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Flowers and the Frog

Guest blogger: Tammie Vail Shoultz-McCole, MA

Grandma Great always had a flower garden no matter where she lived. I remember, as a young child, helping to plant, tend, and then harvest the garden foods that we would later eat. At her house there were two sections set aside for flowers, one in the front and one on the side where there was more shade. Over the summer and fall we would clip and placed the flowers in a vase with a frog at the bottom. If you are wondering about what type of frog would be in a vase, this frog is a special object made to support the flowers in the vase. Look closely at picture of the flowers and the vase and you can see the “frog” in the bottom of the vase. Grandma Great had a few different sizes that had different amounts of holes

This was a great exploration activity for me regarding early counting skills. We would count the number of holes. Then go out to the flower beds to find that number of different types of flowers to cut and bring inside. As I placed the flower stems into the holes I my understanding of numbers and one-to-one correspondence developed in a positive way. There were not red marks on a paper if I had the wrong amount, simply extra flowers that would need a different vase. Sometime there would be too few and together we would figure out how many more were needed. This type of self correction made it easy for me to understand the one-to-one relationships between the number of holes and the number of flowers

I spent many hours arranging and then re-arranging flowers in the frog. The number of flowers always remained the same when I filled up all of the holes. As a young child this surprised me because young children are starting to learn that the number of items remain the same even when you rearrange item in several different ways.

From the time I opened my child care until it closed, there were at least 2 flower pots with flower plants in the outside play area. This allowed for a wide variety of exploration and discussion. Some of the favorite activities that the children completed were:

  • Counting seeds, creating a hole in the dirt, placing a seed, then covering it up.
  • Measuring out the water that would be given to the plant in a plastic measuring cup.
  • Marking on the calendar the days that we watered the flowers and the days where the soil was moist so we did not need to.
  • Placing a ruler next to the plant and noticing how much it grew over the days.
  • Counting the number of flowers and buds.
  • Comparing the number of petals or size of the different flowers.

Another benefit for this type of learning about math is that flower pots helps children to connect with nature in a meaningful way. They begin to understand the cycle of living things and what plants need in order to thrive. Children have the ability to explore in an environment that supports their growing minds. Plus there is the added benefit of being able to bring some beautiful colors and smells into the home.

Flower gardens are easy to grow in almost any climate. I live in what is call a High Desert where there is limited rain, an average of 300 days of sunshine, surrounded by mountains, with temperatures that can fluctuate over 20 degrees from the hottest to coldest part of the day, and the town sits at 4,500 feet above sea level. The key to success is to talk with your local Extension Office or Garden Center to see what grows best in your area. Note: It is important to consider the spread of the plant as some can quickly spread when planted in the ground. I had mint one year that spread into the lawn and roses…… but oh it smelled amazing.






Tammie Vail Shoultz-McCole, MA

Tammie Vail Shoultz-McCole is passionate about educating young children in an environment that nurtures the mind, body and soul. She began fostering the development of young minds in 1992 as the founder of Tiger’s Treehouse Child Care in Grand Junction, Colorado, where she taught children between the ages of 2 and 6 for more than 14 years. During that time, she earned her BA in social and behavioral science from Colorado Mesa University. In 2005, Shoultz-McCole began educating the next generation of early childhood professionals as an ECE instructor for CCC Online, a program designed to complement the on-campus experience of students in the Colorado Community Colleges system and increase access to educational opportunities for students juggling work and family responsibilities. In 2009, she began serving as an instructor and program director for the Early Childhood Education Department at Colorado Mesa University’s Western Colorado Community College campus—positions that she continues to hold today. Since 2015, Shoultz-McCole has also drawn on her extensive experience and expertise in early childhood education to serve as a coach for the Partnership for Children and Families (PCF), which creates, coordinates and sustains a resource-rich community for all families, so that children from every culture and community can achieve their full potential in safe and nurturing settings. Shoultz-McCole earned her master of arts degree in early childhood education from Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 2012 and her master of arts degree in educational instructional design from the University of Colorado-Denver in 2016. She is currently a fellow in the University of Colorado-Denver’s Buell Early Childhood Leadership Program, which prepares existing and emerging Colorado leaders in the field of early care and education to become effective agents for change as they work to create equity, opportunity and educational excellence for all young children in Colorado.

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2 Replies to “Flowers and the Frog”

  1. By using something that interest kids before math gets involved, the child will learn to like math because they like the items being introduced.

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