Last Wednesday night saw 24 local Beavers (children aged 6 to 8, not the kind that build dams!) visiting the vegetable garden to take part in activities that help towards them completing their ‘experiment’ badge. The visit was planned jointly by myself and two members of the Ranger Team. We met the Beavers in the car park at Sissinghurst, introduced ourselves and led the excited party down to the veg patch where we had set up some fun horticultural activities for them to do. We wanted to give them an experience that would not only help them to achieve their ‘experiment’ badge but also that would get them thinking more generally about where their food comes from and the different things that plants need to grow well.
The first activity for the Beavers was to make ‘grass heads’ out of old tights filled with grass seed and sawdust. These will need to be kept watered and left in a sunny spot for their grass seed (or ‘hair’) to grow. We hope that this activity will teach them about something about the conditions that plants need in order to grow, and also to give them an amusing project to take home and look after. Here are some examples of the ones the rangers created, yet to grow hair of course:
The Beavers then played a game in which they had to work in teams to find the plants on which particular vegetables had grown. Armed with pictures of courgettes, runner beans, red cabbage, leeks and lettuce, they attempted to locate the ‘parent’ plant and extra points were given for identifying the vegetables. This proved to be a very noisy ten minutes with much running about and excited shouting when they had the correct plant in sight. I was pleasantly surprised by how many of the Beavers were able to correctly identify vegetables and the plants that they grow on.
Their final project was to ‘draw’ pictures on damp kitchen roll with cress seeds. The Beavers took their pictures away with them, to put on the windowsill, keep damp and watch their designs evolve as they grow. As an added bonus, when the seeds have grown they can then cut them and put them in their sandwiches…so the full life cycle from sowing to growing to eating can be observed.
The time we shared in the vegetable garden with the Beavers flew by and before long we returned to the car park for them to be collected, along with their grass heads and their cress pictures, to continue their experimenting with growing seeds and vegetables at home. A great time was had by all and we look forward to their next visit.
Helen – Vegetable Gardener