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Sensory Garden Kit

Date: 1974
Manufacturer: Small World Enterprises


Small things and growing things attract children, perhaps because they see a reflection of their own small growing selves in relation to the larger world. Watching a plant grow from a tiny seed can hold a certain magic for a child.

The coleus plant in this kit is brightly colored, the basil has a tangy smell, the leaves of the sensitive plant withdraw when your child touches them. And the fast-growing cress is good to nibble or eat in a sandwich. By exploring these plants with eyes, nose, fingers and tongue, the child may make small discoveries for himself: He tests, in real ways, his different senses; he finds that plants, like people, are different from one another.

Plant each grow-stick, one to a pot, in dirt up to the line. Water the pots and put them in a sunny place. The cress will sprout first, in about five days. The sensitive plant takes longest, at least two weeks. Let the cress grow without trimming it, but when the other seedlings are about a half-inch high, thin them by snipping with scissors, leaving only three seedlings in each pot.

Seeds take time to sprout and grow. But even one day seems very long to a child, who may expect his seeds to sprout and grow like magic in a single night. When nothing seems to happen, it may seem to him his planting "didn't work."

If your child has a hard time waiting, you might want to sprout some faster things in the meantime. Mung beans or other beans, whole grains like wheat and alfalfa germinate in one or two days. (Unprocessed grains from a health food store are save to eat and germinate easily.) Put a layer of beans and grains in a jar. Cover the top of the jar with cheesecloth, held in place with a rubber band, and then put a plastic bag over the top. Every day rinse the beans with water right through the cheesecloth, drain it off again, and put the bag back on. Not only will the seeds sprout quickly, but your child will be able to see th shoots and the roots as they grow. The shoots can be harvested for tasty fresh bean sprouts; or the young plants can be left to grow in a miniature jungle in the jar.

Planted seedlings should be kept moist, but the watering will seem less of a chore if you choose a convenient time. If your kitchen window is sunny, keep the garden there and your child can water it at breakfast time. If he forgets the plants or chooses to ignore them, step in for a while. A hassle over being "responsible" is not worth it. Soon enough the sight of growing plants will reward you both.

© 1974 Small World Enterprises, Inc.


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