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Preschool Activity - Gardening and Backyard Treasure

Gardening with your children can be a wonderful experience. Here are a few tips to make this a fun experience for both of you.

--Set aside a set of "gardening clothes." If you have one set that is especially for grubbing in the dirt, then you won't constantly be throwing up your hands at the amount of laundry that builds up.
--Give your child a piece of the garden that can be their very own. Try to stay out of that area and let your child experiment. You can give gentle "suggestions" but let them be just that. Don't dictate.
--If you have more than one child, get more than one set of tools. If each child has their own set of tools, it will give them a sense of ownership and desire to achieve.
--When your child gets tired of working in the garden, send him on a treasure hunt. This is a great learning activity and also allows you more time to work in the yard while he is hunting.


Instead of just sending your preschooler outside to play, use your imagination and make his playtime more exciting by telling him a story about the people who used to live in your house before you moved in. Plan ahead before he goes out and hide a box full of treasures for him to hunt for while he is outside. Describe the former tenants, where they got their treasure, why they had to hide it and how they expected to remember where it was. (Draw a map of your yard using lines and arrows pointing to certain gardens, play equipment, picnic tables, grills, bushes, and trees.)

Before he goes hunting show him the map and go through it with words and pictures (help him think through which parts of the yard to search) and then let him go. Be available to help him puzzle through the next place to look if he comes to ask for help. This activity will help him use his imagination while he is exercising his body and he will be very excited when he finally finds the Backyard Treasure. Thinking before acting and following the directions on the map are good readiness skills young children need to practice before they go to Kindergarten. This activity provides your preschooler a fun and rewarding way to do this.

A small box that can easily be hidden
Play money
Small pieces of cheap, kids jewelry
String or tape


1. Fill the box with the treasure.
2 Tape or tie it shut so the treasure won't spill out.
3. Draw a map of your yard with trees, gardens, bushes, play equipment, etc.
4. With lines and arrows draw directions that will lead to the treasure.
5. Put an X on the spot where the treasure is hidden.
6. While your child is busy doing something else hide the treasure in your yard.
7. Tell your preschooler the story of the people who used to live in your house. If he wants to add some made up things about them, encourage him to do so.
8. Show him the map and discuss ways he might be able to find the treasure if he follows the lines and arrows
9. Let him go look as long as he wants to. Help him if he needs you to.
10. When he has successfully found the treasure help him open it and examine the contents. Tell him the treasure is his now as the folks who hid it can not be found.

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