Watching plants grow is a lovely experience for your little ones, and the rapid growing nature of cress makes it a great plant to monitor for a project. You can buy packets of cress seeds in supermarkets, garden centres and hardware stores; a single packet will have plenty of seeds for a few growing projects.
Cress grows very well on cotton wool which is less messy than using more traditional soil. You can grow cress in any receptacle, here are a few ideas:-
- Create growing 'pots' out of Duplo, Lego or other building blocks
- Take some egg shells and grow in there, draw faces on the front to make 'cress men'
- Use an egg box to create a mountainous landscape with cress 'trees'
- Grow cress in the shapes of your childrens initials, try creating their whole name!
- Use small boxes, tins or any other containers
Lay some cotton wool inside your chosen 'pot', sprinkle seeds on top and saturate it with water. Leave it in a warm and light place such as a windowsill. Look at the pot each day and see what happens. Watch as the seeds start sprouting and then grow into tall cress. After a few days you will be able to harvest the cress - chop it with a pair of scissors and sprinkle it inside a sandwich and enjoy the reward of your labours!
It's never too early to introduce your toddlers to science - you don't call it science, of course, but there are plenty of fun activities that you can do to help build an understanding of the world around them. Here are a few ideas:-
Weather: Create a series of card pictures for different types of weather, and a picture for each of the seasons. Each morning look at the weather and put the appropriate weather and season pictures up on the wall.
Faces: Create a large picture of a head and then create a series of different eyes, noses, mouths, ears, eyebrows, hair and pairs of glasses. Have your toddler create faces, placing features in the right place. Discuss different coloured eyes, different shaped features and talk about what glasses are for.
Planting: Buy some cress or mung beans, plant them in a plastic pot, water them and watch them grow. Have your child chart the progress each day as they germinate and shoot up. Discuss the ways that they change each day, draw how they look and at the end, make a sandwich and enjoy them! Talk about how healthy they are and that good food makes you grow.
Colours: Show how mixing finger paints creates different colours. Create swirling patterns on paper by pouring on generous amounts of paint and swirling with your finger.
Growing: Use a wall to mark the height of your children. Have them stand against the wall, make a pencil mark at the height they stand and measure how tall they are. Add a date, and repeat on the first day of each month. Sometimes you'll see almost no difference, other months you might notice change. Over a prolonged time you will see how they grow. Discuss what makes you grow and the concept that your little ones are growing into big children.
These are just a few ideas, there are hundreds more activities that you can undertake with your toddlers to get them used to the concepts of science, and to spark an interest in the world around them.