This past spring and summer, our focus has been gardening. We garden every year but this year I bought new planters, a small greenhouse and gardening tools with my YoungStar grant. The entire focus was on allowing the children to do the whole process from planning, planting, maintenance, harvesting as well as eating and sharing the foods. This post is about hosting a preschool garden party which was our celebration at the end of the gardening season. Last year I wrote about Hosting a Preschool Art Show. Our Garden Party was a similar event – a family picnic with a theme to share what we’ve been working on and learning about at preschool.
First, some of our decorations. Our painted birdhouses hanging in the tree on display along with the bird feeders:
A few vases of colorful flowers:
A photo display of planting seeds, plants, exploring the garden and harvesting:
Parents saw most of these pictures online already but a photo display helps everyone look back and remember the gardening process and how involved every child was in our garden. The photo display is a simple, quick and inexpensive addition to any event. I stapled ribbons to the deck and used small clips to hang the photos. I was able to do this hours in advance – the photos didn’t blow away despite a light breeze. The photos are cell phone pics I had printed at Walgreens using their one hours service for about $15.00 I added the photos to the child porfoilios after the party.
Documenting the work children do is an important way of communicating and involving families.
The party space in our backyard – all mowed, trimmed, organized, decorated and ready for the Garden Party!
The children helped set out the tables and chairs as well as clean the picnic tables and put away toys.
Each child decorated a bird house. Birds are an important part of the garden.
Beads, ribbons, and shells strung on yarn to decorate the garden.
Following the garden theme, I used clay pots to hold green plasticware, like plants in a pot. I hot glued a piece of ribbon around each one and added a chalkboard clip (from Michael’s dollar bins) on each pot. Simple detail but cute!
All of the families came! Events like our garden party promote the sense of community and build excitement for our program.
It gives parents time to spend with their child in their world, the opportunity to get to know other parents better and enjoy time together.
My awesome hubby grilled all the brats, burgers and hot dogs. We kept them hot in a Nesco. Families were asked to bring sides and to focus mostly on fruits and vegetables to keep with the healthy, garden theme. They cooperated so nicely on that! We had a great variety of foods.
While waiting for families to arrive and the food to be ready, we had a Garden Scavenger Hunt. The children along with their parents were to look for the items around the yard and mark the box when they found each one. Each item included an activity. The scavenger hunt was a hit!
The purpose was not only to give the families something to do but for them to find all the plants an explore our garden space. It allowed the children to show what they know about the garden and plants too! They know where the mint and thyme are!
Looking at the rose bush and checking for thorns.
Marking off mint and adding some to a water bottle.
Talking about zinnias, sunflowers, tomatoes and green beans.
A cup of lemonade while working on the scavenger hunt.
I made garden markers for most of the plants in our yard. Not everyone knows the names of plants and I wanted to highlight everything we have growing.
Our lemon thyme and mint come up on their own each year. Low maintenance and lovely for the children to explore because they are strongly scented. They often use pieces of the plants in the sand kitchen.
We have so much mint! It spreads rapidly so be prepared to pull some out or share with others.
No matter what the theme of our family events, I like to include art because it’s such a big part of my program and learning. Each child painted a flower or two on cardboard flower shapes. A parent donated a stack of square cardboard pieces from scrapbooking paper kits so this is how we used some of it. I took their photos (super quick, one or two clicks each and printed them on my printer.) We glued them to the center of the flowers. Using Word, I made the “We are growing!” letters, printed them on colored cardstock and laminated them for durability.
When I was stapling these flowers up I couldn’t help but think what beautiful children these are. We’re celebrating their growth as much as the garden’s!
I tried to keep things simple. One thing I wanted to have was lemonade. The children were so excited to have lemonade! Small bottles of water were also available.
I bought the drink dispenser at Hobby Lobby with one of their 40% off coupons so it was a good deal!
The night before I froze lemonade in ice cube trays with a raspberry and a mint leaf in each one. So pretty and tasty as it melted into the lemonade! Freezing lemonade cubes prevented the lemonade from getting watered down and eliminated the need of ice cubes.
Our food table all set up: tuna pasta salad, jello squares, berry salads, watermelon, roasted potatoes and roasted vegetables, raw veggies and dip, creamy cucumber salad, Bite-Sized Caprese Appetizers and more.
A lovely and healthy meal to encourage children and families to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Popsicles, Jello and strawberry shortcake for dessert.
Our mushrooms from our camping theme were also on display.
Flowers in fun “preschool colors”.
Families enjoying the party.
Such good sports, seated at this tiny table! Made me smile!
Each child went home with some gummy worms.
Another successful family event! Summer picnics are a great way for us to get together and I see it as an event I will host year after year with a different theme. It’s so rewarding for me as a provider, the families, and the children. Be sure to read my tips for hosting preschool family engagement events.