Let Them Grow: Dirt Play

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Dirt is Some Thing

Spring has arrived here in Western MA, which means we can now move our creative play outdoors! Toddlers can make the best of anything… especially dirt! Children love playing with dirt. It is soft and malleable; cool and versatile. Children can make anything with dirt! Just recently I was served a dirt grill cheese and a side of fries. As the adults, we have to be willing to provide the dirt and the place to play. We have to be willing to see the benefits behind the mess. 

Creating a Planting Station

I have mentioned in my previous post, Planting and Water Stations for Toddlers a planting station is a simple way to allow for dirt play throughout the spring and summer. Made for dirt play, all you need might include:

  • Soil
  • Spoons, scoops, and shovels
  • Planter pots (Egg cartons work great)
  • Seeds
  • Access to water

Planting microscopic seeds is tough for small hands, so I like to use bigger seeds that grow fast. Wheat Grass is fun, the seeds are large, and you can’t over or under plant them.

Using recycled or store bought containers teach your toddler or preschooler about the life cycle of plants. Starting with seeds, soil, and water. Add the sunshine and the plant grows.

To make things more interesting you can add things to your planting station:

  • Spray bottle
  • Tweezers (to pick up seeds)
  • Pots and Pans
  • Cooking utensils

Eggshell Planting and Sensory Play

Another fun dirt play and planting activity include using eggshells. Adding eggshells is a great way to give the soil vital nutrients and a crunchy sensory experience. If your child is old enough not to crush them all, you can use the shells as a planter for the wheat grass. This makes a beautiful and eco-friendly vessel for your plants. You can move the grass with the shell to outdoors or into a larger container.

Playing in the dirt is a joy at any age. Fostering a love of gardening will help sprout a true love of nature and with this, there is hope that the gifts mother nature bring will not go unappreciated or undervalued. Before you know it, your preschooler will be starting a garden of her own!


Candice Chouinard has worked with youth of all ages and backgrounds, creating and implementing programming for children. She revels in hands-on, long-term, messy projects that are both fun and educational. Candice comes from a background in creative writing, as well as, child development and psychology. She owns and operates a daycare in Northampton, MA.



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