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Resources that help discover the life cycle of plants

When considering using your resources to explore the life cycle of plants, you may be surprised to learn that there are just as many indoor opportunities as those found outside.

Written by: Educational Specialist - Jo Harris  


‘Why try to explain miracles to your children, when you can have them plant a garden

Janet Kilburn Phillips.





When considering using your resources to explore the life cycle of plants, you may be surprised to learn that there are just as many indoor opportunities as those found outside.

Indoor Gardening

Although we think that growing plants outdoors is optimal, the advantage of planting indoors may encourage more children to become involved. 

All-in-one growing systems such as the Vege pod offer both form and function, especially if the castors are added to the unit. The freedom to move it across the garden to follow the sun or keep it away from it creates the ideal environment for the seeds growing inside.

Children may like to explore the inner workings of plants and flowers by experimenting with a flower press set up on a low table within the natural environment they were found in. Adding a wooden or stone pestle and mortar or potion kit gives children time to mix the materials together to create ‘food and drink’ in outdoor kitchens, much like they have seen prepared in an indoor kitchen at mealtime. 

Adding wooden trees to imaginative play settings that depict the 4 seasons of nature can encourage meaningful discussions and prompt questions that children may have about the world around them. This is a visual way to show what is happening in and around the world around them and can be a snapshot of time from one place to another. Children may notice that the trees may not always lose their leaves or change colour from month to month, which could generate more questions and exploration. 

Leaves collected from outside could be paired with a digital microscope for closer inspection to learn more about their structure and texture, which may differ between species. Craft leaves are ideal for pasting and collaging or added to dramatic play spaces, which add to the authenticity of a landscape.

Outdoor Gardening

Mud Kitchens can be set up in just about any yard area, whether incorporated into a sand pit or a separate area under a verandah for children to explore the joys of nature play. The beauty of these is that they are an ongoing testament to the next stage in the life cycle of a tree. Made from trees, children can be encouraged to learn and understand the value of the origin of the play structure they now play with and that it once had an alternative purpose. 

With a visual guide, such as Mud Kitchen Activity Cards and Process Stones, children are encouraged to utilise found materials with endless possibilities, supporting their growing understanding of caring for and protecting our environment. 

Keeping tools and gardening items accessible such as watering cans and gloves, allows children to become familiar with how to take care of living things in simple terms, which could also lead to conversations about what they need to function well and stay healthy. Storing them in air-tight containers close to gardening areas and an outdoor tap or sink can prompt children to try them out. 

Presenting natural items such as flowers, leaves, petals, stones, twigs, and branches in and on hand-carved Teak wooden bowls, trays, slices, tables, and cookware, there are opportunities for children to discover how resources are made from what is readily available in nature and can be used for many different purposes for years to come. 

The beauty of natural spaces is the flexibility of moving materials within both indoor and outside areas. Keeping things simple and uncomplicated leaves room for the children’s natural curiosity to become involved and engaged with their learning within the daily context of their routines.


Planting from Seed

It takes planning and consideration to grow gardens from seed, as experiments need time and effort to track their progress and changes. Having resources that provide a visual cue to support learning is ideal as it allows them to consolidate their learning. 

Planting seeds can assist children’s comprehension of the magic of nature by reading a book like the Helping Hands Grow It book, or a poster with clear imagery of the growing process and observing the seeds regularly.

Children will be able to refer to the pages in the book to help visualise the way in which the seeds will eventually sprout, as found in the Let’s Learn about Vegetable gardens big book. The illustrations can also support children in revisiting the early stages of the planting process, especially after they have grown to remind themselves of the beginning of the experiment. 

Along with this, there will be prompts to encourage children to take care of the plants through the modelling that other children and adults display. Children interested in drawing and writing may like to become involved by helping label their plants with their names on the tags/trays or by following the flow chart on the poster. 

Adding felt or wood to the home corner or role-play areas allows children to explore them in various stages of growth. Many children learn about their properties by ‘cooking’ with them and relating them to the food they eat during mealtimes. 

The Papoose Grow a Garden allows children to plant, harvest and re-plant as many times as they wish, gaining an understanding of the growth that occurs above and below the soil. Cutting up wooden fruit to create nutritious smoothies invites children to study the inside, learning more about their origins from seed to fruit. 


Don’t forget the role of pollination 

Playing games is critical to creating memories among educators and children. They are an opportunity to reflect on current learning of concepts which can encourage further discussion and learning. 

The object of the  Honey Bee Count and Colour Game is to be the first bee to collect the nectar from the flower and return to the hive. It could be played initially with children to learn about the role of bees in the health and survival of our planet and as a basic introduction to the importance of having gardens to grow and produce food. Including a set of the Wooden Honeycomb Bee Hive can extend their play as they make their own honey with the little felt bees. 


Using sustainable materials can deepen the learning

There can be a debate about using plastic versus wood resources provided for young children. Each has pros and cons, including key considerations such as cost, hygiene, and lifespan. 

Encouraging different materials can be made simpler by their intended use and the age groups that will be utilising them. It is often most practical for younger children to incorporate plastic resources into the program as they require more frequent washing. 

Many resources are now widely available in recycled plastic or from the by-product of waste. Larger items, including recycled PET rugs made from plastic bottles and spiral bowls hand-made from discarded food packaging, can become important teaching tools to inspire future generations to develop creative solutions to store resources whilst living more harmoniously with nature. 

For more information about growing a garden in your service, with please visit


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