My girls have their tiny green thumbs busy gardening in the Spring and Summer, but in the winter we look forward to caring for house plants. In Montessori, caring for plants is a part of the Practical Life curriculum called Care of Environment. Care of Environment involves dusting, sweeping, polishing, washing, and plant care. Children love taking ownership of their classroom or home. There are many products available for children plant care, but there are ways to make this on a budget. I put together this little plant care kit with things that I had in my kitchen.
The plant shown is a Philodendron, it’s nearly impossible to kill and the leaves are sturdy for polishing. They grow very fast, so the payoff for caring for it comes quick. I also recommend plants like the Aspidistra Elatior, Peace Lilly, and Kentia Palm. There are a lot of possible science and botany tie-ins for this!
The watering activity is simply an aluminum water bottle, with a turkey baster in it. I like it better than a watering can for toddlers or early preschool because it involves squeezing with the whole hand, it prevents the plant from flooding, and less water is spilled or wasted. I fill the water bottle only once a day, so the plant gets only what it needs.
I made leaf polishing with an empty lidded spice jar and some cotton balls. I fill the jar just a little to prevent toddler-made rain storms. Spray bottles are also used for this, but I prefer this for the little folk’s hands. When presenting this activity, be sure to stress the gentle movements with the leaves. I do the job first, so they can see an example. Use the jar to sprinkle some water on the cotton ball. Start at the stem of the leaf, supporting it from the bottom with the other hand, and move toward the edges. It’s amazing how dusty plants can get. Children LOVE seeing the dirty cotton ball, it’s a sign of a job well done!