7 tips for gardening with kids
Saturday is the start of National Children’s Gardening Week. To encourage children to get involved in the garden, take a look at these top tips from the TOG24 team. Not only will you get an extra pair of hands to help you out but the kids will benefit enormously from getting into the fresh air, engaging with the natural world and doing an activity together as a family. The ideas we’ve come up with will capture their interest and, we hope, start them on a lifelong love of gardening.
1. Plant sunflower seeds
This is one of the easiest gardening activities for children. You can also add a competitive element and see who in the family can grow the tallest sunflower! You can either plant them directly into the ground or in a pot. Add a cane to support the flowers as they grow taller and taller. Plant them now and they should flower by August.
2. Yum, yum, in their tums
One way to interest a child in gardening is to plant things they like to eat. Given how impatient kids can be, we advise planting fast growing plants. Peas, runner beans, lettuces, radishes and cress all grow quickly. The sooner they reap the rewards, the better! Use this an opportunity to help develop their planning and organisational skills by getting them to map out where they will plant the seeds and ask them to devise ways to mark what is planted where so they can identify what’s coming up through the soil. Gardening is a great way to weave in a bit of home schooling.
3. No outdoors? Try indoor gardening
If you don’t have a garden, kids can still grow edible plants on a windowsill. Who remembers growing cress in an eggshell when they were young? It’s still a classic that kids love to do, decorating the shell with a face and then the cress is the hair. Or create a cactus garden together, arranging where each one goes whilst learning about how they survive in hot, dry environments. Plus they are easy to look after – bonus!
4. Get crafty in the garden
For kids who love craft, you can combine craft and gardening in loads of different ways. Press flowers and make a work of art with them; make a windchime from household items to hang in the garden; paint rocks to make them look like ladybirds and bees; or even make a scarecrow to protect all those seeds they’ve planted.
5. Observe wildlife
Watching and learning about the wildlife in a garden is a great way to entertain kids. For those that don’t mind creepy crawlies, make a mini beast house out of bricks, wood, straw, and other natural materials you have available. Bugs love these ‘hotels’ and kids can watch and learn about this natural habitat. Or try birdwatching. Give the child a sheet of common garden birds and ask them to record how many they spot: robin, jackdaw, blue tit, blackbird etc. Then ask questions about the different noises the birds make, what they notice about their colours and encourage them to research some interesting facts about these garden birds.
6. Give them some responsibility
Once the planting is over, give children the responsibility of taking care of the seeds and plants. Kids can be the ones that water them every day (saving you a job), pull up the weeds and can keep an eye out for predatory snails and slugs. Kids learn great life lessons when they see their hard work and care paying off.
7. Let them get messy
There’s no better way than to get a child interested in gardening, than to give them permission, even encouragement, to get their hands (and the rest of them) dirty. Messy play is a sensory experience and a brilliant opportunity for curious minds to explore and investigate. Anyone for a mud pie?
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