It’s Spring and what better way to enjoy it than getting outside with your children for a bit of gardening. Not only do children find gardening fun (what kid doesn’t like to get dirty?) but there are so many things they will learn and lots of benefits they will receive. And fear not, you do not need to tear up your back yard. Your garden can be as small or as extravagant as you like. You don’t even have to use your backyard at all, large pots and raised beds make wonderful areas to garden. The possibilities are truly endless, especially when it comes time to decide what to plant.
A few tips to keep in mind when gardening with children:
Engage your kids throughout the whole process. Give them their own area to plant (something manageable for their age) and let them pick out their own plants too. Do encourage some variety: include flowers, vegetables and fruits. Do you have an older child interested in cooking? Let them plant their own herb garden. Have a smaller child? Strawberries and Sunflowers are a fun choice. And for all ages, be sure to plant a pumpkin to be used on Halloween!
Gardening doesn’t have to be all hard work and no play! Think of some out of the box ideas to include with the digging, watering and weeding. Check out the link from Adventure-in-a-Box for a great way to label your plants with painted rocks. This is really fun for all ages and especially perfect for the little ones who aren’t reading yet.
After a few weeks have gone by and the kids are getting a bit bored with the waiting (this is a lesson in patience too after all) have the kids dig up some worms to put in their garden or build a small scare crow.
Turn your garden into an educational treasure trove!
The science behind all the different aspects of gardening are endless. According to PBS.org, one study showed that children who participated in gardening projects scored higher in science achievement than those who did not. Your kids will soon be asking questions like: Why are worms good for the soil? Why do plants need sun and water? You will be discussing scientific processes such as photosynthesis and soil composition in no time. Throw a little math in there for older kids. Have them get their ruler out and keep track of the plants growth over time. Which plant grew the fastest? Which plant grew the tallest? In order to answer these questions, they can keep a scientific journal to keep track of all of their measurements.
We all know sensory play is extremely beneficial for young children. Think about how far we go create hands on experiences by making homemade slime, sand/water/sensory tables, painting and books with textures. Think about all of the activities we create, plan and pay for so we can encourage their full range of fine and gross motor skills. Now think about how your garden will have all of those things and more! The textures they will come across are endless and not only will they touch, smell, hear and taste, but they will scoop, pour, sort, feel, create, lift, pick, carry, shovel, pull, dig… well, you get the idea.
This is a long term lesson as well that doesn’t have to end once you pick your bounty. Some of your produce will turn out successful and sit proudly on the dinner table or gifted to friends and neighbors. Other produce not so much and may even end up in the weed pile. Learn from this and improve upon your garden each year. Use your child’s scientific journal to keep track of what was successful and what wasn’t. Also use their journal to help plan next years garden. Their journal will not only be useful, but your child will feel proud to know that all their hard work really did pay off.
Download our garden activities for your children and get going in the garden: