10 Ways Gardening Can Improve Communication, Fine Motor, & Gross Motor Skills

Preparing to garden is a great time for asking/answering questions (what should we plant?), vocabulary development (types of flowers, gardening tools), problem solving (where is the best place to plant a garden) and articulation skills (which flowers/plants have our speech sound).

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A wheelbarrow can be used to help develop large-motor control, concepts such as in/out, up/down, empty/full can be targeted while moving piles of dirt or mulch.

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Digging in the dirt with a shovel (big or small), hoe or hands is great for large motor control, fine motor skills such as gripping, sensory exploration and asking/answering questions (what is in the dirt?, how does it feel?)

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Pulling weeds is a chore that no one wants to do but can help promote hand strength, postural stability, and following directions.

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Watering plants can help develop large muscle control and balance when carrying watering cans, fine motor strength is needed to turn on/off the water and squeeze the nozzle of the hose. Sensory exploration and language growth can be targeted too by discussing what happens to the soil when it is watered, how water helps plants grow and how to know the correct amount of water to use.

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Planting seeds is great for developing a pincer grip, eye hand coordination, number concepts (how many seeds go in a hole), comparing seed size, color and shape, and postural stability.

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Picking plants helps focus attention on fine motor control (how hard do you need to pull) and postural stability, scissor skills can also be taught if you choose to cut the stems rather than pull them. This is also a great time to compare and contrast the plants (height, color, size, weight, etc).

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Many social skills can also be developed during gardening. Special attention can be given to turn taking, requesting, and sharing opinions.

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Creating garden markers is a wonderful way to target many skills such as fine motor development and pincer grips needed for writing/drawing, spelling skills and vocabulary can also be focused on during this time.

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Planting a vegetable garden can also promote diet exploration. Research has shown that when kids are involved in all aspects of preparing foods (from growing to cooking) they are more willing to try new foods.