Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback: Pinwheels + Creative “Calm Down” Projects

In Book #4 in “The Gardeneers” series, the kids learn a lot about self-regulation – something that’s important in the garden, but also a very important skill for children to learn when it comes to emotions. (And let’s face it – something many adults could also improve on!)

In “The Pinwheel Plot” Myrtle talks about deep-breathing to help regulate our bodies when we’re experiencing big feelings.

There are lots of creative ways to encourage deep-breathing, like making the titular pinwheels!

You can find the simple instructions for how to make these pinwheels from paper and straws in the “DIY” section of “The Pinwheel Plot.”

Another art project I’ve done with my kiddos is “blow painting” using liquid water colours and a straw to blow out those big feelings!

There are also so many great sensory play options that can help kids with calming down from play dough to rice bins.

You can make sensory jars using water bottles filled with water + whatever you’d like. Often they use glitter but why not go a more eco-friendly route and fill them with flower petals, leaf confetti or other natural materials. Shake them up and watch them settle. (Just be sure that lid is on tight!)

FOR YOUR LITTLE GARDENEERS:

Chloe uses dandelions and pinwheels to blow when she’s feeling upset. What other things could you practise blowing?

Observe and Interact: Map-Making

One great way to observe and interact with your garden space is by creating a map of it. Map-making is a great activity because you can tailor it to the age and skill level of the child. 

Little ones can simply draw the important things they see or older kids can take measurements and create a map to scale – also incorporating a bit of maths.

My kids, aged 5 and 8 created something in between. We chose to make a map of our front yard because it’s a rectangle and easy to measure. We started by making predictions of how big we thought it might be.

Ms 8 guessed 5m x 7m and Mr 5 guessed 17m x 16m. (I suspect he was just naming numbers he likes.) Then we busted out the tape measurer they measured it all on their own and wrote down their findings: 8m x 11.5m (right in the middle of their guesses).

Then we talked about drawing it to scale. After a few experiments and a discussion about metric vs imperial, we decided we’d draw it in inches. 8×11.5 inches felt too small so I had Ms 8 double the numbers and then measure it out and draw the borders.

Then I had her write down all the important elements of our yard: all the trees, the two veggie patches (and everything growing in them), the pot plants and rose bushes. She drew all of the various plants and labelled them.

Because Mr 5 is a little less detail-oriented, he instead drew our house and our neighbours’ houses on either side of us.


Then they coloured everything in. Ms 8 kept running outside to double check her colour choices, wanting to get everything as accurate as possible.

We could have added the challenge of measuring where all of the trees and various features were, but doing it a bit more freehand meant she had to do more observations.

The first Gardeneers book, called “The Cicada Detectives” is all about observing and interacting with a space so that you can figure out the best way to plan out a garden. It can also be a great way to see what’s working, and what you might need to change.

FOR YOUR LITTLE GARDENEERS:

Test your powers of observation…  for those of you who have read “The Cicada Detectives” can you figure out what important feature we left off our map? Leave a comment if you think you know the answer 🙂