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The impact of gardening on knowledge and attitude of preschool children toward plants

Simona Kavka (2018) The impact of gardening on knowledge and attitude of preschool children toward plants. Diploma thesis.

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    Contact with nature is of great importance to a preschooler's development. In order to establish a responsible relationship with nature, the child needs to have positive experiences with living in nature. It is the foundation of effective environmental education (Kos, 2014). "Although we often talk about the positive effects and importance of contact with nature, children are more and more estranged from natural environment due to overplanning of their lives by their parents, culture of fear, and the power of technology that chains children indoors" (Clements, 2004; Louv, 2005; Waller in sod., 2010; v Kos, 2014, p. 50). In my thesis, I present preschool children with the ways and means to produce own food that is much healthier than the one we find in supermarkets as it doesn't contain preservatives, chemical additives or crop sprays that are needed for good growth and preservation of vegetables in order to transport them across the world. The preschool already possessed raised garden beds but they weren't in use. This points to lack of interest from the teachers. When I mentioned the topic of my thesis, the other teachers were excited in a way as "they didn't have to bother with it." We dusted off the beds and planted different vegetables and herbs. Together we discovered what the plants need for germination and growth, how the seeds grow, and watered them. When the vegetables were ripe, the children were happy to harvest, eat, and share them with other preschool groups. I researched children's relationship with plantlife, whether they were aware of their importance to human lives, for what purposes we use them, and assessed their level of interest and knowledge of plants. I collected the data by analyzing children's drawings and individual interviews before, immediately after, and one month after the activity. The results show that active gardening heavily improved their knowledge of importance and usability of plants, interest for gardening and other nature-related activities grew, and their attitude towards vegetables changed. Children who previously didn't eat vegetables, at the very least tried them, and some found out how delicious they can be and started eating them more. They progressed in their knowledge of different vegetable and herb sorts, their properties and uses, and also gained experience of ecological food production. Such activities in the garden promoted interdisciplinary cooperation on all levels of the curriculum, while children actively gained new knowledge, work habits, and care for outdoor plant and wildlife. The response of children and their parents was excellent and I'm very pleased to have made an impression on all visitors with our new ideas and innovative organization of our vegetable garden. They shared in our excitement, monitoring our progression, and were pleased of the good results. Co-workers were pleased as well and I hope they won't take gardening in preschool as "just more work", but that they will perceive it as an exciting opportunity for children to gain some knowledge and discover more opportunities for exploring the world around us.

    Item Type: Thesis (Diploma thesis)
    Keywords: preschool children, kindergarten, beginner's natural sciences, gardening, school garden, learning outdoors, plants
    Number of Pages: 52
    Language of Content: Slovenian
    Mentor / Comentors:
    Mentor / ComentorsIDFunction
    izr. prof. dr. Gregor TorkarMentor
    mag. Luka PraprotnikComentor
    Link to COBISS: https://plus.si.cobiss.net/opac7/bib/peflj/12120905
    Institution: University of Ljubljana
    Department: Faculty of Education
    Item ID: 5302
    Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2018 15:53
    Last Modified: 06 Sep 2018 15:53
    URI: http://pefprints.pef.uni-lj.si/id/eprint/5302

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