really enjoyed that I didn't think of was when we were getting ready to plant we had a long discussion about what was good for the soil and what wasn't. They dug around for probably 20 or 30 minutes bringing things to me that they thought shouldn't be in the soil. It gave me a lot examples to explain why we don't litter and what makes good compost. Also, I was pleasantly surprised to find our garden was teaming with earthworms. Another great topic of discussion(kids love talking about poop).

So all in all we had a great first week. Next week I think I'm going to take everyone's advice and start a three sisters guild. It will give me an opportunity to teach them about living mulch and how plants can help each other just like how they are supposed to help each other (anytime I get a chance to throw in a character trait lesson I jump on it.)

Also, I love the idea of an herb spiral. I'm going to look up some designs and probably plan on this for the week after next.

One of the cool things about this being a preschool is most of my kids are year round kids so they will get to see the immediate fruits and also watch the garden turn into a fall garden as we switch to potatoes, and broccoli and cauliflower. I think this is going to turn into a permanent fixture. Thanks for all your advice and keep it coming. It's giving me tons of ideas.
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LaLena MaeRee
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Here is a link to the youtube page of a guy named Charlie who writes and performs songs about permaculture, my nephews love him permie songs
My favorite thing to teach all my nephews around age 2-3 is that they can see, touch, and play in sun beams that enter the room on a clear day if we are inside. Then I tell them that the sun is putting vitamins in their bodies as it touches them which they always find fascinating. I think it is a fun way to get them thinking about things like the sun, and not just fearing it because it can burn them.
 
Craig Dobbelyu
gardener
Posts: 1414
Location: Maine (zone 5)
100
chicken food preservation forest garden hugelkultur rabbit trees
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Speaking of the sun, You could set up an area that isn't suited for a garden, as a human sundial. Just google "human sundial" Kids would get a kick out of it. I'm sure there's all sorts of games kids could play on a space like that.
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
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