Gardening (with Scissors!): Fine Motor Skills and Hand-Eye Coordination

[This is the first of a series of photo posts about food, farms and forests! Starting with gardening this week, in following weeks will be on strawberry picking at a nearby farm and A Living Family forest/nature play. Hope you enjoy seeing some more of our outdoor fun and having lots of your own fun with your family!]

I have been gardening lately.

This means that every day I head out there and check on things. Sometimes weeding, sometimes building a trellis for peas or cucumbers, or relocating a plant.

Many times my daughter is with me in the garden. In fact, she often suggests we go out side and “check and see how our garden is doing.” In this way, she’s been around when I’m doing this and that. I am grateful that she is learning about food and where it comes from, how seeds grow and how to take care of the earth.

After an initial learning process…and by that I mean my own learning to shut my mouth and let her try to do something that is difficult. Things went better after I learned to value the end result of a love of gardening, working with her hands, or being outside over the immediate goal of the little task in front of me.

I now know that the best time to garden is any time I can get baby in a sling on my back. The gardening I do is quick, if I do a bit every day. Then I take advantage of help with my daughter (or –dare I hope– my son napping as well) so I can do some more intensive activities.

Here are some shots of work my daughter has helped me with in the garden.

This was one of the first days. Finally putting our seeds in. A bit late, but at least I got them in there! The alternative was no garden….

She chose those boots for gardening. We/I usually go barefoot in the garden. Like when I was a child….

Getting into the digging…

Turning the soil….

I wanted to plant some lettuce. Couldn’t really find a good spot. Chose one I thought would work, but one of my dogs jumps up into it if it’s on the ground and she needs to get out of the way. (She’s athletic like that.) I was disappointed. Still, I got all my worst mothering moments out when gardening with these seeds. Lesson learned.

Fill with soil….

Spread the soil around evenly….

Poke holes in the soil.

Put seeds (one or two) in each hole.

We went from having no garden to check on to an eager energy before we spy those green leaves and see what the elements have created for us since the day before. Every day there is something new in a garden!

“Mama, let’s go outside and see how my peas are doing!”

Wow. Peas grow fast! (Moose takes a peek.)

Peas are good for children’s gardening because they are quick to grow and fun to pick!). Soon her peas needed to be trellised. I realized when I was getting out the scissors (and she was asking repeatedly to cut) that she could do this.

Unroll the twine…

Cut the twine.

Tie a knot. Thread it through “like your sewing block” (an “aha” moment for us both).

Grab the end and pull it through.

Pull it tight!

I like that we have one bed that she can climb in (for now) because I left lots of room for the melon vines to spread.

Pulling weeds

At one point, I really needed to get something done and had the idea to ask her to take pictures. This worked out because I wanted to have a picture of baby in the podaegi, and she loves to take pictures.

View from my daughter’s perspective (babywearing in the podaegi)

Child’s proud picture of her peas?

Simply through natural needs, there was another cutting job, this time with daddy. It was amazing to watch how careful and focused she was when cutting. She even told her daddy about safety measures, such as “wait till mama tells you it’s time for scissors.” (This came up that first time because I didn’t want open scissors flailing around while I got the twine ready to cut.)

Helping daddy net the Asian pear tree and apple tree (so we don’t lose the goodness to the critters).

Some time in there, I was playing with my daughter when she saw scissors and asked to cut. We hadn’t cut as an activity in a while. I got her a piece of her painting paper and was shocked when she held the paper in one hand and cut with the other. I had never seen her do that, and she hadn’t really cut anything for months.

Hold with one hand, cut with the other

Then, it was time to pick leaves off the basil seedlings I got from the garden center (my basil seeds didn’t do so well). She was so careful and cooperative with the basil picking.

I knew, too, the oregano was long over due for cutting. When I went to grab the scissors, I thought of my daughter. Sure enough, she followed me out and asked to cut.

I watched in awe as she smoothly opened the scissors with two hands to prepare them for her hand. Then she deftly grab the plant, held it out of the way and guided her scissors down the stalk to the cutting place. I didn’t know she had gotten so comfortable with cutting. I don’t feel like she does it that much, but it has always been an interest of hers.

Cutting oregano

She learned how to hold what she is cutting in one hand and the scissors in the other, though she still preps the scissors for her hand.

“I know how to cut!”

I have been feeling so blessed. To have time to work in the garden. To have the opportunity to share that nurturing of life with my daughter. To work and live and learn together.

To watch her skills grow as our plants do….until they are ready to eat!

One response to this post.

  1. […] Nature Play! Strawberry Picking Gardening with Children (and Scissors!) Builds Fine Motor Skills […]


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