Gardening Play Table

Before The Boy was born, I was a keen gardener (albeit slightly lazy on the maintenance side) and I'd achieve good results. Unfortunately I haven't grown any vegetables in three years now, but this is the year to change this as The Boy is so interested in where fruit and vegetables come from and how they grow. Understanding 'the world around us' is a part of the Early Years Foundation Stage framework and I'm keen to give him activities for contextual and experiential learning as much as possible.

With this in mind, and because it was freezing and I didn't want to stand in the garden in 1ยฐC, I set up a gardening play table for him in his seconded water table.

We used:

  • seeds (carrot and peas)
  • soil
  • plastic pots (I've used the degradable compost pots before but they never seem to work very well and these are reusable)
  • a range of tools (I always provide a range of equipment whatever activity so that he learns which are the best tools for the job)
  • paper markers and a pencil (writing opportunities)

children's gardening

He was so keen to get to work and plant the seeds; we had a huge discussion about the differences between a carrot and a pea seed, why the carrot seeds didn't look like a carrot when the pea seed looked like a pea, how the plant would grown, where the vegetable would grow and how big they would be. I can't wait to see his face when the pods start to grow on the pea plants. I've always found pea plants quite high maintainence for very little result, but the look on a child's face when they pop open a pod and see the peas nestled inside is worth it.

One of the things that I was very pleased with was seeing him write the labels for the seeds. I wrote one out so he could see how to shape the letters, but as he hasn't practised many letters outside of his name before I wasn't sure he'd manage it. He studied how I wrote the letters, followed my instructions and wrote them really well. This is a great excuse to get some pre-literacy mark-making practise in without him even realising!


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  1. says

    good use of the play table – I might wait until it warms up a bit & we can go outside though..the thought of all that compost stuck between the laminate doesn't bear thinking about!

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      I've been trying to come up with different uses for the table because I was fed up of it either rolling around in the wind or being full of stagnant water! He's having great fun playing with it, and we've got lino in our kitchen so I can bear the soil!

  2. Lisa @ hollybobbs says

    I need to clean off H's play table and being it inside! What a great activity for your by though! You are so imaginative with your playtime! X

  3. says

    Great idea! I'll try to do something like this myself, thanks. I too used to grow vege before I became a Dad, & like you I just haven't been able to. But I think they're old enough now that they could enjoy joining in ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. says

    Great ideas. I set up something similar for my son in his play area outside when he was a year old…I should do it again this year now that he's three and might enjoy "writing" on plant markers. Last year I just put him to work in the garden! He pretended he was shoveling coal for his engine a lot.

  5. says

    i really want to get the boys inoto planting this year now we have a garden i just need to find out when and what we can plant now really.
    this is such a clever idea – like really great and I bet the boy had a wonderful time getting his fingers covered in soil and learning about seeds. x

  6. Erin Adrian says

    This is a FANTABULOUS idea!!! We actually just purchased one of these little tables from a consignment sale for pennies on the dollar, but didn't relish the thought of putting sand or water in it while inside, or outside for that matter due to the mosquito population explosion in our area. This is the perfect compromise and wonderful for our Lady Bug to play in and help while we plant the garden! Thanks for the great info.

  7. Sandra says

    Actually looking at this after seeing some activities being planned for alzheimers / dementia patients … this would really be a wonderful activity center for someone who had been a gardener and who still derives joy from digging in the soil, planting and watching things grow. Thank you !


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