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Sprout Your Own Leafy Wonders Review by Krystin Corneilson

By Anastasia Suen; illustrated by Robert Shadbolt
Chronicle Books LLC
680 Second Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

Sprout Your Own Leafy Wonders is a complete mini-garden kit that can help kids learn about and grow three fun plants: the sensitive plant, the polka-dot plant, and lamb's ear. The compact and attractive package includes three planters, peat pellets, and seed packets, as well as a guidebook and stickers for even more fun. As an added bonus and a great discussion starter with your children, the planters are made from biodegradable plastic and the packaging is 100% recyclable unlaminated paper. The softcover handbook introduces kids to the specific plants and explains how to grow them, but it also tells the scientific stories of seeds and leaves. The photos and illustrations are fun, and the short text segments are informative and memorable. There is a Growth Log in the back of the book where budding botanists can mark the progress of their plants, and there's even a section on how students could use this kit for science fair projects.

This hands-on learning kit could be used in a number of ways. Its creators suggest that kids from 4-12 would enjoy it best. It is a logical supplement to a natural science curriculum. It could also be used to promote interest in science fair projects. It would also be a fun activity for "no school" or vacation times, when finding productive opportunities can be a hassle. Our boys, ages 10, 8, and 6, finished a botany curriculum earlier this year, and they very much enjoyed the plant facts--and even more, getting their hands dirty!

Pros: I was so excited when I saw the box that I could hardly wait for the kids to dig in. Fortunately, they were as enthusiastic as I, and they quickly parceled out the parts and decorated their planters with stickers. The process was seamless and fun. And unlike normal planting sessions with kids, it wasn't too messy (although I would recommend using newspaper on your work surface). The boys even made it a contest to see whose plant would grow the fastest.

Cons: Frankly, I can't come up with any cons. The inside of the package lived up to its inviting outside. My kids loved it. I loved it. The suggested price of $18.99 might seem steep to some, but I couldn't have taken my boys to the movies for that price. However, we have been able to enjoy this multi-week project together and will appreciate the houseplants for a long time as well.

Sprout Your Own Leafy Wonders is an activity unit that is definitely worth the money and time. It is a great kit to enjoy with your kids or to give as a gift. Plus, Chronicle Books offers another kit, Sprout Your Own Sweet Scents, where your kids can grow plants that smell like candy. But don't tell my kids--I think I'll surprise them with that one!

Product review by Krystin Corneilson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2009