Garden in a Boot
A quirky and charming activity for any budding gardener!
This sweet little garden grows within a tiny boot (6cm x 9.5cm x 8cm). Each coloured boot contains a different set of seeds - Peppermint in the Blue Boot and Strawberry in the Red Boot.
The Garden in a Boot set arrives with the ceramic boot itself, two peat discs, a packet of seeds and instructions. The child then follows the steps to plant the seeds...and then carries on the process of tending to them as time goes on! See below for more details about how the activity can be presented.
The Garden in a Boot is a beautiful addition to any classroom or home but it also makes a wonderful gift. It's the perfect little token for a child to receive - or to give! If a child receives the Garden in a Boot then he or she is given an engaging and eco-friendly gift that continues to grow with each passing day. If a child gives the gift it is a beautiful gesture that symbolises the child's growing love for the recipient. For instance, a child might give this to mum or dad for Mother's Day or Father's Day. The gift then provides an interactive activity for the parent and child to perform together...and then mum or dad can take the Boot to sit on their office desk to look at the growing symbol of love each day! The child might also inscribe his or her name on the ceramic boot and could even decorate it (such as with paint or a miniature mosaic).
The Garden in a Boot certainly makes the ideal indoor plant because it is so portable! Many parents and teachers will know that it can be challenging to keep indoor plants happy and healthy as it can be cumbersome to move them to receive sunlight. The child can also be independently responsible for ensuring that the Garden in a Boot receives the sunlight it needs as it can be easily transferred from one place to another.
In my classroom I enjoy presenting the Garden in a Boot as the perfect opportunity for extending our explorations of Botany and promoting meaningful fine motor work. In addition to the pieces of the Garden in a Boot set (boot, peat discs, seeds) I also introduce several utensils - a syringe (a pipette could also be used) and a small spoon.
The child (or group of children!) start by placing the peat discs into the boot. The peat pellets are condensed initially so it is vital that the child expands the discs after placing them in the boot but before adding the seeds. To do this the child collects some water (in our case we used a glass vessel) and transfers this into the boot (we used a syringe but the child could also use a pipette or simply pour the water from a jug). The advantages of using a tool (such as a syringe/pipette) rather than a jug is that it provides the opportunity for several children to take a turn of preparing the garden. Once the discs start to absorb the water they begin to soften and expand. The child can then use a tool, such as a small spoon, to gently agitate the expanding discs to help loosen it. Once it is loose the child can pour the seeds into the soil before packing away and washing the utensils that have been used and finding a position in the room to place the boot. Over time the child (or children) observe the growth of the garden and tend to its need.
The presence of such a small plant provides the perfect opportunity for a child to use small Practical Life tools such as syringes and pipettes on an ongoing basis. Larger plants (in pots or in garden beds) require the use of a watering can, which is great for gross motor coordination but does not provide much of an opportunity for small, refined movements of the hands. The Garden in a Boot can't be watered by a can (well, it could but there would be a very big puddle on the floor afterwards!) and instead requires the use of tiny tools. The child can use a pipette, syringe or tiny jug to transfer the water into the garden to help cultivate it towards healthy growth.
If a child is particularly drawn to the beauty of the miniature Boot garden then why not expand on the idea with real boots in the outdoor environment...
Gum boots offer an unusual but aesthetically attractive option for planters or vases! Children so quickly outgrow their old shoes and it seems wasteful to simply throw them away. Creating a gum-boot garden provides an eco-friendly solution to prevent some of that waste. Instead of throwing away plastic gum boots they can be reused to decorate and nurture a growing garden!
(Please note: the reason that gum boots work for this purpose is that they are water-tight. Other shoes, unfortunately, will not provide an effective planter/vase.)