Gardening begins, inch by inch

Children construct a sprouting bean plant on a felt board.

A sprouting bean plant constructed on a felt board.

Teacher of two-year-olds Sue Hewitt reports that she has already planted with one group—“lettuce last week and will do radish planting this week. I like to do something that can mature and be harvested and eaten by the kids. We usually have a salad bar one day—pick and wash and spin lettuce and have kids each bring in one thing to be in the salad. Then set up a row like a real salad bar and they choose. Of course the croutons are often the most popular!” I think the children could make croutons with whole wheat bread and herbed olive oil.

Watering pea seeds.
Some of my students have planted sugar snap peas. The package says they will be ready to harvest in 62 days! While we wait we can sing a song by David Mallet, Inch by Inch, Row by Row. You can learn it from his children’s book of the same name, from a video his website, or from Pete Seegar.
See Pete Seegar’s rendition on YouTube to learn it, a good choice for young children too because the arrangement is simple–single performer, single instrument (banjo) and the audience participates.
Garden Song by David Mallett
Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and hoe
And a piece of fertile ground.
Inch by inch, row by row
Someone bless these seeds I sow
Someone warm them from below
‘Till the rains come tumbling down.
(In the folksong tradition, another singer has added this verse.)
Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make this garden grow
Gonna mulch it deep and low
Gonna make it fertile ground
Pullin’ weeds and pickin’ stones
We are made of dreams and bones
Feel the need to grow my own
‘Cause the time is close at hand.
Grain for grain, sun and rain
Find my way in nature’s chain
Tune my body and my brain
To the music from the land.
Plant your rows straight and long
Temper them with prayer and song
Mother Earth will make you strong
If you give her loving care
Pea seeds sprouting in a clear jar.CHORUS
Old crow watching hungrily
From a perch in yonder a tree
In my garden I’m as free
As that feathered thief up there
© Cherry Lane Music Co (ASCAP)
To closely observe pea seed sprouting, “plant” them in a clear container, right next to the wall of the container with damp paper towels inside. You can see that these sprouts have not been near a window—see how pale green they are!

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3 Responses to Gardening begins, inch by inch

  1. Trista says:

    This it such a great activity, not only are you teaching them the science of growing, but also about eating healthy foods. This is a great idea I will keep this in mind for my class.

  2. Sandra says:

    I love this activity. My class participated in a projects similar to this one. We planted flower seeds in window boxes in the classroom. The children were able to see the flowers grow.
    Eating the food is a great idea because nutrition learned at an early age will stay with them especially in this age of Fast Foods.

  3. Peggy Ashbrook says:

    The Early Sprouts program ties together gardening and nutrition by having the children cook what they harvest and take home recipe kits to use at home. See more and get some recipes at:

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