Happy Earth Day weekend!
Trying to come up with fun activities that will engage your kids and celebrate Earth Day? We've got you all covered parents!
We chatted with Erika Rodriguez, a Miami-based children's therapist with a focus on plant therapy, about gardening with your kids this Earth Day.
Hi Erika! Tell us a little more about yourself
My name is Erika Rodriguez founder and creator of LaSucculenta and Play2Learn in Miami, Florida. I am a Pediatric Occupational Therapist helping kiddos become the best version of themselves, but you can also find me repurposing things like cafeterias and vintage toys into vessels for succulent arrangements. I combine my two loves by teaching kiddos to connect themselves with nature by way of upcycling everyday items with succulents.
Why is gardening so great for kids?
Gardening is incredibly beneficial for kids in SO MANY ways, but my favorite and most prominent reason is in developing their senses. Technology now plays a large part of modern life and gardening takes it back to human basics. The colors of the leaves and vessels are visually stimulating, fine-tuning their perception and communication. Different textures from the plants, soil, water, and rocks help with tactile development and hand-eye coordination. From the sound of the leaves rustling in the wind to the blue jay chirping, the sounds experienced while gardening are magical helping in promoting attention and focus.
The fact that planting is fun for kids, playing with dirt, being outside, and freely creating, makes it easy for them to engage in it. Luckily very well hidden within the entertainment, so many important life skills are learned. Mindfulness for the living plant, while doing something to benefit the planet. Respect for nature, observing its beauty and taking responsibility to care for it. As adults, we all know that these lessons usually come from different separate events throughout life, and being an Occupational Therapist with a teaching background, I know how hard it is to find something that accomplishes so much by doing something so simple.
How does gardening help kids emotionally?
Having ADHD I have dealt with anxiety, low self-esteem, and emotional highs and lows my entire life. Gardening is one of the things that helps me unwind and clear my mind. Whenever I work with kids, I always think of what works for me now as an adult and then figure out different ways to instill these helpful tools in a daily routine and how I might have taught myself these things as a child.
From my experience in gardening with my niece, goddaughter, and patients, I have realized how gardening is grounding, helping them calm their mind and body. It also builds confidence in themselves, teaches resourcefulness, and patience. Gardening also helps children develop a sense of love and appreciation for Mother Earth, which I feel helps a child develop love and compassion for others as well.
How can we incorporate gardening into our regular time with our kids?
There are so many projects that can be done with easily found household items, from a broken toy to a tuna packet. So you can plan dates with your children according to what you find! It makes it fun and different every time. After you have your planters done, there’s the fun task of choosing a name to go with your new succulent babies. Taking care of them is equally as good of a bonding experience because you can observe your plants together, talk to them, water them, and sometimes sing to them! One thing I have found is that kiddos want to be involved in what’s going on, it’s important as adults we give them the opportunity to do so.
What types of items can we plant it?
We can plant in anything! Luckily my passion has taken me through a lot of different vessels and a lot of learning experiences which have taught me how to adjust to every situation. I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve, so almost anything is possible! Of course, some adjustments may be necessary, but almost anything can work.
What are the easiest plants for kids to grow?
When I first introduce gardening to kiddos I like to start off with a succulent leaf. Succulents are a type of plant that does not need a seed to grow but grow through propagation. With this process, kids get to experience the succulent leaf rooting and growing into a new plant seeing the process first hand. Children learn about the plant life cycle, as well as seeing it grow and change, which in turn keeps their interest.
Where can we find you and learn more about your services?
If you are looking for unique succulent arrangements you can find me on Instagram @LaSucculenta or LaSucculenta.com. There you can find new items up for sale or contact me if you are interested in upcycling an item you love. You can also stay updated on classes for adults and children as well as local events.
If you are looking for a Pediatric Occupational Therpaist for your child you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Therapy sessions occur in the comfort of your own home.
Be sure to come join us this Earth Day April 22nd for our gardening gathering at Museum Park in downtown Miami at 3:30pm with Erika! Bring and old toy to plant with - we've got the rest :-)
Share your Earth Day activities with us on Instagram @RenzosVitamins
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