Gardening with Kids: Getting Kids Excited About Gardening
Gardening with kids is one of the best things we can do as a family. When we garden together, we teach our kids the value of hard work and dedication, teamwork, and the joy you get when all that work pays off.
Of course, if you have younger kids, you might be horrified at trying to grow fragile plants with all the stomping, pawing, and unintentional destruction that comes with curious littles.
Don’t worry, though, it’s nothing like you imagine. Gardening with kids can actually be an incredibly wonderful experience for both you and the kids.
What Makes Gardening with Kids Great
Gardening is an excellent way to promote a healthy mind and body. The physicality of gardening coupled with the mental stimulation of learning about planting and rain and feeding the garden combine to be an extremely enriching experience for the children.
Plus, it helps you make great lifelong memories, as well.
Science, Math, and Nature
Gardening is the perfect time to teach children basic science, math, and nature concepts. While planting, you can talk about how the seeds need warm earth and water to germinate. You can explain what germination is.
You can even talk a little about photosynthesis. In addition, kids can practice math skills by counting out seeds or plant flats. Nature concepts are all naturally rolled into that, as well. You can also make it a bit of a health class by talking about how eating lots of different veggies makes the body healthier.
Gardening is also the perfect way to help them grow physically. Bending, squatting, picking things up, and the like are all excellent full-body movements that help children stay active and strengthen growing muscles.
In addition, digging in the soil, helping you place plants and seeds, and helping move bags of soil or watering can help improve hand-eye coordination and burns off all that excess energy that children have.
It helps children learn how to interact in groups, as well. Gardening requires teamwork. Everyone has their part on the team. Sally plants the seed. Billy brings the water. Things like that.
Children learn how to work as a team and how, while not everyone may get to do every single thing on a team, they all work together toward a common goal. It’s the perfect way to show them that not everything is about them, an important lesson for the littles to learn.
Studies have shown that children who garden have reduced levels of anxiety and stress, and they tend to be in a better mood.
All that interaction with the family coupled with plenty of hard work and sunshine helps the kids feel more connected and give them a sense of accomplishment.
Tips for Gardening with Kids
The following tips make gardening with kids much easier for parents and much more fun for the children, and that’s really what we want in this scenario. Gardening should be a fun adventure for the children, not another chore.
You can use these tips to help make gardening with kids easy and enjoyable, and you just might be surprised at how well they work, to boot!
One of the best ways to get kids excited about gardening is to blow their minds with creative container use.
Most kids have pre-determined ideas of the way things work. We’ve all had conversations with kids – even older ones – who think that things can only be done one way. Well, you can get them excited about gardening by showing them that almost anything goes when it comes to containers.
The following options are great for getting a big reaction from kids, and they all actually work really well, too.
- Baskets – You can use almost any sort of basket for planting. Just line it with landscaping fabric to keep the dirt inside, fill it with potting soil, and then plant. They’re great for porches.
- Cans – You can grow plants and veggies in cans, just use a size that makes sense. Coffee cans, for example, make great containers for flowers or even single veggie plants like cucumbers.
- Buckets – 5-gallon buckets and even mop buckets are great for growing tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, squash, and more. Just drill some drainage holes in the bottom, backfill partway with some gravel for drainage, fill with good dirt, and plant away.
- Watering Cans – Watering cans are great little containers for flowers.
- Two-Liter or Three-Liter Bottles – Cut the top off of a two-liter or three-liter bottle to make an instant pot for plants. You can even cut holes in the side so you can create a multi-plant container.
- Jars – Mason jars are great planters for herbs.
- Wooden Boxes and Old Crates – Line wooden boxes or old crates with landscaping fabric and fill them with dirt for a super cute flower or veggie planter.
- Shoes – This is a really fun one for gardening with kids. Old shoes and boots are great for small plants.
- Old Toilets and Sinks – Kids always get a kick out of seeing flowers or veggies growing out of toilets and sinks. Toilets are especially fun because you can grow one thing in the tank and another in the bowl!
Another way to make gardening with kids a ton of fun is to create themed gardens. These gardens all revolve around a central idea, giving them a structure that kids can easily understand and get excited about.
- Tex-Mex Garden – Plant all the veggies you need to create your Tex-Mex dishes. Veggies like corn, onions, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, tomatoes, garlic, and the like are perfect.
- Italian Garden – Just like the Tex-Mex garden, plant veggies that you can use to make Italian dishes. Veggies like tomatoes, onions, garlic, bell peppers, basil, oregano, and eggplant all work well.
- Fairy Herb Garden – Create a magical garden for herbs, flowers, and woodland fey to live in with your kids. You can find all kinds of cute little fairy houses to put throughout your garden.
- Seed Gardens – Perfect for gardening with kids who are a bit older, seed gardens give kids a chance to get creative and experiment with different types of seeds. Veggies that grow well from seed include squash, pumpkin, beans, sunflowers, peas, and beans.
- Rainbow Garden – Rainbow gardens are a great way to teach kids about healthy eating while getting them excited about gardening. Go to your local garden center and pick out vegetable plants that match each color in the rainbow.
- Giving Garden – Gardening with kids can even teach them about the value of giving back. A giving garden is one in which you grow and harvest vegetables and then give them to a local food bank or shelter.
- Teepee Garden – Teepee gardens are an absolute joy for kids. Use poles and rope or twine to create a teepee shape, leaving an opening for the kids to go inside. Then, plant climbing vegetables like beans, peas, or cucumbers at the base of the poles. The plants will create a living teepee that the kids can use as a garden fort and even go inside to harvest the veggies later.
Create Garden Markers
There’s no end to what you can do when gardening with kids. One fun way to keep your garden organized and get in some fun arts and crafts time is to make homemade garden markers. These markers keep the kids creative and your garden organized.
- Paint Stirrers – Your kids can paint these up, and then when they’re dry they can label them with permanent markers.
- Rocks – Just like the paint stirrers, paint them up and then label them.
- Bricks – Old bricks make excellent markers, as well. Just label and place.
- Popsicle Sticks – Popsicle sticks are excellent markers for window herb gardens, and they can be painted to make them fun and adorable.
- Flagpoles – Make flag poles out of a twig and some duct tape. Make the pole from the stick and the flag from the duct tape, and then label the flag with the veggies.
Secrets to Success When Gardening with Kids
These tips for gardening with kids are designed around making the experience the best it can possibly be.
From ensuring success to making them feel like big boys and girls, these tips make it even more fun for the kiddos and allow them to really feel like they’ve done something super amazing.
When gardening with kids, the key is to keep it simple and geared toward success. Now is not the time to try growing something fancy that may or may not do well. Rather opt for plants and veggies that grow well without too much hassle.
Choose hardy vegetables like beans, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, and other varieties that practically grow no matter what.
In addition, ensure that it’s easy for the kids to do the work required to grow the garden. Establish your garden near your water source if possible so that it’s not too much of a slog for the kids to get from point A to point B.
Don’t make your garden too large either. Kids can get bored and tired easily. Keep it small to keep it fun.
Make It THEIR Garden
Kids love the feeling of ownership. It makes them feel like big boys and girls. They’re doing the things that older kids and grownups do. So make this garden one that they feel is their own.
Have them make garden markers like the ones listed above, make sure they do the majority of the garden tending, and make a fun little garden chore chart so they always know who needs to do what.
Use Real Tools
Remember, gardening with kids is all about making it a REAL experience. Don’t buy plastic garden tools. They’re doing big kid work. This is especially true if your kids are 5 or older. They definitely know the difference.
You can find real garden tools sized specifically for children at your local garden center. You can even teach the kids how to properly care for their tools, giving them even further mastery over their garden domain.
Don’t Strive for Perfection
This is actually a tip for gardening with kids that’s geared toward the grownups. Your natural instinct will be to instruct the kids on how to do every little thing exactly as it should be done. For tweens and older kids, that’s fine. They can handle it.
However, for younger kids, trying to do it all exactly as it should be done will only discourage and frustrate them. Understand that the beans might be over or under-watered and some plants might get a little roughed up. That’s OKAY.
Gardening with Kids can be an Amazing Adventure for All
Gardening with kids is a great way to teach them about math, science, nature, health, social interaction, and teamwork.
It’s also a great way to build life-long family memories. Just remember to take a laid-back approach with the littles, understand that things won’t be perfect, and always offer continued encouragement throughout the process.
By the end of the season, you’ll have little gardeners on your hands who are just itching to make an even better garden next year.