Many things grow and change, but the process can be slow -- at least as far as a toddler is concerned. Teach your little one about the amazing process of growth with fast-growing plants or the remarkable butterfly. Including your child in each step of the process will increase his comprehension and awareness.
Radishes will grow from seed to crop in about four weeks -- pretty speedy in the world of gardening. Teach your toddler about growing vegetables with this easy to grow seed. Plant radish seeds in your garden or a container inside the house. Help your little one plant the seeds individually and lightly cover with soil. Give her a watering can and ask her to water the seeds. Encourage her to check on the seeds daily, watering as the soil gets dry. Involving your child in each step of the growing process will help her to understand how a seed grows into a plant. Harvest the radishes with your child as they are ready. Eat them together for a healthy snack. You may be surprised what your child will eat and enjoy when she is involved in the process.
Sprouting beans can show your toddler exactly how a seed turns into a plant. The beans sprout outside of the soil, allowing your child to observe the process firsthand. Sprout any type of dried bean. Allow your child to examine and feel the beans -- this can also be an ideal sensory activity. Give your child a spray bottle full of water and ask him to spray a paper towel until it is damp. Ask your child to put a small handful of the dried beans on the paper towel. Help him to fold it so the beans are surrounded with the wet towel. Put the folded towel inside a plastic sandwich bag and tape it to the window. Talk to your toddler about what plants need -- sunlight and water. Do his beans have everything they need? Every few days, open up the paper towel and check on the beans. How are they changing and growing? Keep the paper towel moist. When the beans have sprouted, plant them in a container to continue the learning.
Growing grass is another simple way to show your toddler how things grow. Plant grass seeds in a large shallow container. Plastic storage containers work well and are usually inexpensive. Use a nail or drill to add drainage holes at the bottom. Encourage your child to take care of her grass seeds. Are they getting enough water and sunlight? Toddlers love to take charge and help. Once the grass grows, you can use it for other activities with your toddler. Put toy animals in the grass and encourage her to play. Or give her kids' scissors and let her cut the grass to develop fine motor skills through play.
Go beyond plants and explore the remarkable growth process of a butterfly with your toddler. The growth from egg, to caterpillar, to chrysalis, to butterfly, is sure to delight your toddler. There are many books available to teach your child about the butterfly's metamorphosis -- "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle is a favorite with young children. Or consider purchasing a live butterfly kit to observe the process firsthand. Kits are available through a variety of websites, including Insect Lore and Nature Gift Store. They include live caterpillars, food and a habitat. Your toddler can watch the caterpillars complete their transformation and then help you release them in the yard.