Bellevue preschoolers prefer their vegetables with worms.
Children at First United Methodist Day Care were able to revamp their garden thanks to a $1,000 grant from the National Garden Association and "Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!" television show.
Bundling up in coats and hats Friday to battle off the springtime chill, a class of about 15 armed themselves with shovels, seeds and an acorn squash they've been growing in the classroom.
"Let's get digging," 5-year-old Kendall Collins said.
"I want to find a really, really big bug," said Evan Straub, 4.
"I want to dig a really deep hole so I can find water," Blaine Smith, 5, said.
"We're not going to be looking for those things," Kaitlyn Miller, 4, said shaking her head. "We're going to plant seeds."
Once outside, digging through the soft ground and comparing worms distracted the children from the task at hand.
"I found a worm in my garden, look," Aurora Fields, 3, said holding up a squirming worm. "He's so cute, look at him, aww ... he's a little one."
"Oh, gosh, you scared me," Kendall said as she bumped into her friend with a handful of worms.
Day care director Joyce Tucker and classroom teacher Bev Hasselbach set a few rules to keep the children on task.
"There are things starting to grow, so we need to watch where we're going," Tucker said. "Everyone can dig a little bit, and then we'll take turns pouring in the seeds. What do our plants need to grow?"
"Dirt," one child said.
"Worms," Tea Layne, 5, said. "We're getting the soil ready. Worms make flowers grow."
Tucker said this particular grant was designed to give preschoolers the opportunity to learn about nature and how things grow, but all children at the day care center get to spend time in and learn from the garden.
"... The infants and toddlers learn colors from flower petals and enjoy sensory activities like various smells and textures of plants," she said. "The school-aged (children) do many of the same activities as the preschoolers, just at more advanced levels."
As one of 75 winners chosen from more than 1,000 entries, the day care center received several boxes of educational items and gardening equipment including shovels, a butterfly farm, teacher books on caring for them, flower and veggie seeds, and a raised flower bed.
"They also sent us a bunch of different types of sunflower seeds," Tucker said. "I'm hoping to add another flowerbed so we can have some more color around the playground."
Aside from the outdoor activities, the students are working in the classroom with their own plants, measuring them and watching the root patterns.
"They put a sweet potato in water, and as it keeps growing and growing, they're measuring it twining out the top," Tucker said. "They had a ball measuring that thing. Every day they looked at it to see how much taller it was."
Concentrating on their outdoor activities, students dug, patted and dropped radish and onion seeds.
"Did I get my dirt soft?" Mia Serotko, 3, asked Tucker.
Tucker gave Mia a smile and told her she most certainly did.
"They'll dig and dig all day long," Tucker said. "They love to pick the flowers and watch things grow."