Category Archives: Preschool activities

Preschool activities

Making Seed Tape


Store seed tape in a ziploc bag or glass jar in the fridge until ready to plant.
100 seeds for 100 days.

Have you ever tried to make a tidy row of seeds with gardening gloves on? Or with an –um– short, unskilled helper? So I’m not really that OCD to make seed tape, am I?

Anyway, if you like to keep track of what you’re planting where, and you want to encourage your kids to help you, making seed tape in advance is a great way to get started on your garden even when days are still short and cold.

Seed tape works best for small seeds that disappear in a heartbeat, like carrot, celery, kale, lettuce, etc. Larger seeds like sunflower, squash, or peas are easier to keep track of and kids have an easier time holding them, so seed tape doesn’t do much for you.

Even if you don’t have munchkins, it’s really helpful for succession planting.

Label your strips with the name of the seed, so you remember what's what.
Label your strips with the name of the seed, so you remember what’s what.

That’s the savvy gardener’s trick of planting similar quantities of something a few weeks apart, so that you have a gradual, successive harvest rather than an all-at-once-Oh-My-God-what-do-I-do-with-twenty-pounds-of-kale-in-one-week harvest.

We used this activity to accomplish something else, too. Miss H’s kindergarten class was celebrating 100 days of school by presenting collections of 100 items. We reached 100 with just six or 8 tapes, counting carrot seeds by twos. The strips had 12-16 seeds each, depending on spacing.

Miss H also labeled the strips, copying the names from the seed packets (“chives”=easy, “Lacinto Kale”=not so easy) and took all of the photos you see here, except the last one. In her Queen Maiden costume. Kids will vary widely in their ability to focus on an activity like this, so your mileage may vary.

Label your strips carefully. The right crown can help you stay focused.
Label your strips carefully. The right crown can help you stay focused.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Have your small helpers cut a newspaper (or other easily compostable paper, like grocery bags or something) into 1.5-2″ wide strips.

Use a plastic squeeze bottle for dots, or a Q-tip to spread the cornstarch goo in a line.
Use a plastic squeeze bottle for dots, or a Q-tip to spread the cornstarch goo in a line.

I accordion folded the newspaper first, which made it easier for Miss H to make straighter cuts. Happily, it really doesn’t matter if the cuts are that precise, and cutting paper to ribbons is so much fun!

2. Make a solution of 1 Tbsp Cornstarch in 1 Cup of water. Mix it well, no lumps! Then heat on the stove until just bubbling.

3. Take it off the heat and put it either in a little dish or a plastic squeeze bottle. Squeeze bottle is ideal for adults, but I didn’t have one, so I used a Q-tip. Q-tips are probably ideal for tiny hands that don’t squeeze so reliably, or if you have several assistants.

4. Read the back of the seed packet for spacing instructions, but many of these small seed plants are going to want to be 2-3″ apart before thinning. One seed packet makes a ton of tape, and not every seed will germinate, so use the spacing recommended *before* thinning. I also found it easier to pre-crease the paper down the center before I started with the cornstarch.

Use fingers or a Q-tip dipped in a little bit of cornstarch mixture to pick up a couple of seeds at a time.
Use fingers or a Q-tip dipped in a little bit of cornstarch mixture to pick up a couple of seeds at a time.

5. Lay the tape out horizontally on the wax paper in front of you. Dip your Q-tip in the cornstarch and make a gooey line down the center of the lower half of the tape, or use the squeeze bottle to make dots with the right spacing. I found it faster to make a line and approximate the spacing, but for small assistants you could make the dots for them and they could match the seeds to the dots.

6. Put 2-3 seeds per dot.

7. Fold the top half of the tape down over the bottom half, to “glue” the seeds into the center of the tape.

8. Label the tape with the type of seeds.

9. Store them in a ziploc bag or sealed glass jar in the fridge. I stuck the packets in the bags as well, so I could remember some of the later-season instructions. Since I’m going to be comparing different varieties in my garden, I will probably use the packets to label rows later as well.

Put a couple of seeds in each dot. Follow the directions on the seed packet for spacing.
Put a couple of seeds in each dot. Follow the directions on the seed packet for spacing.

10. Let your assistants plant a few tapes each week for a successive harvest all summer long!

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Preschool at Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve


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What an extraordinary day we had exploring Russian Ridge! One of our member families lives up near the ridge and suggested a wheeled toy outing. So all the kids brought their scooters/trikes/bikes/push cars and we circled the lake.

The sun was out and the sky was absolutely beautiful–you feel like you’re right up in it, on the spine of the ridge. Quite cold, though–all the kids were wearing boots and multiple layers of shirts, sweaters, and wind shells. After visiting the grinding rocks where Ohlone women gathered to process their acorns into flour, we decided to head upward toward the sun.

The path around the lake is perfect for bikes and trikes, wide and relatively flat. The trail back up to the parking area from the grinding rocks was a little more eroded, but the kids did just fine. We crossed the road back to the lot and the kids decided to explore up the hill. After they all decided to roll down the hill, there was some quick tick-checking, and then a couple of us decided to explore further up the ridge.

The ridge trail was great for preschool age. Might have been a little steep and long for toddler, but the lake trail seemed to work great for the younger ones.

Winter Weed Nature Study


I can’t wait until Helen’s old enough to start a nature study journal–this Handbook of Nature Study entry reminded me of the encounter we had with the little milkmaid by the side of the road the other day. The process of drawing a plant is really the best way to remember it, and to capture a memory of a moment in time in the life of a child at the same time. What unique keepsakes these journals must be!

Hunting for sea monsters!


It might be a terrible winter for the ski resorts, but the gorgeous weather meant it was a perfect day to play at the beach!

I signed up to host our Preschool in the Woods play group at the beach this week. After our opening song, I read a book called Stone Girl Bone Girl,
about a little girl named Mary Anning, who discovered a “sea monster” fossil in Lyme Regis in the early 1800’s, when she was only 12. It turned out to be the first Ichthyosaur fossil, and she went on to discover many more. I never had the dinosaur bug as a kid, but Miss H sure has it. It is unbelievable how difficult it is to find girly dinosaur stuff!

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As soon as the story was over, the kids charged off to find some sea monsters in the dunes. They did not discover any new fossils, but they did find this:

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So it was a little while before we were ready to come home!

A Wildlife Tree


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Today for Preschool in the Woods, the kids decorated a little pine tree with the ornaments we made a few weeks ago. This activity was an idea from one of the parents based on a book called Night Tree.

Materials included popcorn, cranberries, dried orange slices, bay leaves, fresh walnuts in the shell, and collected pine cones the kids smeared with vegetable shortening and rolled in birdseed. The kids did all the hanging, and of course spent plenty of time hanging out in the tree as well.