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It all started with a seed in a plastic cup. As soon as the little seed sprouted, a seed of hope and success sprouted in my daughter’s mind. That little seed in the little plastic cup started a learning journey that taught both of us.
Hands on learning is a must for my struggling learner. Textbook learning does not work for her. We listen to textbooks on audio but the real learning comes when she can do the lesson. For botany this year, she made a botany garden. On her own. With no help from me. The only thing I asked was that she protect our wood windowsill with plastic.
I wanted to tell her a cut in half water bottle would not grow a seed – if you wait until mom gets around to it, I’ll buy a real pot. Guess what? It doesn’t matter what the seed is in, as long as it has soil, water, and sun, it will grow. I wanted to point out her mistakes and tell her we didn’t have any more space for more seed cups. But I kept quiet and moved more decorations out of the window sill. I got out the way and let her learn.
Here is what she did:
1. Everywhere we went she collected seeds. When we opened a cantaloupe, she took the “guts” and planted the whole thing. Sunflower seeds (non-roasted and unsalted) were more than a snack. Any fruit, beans, and veggie seeds became fair game to her dirt cups. Bird seed is not just for the birds! When we visited an aunt who loved to garden, she gave her seeds from last year’s garden. When she returned home from nature walks, seeds filled her pockets.
2. Any cup or water bottle became a seed pot. Just poke a few holes, and viola!
3. Plants need light, so she and Dad built a light box!
4. You know those half empty water bottles no one claims? Poke a hole in the lid and it’s an instant watering can!
5. Experiment with different soils, light conditions, and water conditions.
6. Notice growth of the plants. Do they need to be replanted? Are they getting enough light? Can they be replanted outside?
She learned more this year because I didn’t get in the way. I allowed her to mess up and learn from the plants that died. I didn’t suggest facts, but asked questions. Her curiosity caused her to find the answers. It was through the failures (plants that died or didn’t grow) that learning happened. I didn’t teach – and she learned so much more than if I had.