Help your child to enhance his math skills with this ongoing graphing project. The growing garden pictograph is a fun, simple way to learn about the scientific method, discover nature, and explore counting concepts all while creating a unique work of art.
If you do not have a large area of land or an established garden, you can still try this activity with your child. Consider starting a small garden in your yard, a container garden, or even simply growing one plant indoors. You can even pay some visits to a community garden as well!
What You Do:
- Discuss gardens and the growing cycle with your child. It may be helpful to read a picture or non-fiction book about plants and gardening.
- Choose at least one plant to grow with your child. Let him pick (with some guidance from you). Depending on your region/climate, time of year, and availability of growing space, you may want to limit the plant selection. Also, you can decide if you would like to grow from seed or not.
- Help your child to plant his choice in the garden (or container).
- Using a dark marker and a straight edge, help your child to create a graph on the poster board. Make each cell in the graph large enough to fit a picture inside.
- Choose what you want the rows and columns to represent. Some examples are weather, temperature, plant size, season, or times watered.
- Watch the plant(s) grow! Ask your child to fill in the cells with pictures that represent what you are measuring. For plant size, have him observe how the small plant gets bigger, then try to draw what he sees. For weather, you can have him draw a sun, clouds, or a rain drop.
At the end of the growing season, look at the pictograph as a whole. Ask your child to create a conclusion based on what he has graphed. This should involve counting the pictures. Questions to discuss might include, “How many times did it rain?” and “Did this effect how big the plant grew?" At the end of this project, your child will have a better understanding of graphing and plant life cycles, and moreover, he'll have spent some fun and productive time outside exploring nature!
Erica Loop has a MS in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education. She has many years of teaching experience working in early childhood education, and as an arts educator at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.