Tuesday, September 13, 2011

From Dirt to Dinner - Kids in the Garden

Getting kids into dirt is no trick at all.  It’s certainly easier than getting them into their pajamas.  No cajoling or stern looks required.  Accomplishing something productive and educational while they’re there requires a bit of strategy.

A challenge of this complexity requires a plan of attack.  Whilst perusing the displays at my beloved Limestone Library, I found the perfect resource for just such a situation.  Playing on children's love for all things dirty and yummy, Grow It Cook It, by DK Publishing, instills the value of vegetation without so much as one boring lecture.  If you’ve ever picked up a DK book, you know that their signature strength is amazing photography.  They utilize it in this gardening-cookbook hybrid to entrance both mom and munchkin alike.  From page one, the kids are in charge – from seed to supper.  

The book opens with a creative primer on plants.  Birds and bees, pollination and seeds, protection and disease: all the plant basics are demonstrated through pictures or dynamic illustrations.  Tucked amongst them are enough creative tips and trivia to help even a hardened old horticulturist find their inner child.  
Their creative repurposing of containers will have your kids running around the house, looking for anything fun that could hold dirt. 

Fifteen crops are featured, including fruits, vegetables, greens and herbs.  Each one's life cycle is explained simply, from planting, to growing, then harvesting and finally devouring!  Dazzling photography and terrific tips detail each step.

The harvest culminates in the recipe page.  Ingredients are labeled by icon, and each recipe is geared with a child's appetite for imagination in mind.  The menu boasts (among other things) a giant beanstalk stirfry, miniature pumpkin pies, a rainbow salad with home-made star-shaped croutons and blueberry cheesecake cups.  Kids will be too busy stuffing their faces to realize that they've just engaged in an educational activity.  And what exactly have they learned?  Just a little bit about patience, perspiration and pay-off.  

It is certainly too late to begin any of the projects this season, but Christmas is just coming into view.  Truth be told, my kids would groan at the sight of a gardening book tucked beneath the tree.  They can't yet see past the glitter of Lego and Polly Pocket.  So, consider Grow It Cook It my recommendation for creative mom and teacher gifts this year.  At an affordable $10-$12, the price is right.

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