Exploring Nature in Preschool: 9 Garden and Plant Activities

Discover preschool plant activities and nature themes to incorporate into your curriculum.

Exploring Nature in Preschool: 9 Garden and Plant Activities

preschool plant activities

Caring for plants is one of the most fascinating ways to teach preschoolers about the natural world. By exposing them to simple activities, you teach them about our planet and help them develop an interest in nature. Planting activities also help develop social skills in children. For instance, by working together to plant and care for a garden, children learn to cooperate, communicate, and work collaboratively. Planting also requires the use of fine motor skills such as dexterity and hand-eye coordination. These skills help children develop their motor control and coordination, which can benefit their school readiness.

Additionally, when children learn about planting and growing plants, they develop a relationship with nature. This ultimately helps them appreciate the natural world and all the creatures that live in it. This appreciation can extend beyond the classroom and into their everyday lives. As they grow older, they may start to garden or take up other hobbies that involve nature. 

These plant activities are both fun and educational for children, and they’re a great way to introduce them to the world of plants and nature as a whole. Exploring the natural world is also a wonderful way to engage families in the curriculum and create a home-to-school connection. For example, you can invite families to do a scavenger hunt and nature walk with the class.

child gardening with teacher


What are the benefits of planting activities for preschoolers?

Enhances cognitive and fine motor development 

The process of planting, watering, and harvesting helps to nurture and develop coordination and strength in children’s hands and fingers. Children learn about their textures, shapes, and sizes by touching and exploring plants. This tactile experience helps to develop their motor skills. The act of planting also has cognitive benefits. It helps them to develop problem-solving and planning skills as they consider the best way to care for our plants. 

Promotes social-emotional development

When children engage in activities like planting seeds, caring for a plant, and observing the plant grow, they learn important skills like cooperation, empathy, and responsibility. These social-emotional skills are important for children to learn in order to be successful in school. 

Introduces children to the world of science 

Plants are a great way to introduce children to the world of science. You can talk about the life cycle of plants, what plants need to grow (water, light, soil, etc.), and how plants help us in our everyday lives. Engaging in these activities with children, helps them develop a love for learning and discovery.

Encourages a healthy lifestyle

Gardening and planting activities give teachers the chance to teach children about the importance of fruits and vegetables in their diet. They can teach children where food comes from, how to grow their own food, and the importance of eating a balanced diet. As a result, they develop a greater appreciation for healthy foods. 

Enhances children’s creativity

When it comes to creativity, plants are a great starting point because they have so much variety. You can use various plants to deepen children’s observations by discussing the textures, shapes, and colors of plants in ways that go beyond "this is green'' or "this is blue." You can talk about whether the texture of a leaf is smooth or bumpy, for example. 

In addition, children could create collages, pattern designs, or pictures using leaves and flowers, which encourages them to experiment and think outside the box. All these skills help foster a creative approach to problem-solving and thinking, which can benefit all areas of their development.

May reduces stress 

A recent study found that activities involving plants in preschool help to reduce children's stress levels. The study found that children who participated in activities like planting and caring for plants showed lower stress levels than they did before participating in any planting activity. 

Moreover, gardening is therapeutic and provides an opportunity to get fresh air, further reducing stress levels. So, if your children exhibit any signs of stress, spend some time with them in the garden.

Teaches responsibility, hard work, and patience

By taking care of a garden, children learn the importance of hard work by seeing how their efforts result in healthy plants. They also learn to be patient while waiting for their plants to grow.

Planting activities and themes for preschoolers

Here are some ideas for plant-themed activities that your preschoolers will love:

Plant a seed


Two children. One planting a seed and the other watering it.


Children love and enjoy playing with textures, and this helps stimulate their sense of touch, sight, and smell, and they’ll enjoy this sensory activity of planting and watering seeds. This activity will also help them develop their motor skills, and strengthen their hand-eye coordination. Once they start to sprout, watch them grow together and talk about how plants need water and sunlight to thrive. This is a great way to bond with the children and teach them about the wonders of nature. 

Make leaf rubbings 


color leaf printing with one hand holding a blue crayon


Here is a simple step-by-step process to help you make leaf rubbings with your children:

  • Collect leaves from trees and shrubs. Choose leaves with different shapes and textures.
  • Place the leaf on a flat surface.
  • Cover the leaf with a piece of paper.
  • Rub a crayon or pencil over the leaf using light pressure.
  • Remove the leaf to see the rubbing.
  • Repeat steps 3-4 until you have the desired result.

The result will be a beautiful piece of art and an exciting science lesson for your children to enjoy in the classroom. By doing a leaf rubbing, your children will be able to see the different veins in the leaves and how they are arranged. This project will pique their curiosity about how plants grow and thrive.

Go for a nature walk


Two children in a garden


Explore your neighborhood, community garden, or local park with your children and see how many different types of plants you can spot. Can you find flowers, trees, bushes, and grasses? See if you can identify them by their leaves or flowers. This is also a great opportunity to discuss the importance of caring for our green spaces.

Nature collages


Nature items' collage held by a young girl


To make a nature collage, you’ll need different leaves, flowers, rocks, and other natural materials. Once you have your materials, arrange them on a piece of paper or canvas and glue or tape them to create a beautiful design. Experiment with different arrangements and patterns. Nature collages make beautiful and unique pieces of artwork and are a fun way to connect with nature.

Play with play dough


Flower craft with play dough


Playing with play dough is a great way to develop children’s fine motor skills and also encourage them to use their imaginations and be creative. And what could be more fun than designing your own play dough flower garden? Simply, provide glitter foam flowers in different colors and craft sticks. Draw the sun on yellow paper and stick everything together. Ask children to get creative arranging their flowers in the play dough. 

Garden math


Young child counting flowers in a garden


If the weather is favorable, take your children out in the garden to practice their counting skills. One way is to have them count the petals on a flower. Another is to have them count the sets of leaves on a vine. Many other things in the garden can also be counted, which will help them develop their math skills. 

Read books about plants 


Teacher reading to three kids


There are so many children's books that can be read during circle time to teach about planting. Some of these books include:

These colorful picture books are perfect for teaching children about different types of plants and how they grow. The stories from these books will keep children engaged from the beginning to the end with beautiful illustrations.

Sing songs about plants


Young children sitting in a circle singing a song with a teacher


Singing songs is a powerful way to teach children about growing plants and flowers in an engaging and meaningful way. Songs are fun, easy to remember, and can offer a great science lesson in a matter of minutes. Here’s a great song to introduce to the children during circle time to get you started.  

Seed art 


black and yellow sunflower seed art


Seed art is a fun and easy way for children to create beautiful works of art. All you need are seeds and glue. Here's how to create seed art: 

  • Collect your materials. You'll need seeds of different sizes and colors, glue, and a piece of paper or cardboard. 
  • Decide on a design. You can create any design, from a simple sunflower to a complicated scene. 
  • Glue the seeds in place. Start with the largest seeds and work your way to the smallest. 
  • Let the glue dry and display your seed art.

Frequently asked questions about planting (FAQs)

Here are the answers to some common questions about plant activities for preschool:

Why is it important for preschoolers to learn about plants?

Teaching about plants to preschoolers is important for several reasons. For one, plants are a major food source for humans and other animals. By learning about plants, preschoolers understand how the food they eat grows. Additionally, plants play a vital role in the environment, providing oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide. As such, preschoolers develop a greater appreciation for the natural world and the importance of preserving it.

What kind of plants would be best for teaching about plants to preschoolers?

Succulents are easy to care for and can thrive from anywhere. They’re also a great size for small hands to handle. Another type of plant that would be great for preschoolers is a Venus flytrap. Venus flytraps are fun to watch and teach children about carnivorous plants. Sunflowers, radishes, and beans are also easy to grow from seeds. 

When is the best time to teach children about plants?

You can teach about plants either in summertime or spring, as long as the weather is warm enough to go outside. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide when to introduce this topic. However, starting early in the year, during the springtime, might be a good idea so that children plant their gardens and watch their plants grow throughout the season.

How can I make planting fun for preschoolers?

Use bright and colorful materials that will capture children’s attention. Use hands-on activities that will allow them to get involved and learn through experience. Finally, keep these activities short, simple, and age-appropriate. By making the activities relevant to their interests, they’ll be more engaged and excited to learn about the science of plants.

Final thoughts

Preschool plant activities connect children with nature and help them learn about botany, notice the seasonal changes in plants, expand their minds, and improve their overall cognitive development. Include garden and plant themed activities in your curriculum all year round to keep your preschoolers engaged while you instill a love for nature.

Subscribe to the brightwheel blog