As parents we want to see the sense of wonder on our children’s faces as they discover new things and make connections. Gardening is a wonderful way to foster our children’s natural curiosity. Gardening provides wonderful opportunities for children to learn and will enhance the skills in many subject areas covered in their schooling.
From Seed To Stomach: Growing A Pizza Garden
Children love pizza! By growing a pizza garden you will be providing your children with the opportunity to learn in different subject areas.
You will also be able to use your produce to make a healthy version of a pizza at home.
Children can learn about nature and how the plants we eat grow and what we need to do to nurture them. If space allows designate an area in your yard for a pizza garden. You may wish to try container gardening instead if the weather or space is an issue. Your children can grow all the vegetables and spices they will need to make their pizza sauce and their favorite toppings. The plot can be either a traditional square or circular in the shape of a pizza pie with each triangle or ‘slice’ designated for a different vegetable or herb.
Give each child a black outline world map with all of the countries listed on it. They will be able to find out where each vegetable and spice you will be planting is from and locate it on the map. Have your children color in the country and write the name of the vegetable or spice on their maps as well.
Incorporate some Math while you make your Pizza Garden. For younger children the garden will provide them with wonderful opportunities to count, compare sizes, and measure. You could conduct your own math mini-lessons before each task your children will need to perform. For example, before they dig up the spot for their garden conduct a mini-lesson on area and perimeter or the circumference of a circle. Before harvesting your crops a mini-lesson on measurement would be applicable.
When the garden has matured have children measure the height of each plant and then create a graph to show the results. (Allow younger children to measure using plastic fishing worms or gummy worms instead of a traditional measuring device.) A mini-lesson on measuring and quantities would be helpful while making your sauce.
Research and Writing
Assign each child one of the vegetables or spices that is to be planted in your pizza garden. Their task is to research it and become experts on its characteristics and specific growing needs. You may want to provide your children with a checklist to help guide them as they conduct their research. Each child could also be responsible for planting and tending to their assigned vegetable or herb.
There are many wonderful books and games about pizza and gardening. So stock your library with both fictional and non-fiction stories. Depending on the abilities of your children you may choose to read these aloud to them or place them somewhere prominent in your house for them to read on their own.
Plan a trip to your local pizza place and plant nursery. Your children may also wish to develop their own sauces and pizza recipes which can then be compiled into a family pizza cookbook. Invite your friends and family for a pizza luncheon so your children can show off their gardening accomplishments.
A pizza garden is just one of countless gardening themes you can use to motivate your children to learn about the natural world around them and have some fun in the process. May you find you have a green thumb!
Pizza Garden Instructions
Here are the basic instructions for growing an outdoor pizza garden.
If you have the space to plant your pizza garden outside then it is very clever to plant it in a circle like a real pizza pie. Before choosing a spot to plant your garden make sure it gets plenty of sun.
Step 1: A hula hoop, a shovel, fertilizer, a stake, and string.
Step 2: Instruct students to dig up the soil inside of their hula hoop and mix the topsoil with their fertilizer.
Step 3: Once they have prepared the soil explain they are to place the stake in the middle of the hula hoop and then divide the hoop into six equal sections. They are to tie the string to the stake as well as the hoop.
Step 4: Once you have checked their work hand out the seeds or the vegetables and herbs you have chosen. An example of how they should be planted is shown below. It is important that the tomatoes be placed in the back of the garden so they do not overshadow the other plants.
Step 5: Give each child six popsicle sticks and a permanent marker to identify where each plant is located.
Step 6: Water the garden thoroughly with a light spray so the seeds are not disrupted.
Visit your garden for a few minutes every day so your children have the opportunity to tend to their gardens. Have your children keep a gardening journal and record the progress of their pizza gardens using illustrations and words.
Have them take a picture of their garden on Monday and Friday of each week to add to their journals.
The final step is the most difficult of all…waiting for your vegetables to arrive!
Here are some more great tips on Gardening With Children.