Kids love learning. Gardening is a great way to get kids to eat healthier and exercise! It is so wonderful to get them outside. Gardening can help kids learn to deal with stress as they “de-stress” from school, and it can build their self-confidence. Gardening can help children learn to plan and focus. It is a life skill that children will keep with them forever. Starting with some gardening activities is fun and exciting for kids!
Spring is a great time to begin gardening with your children. Maybe begin by taking them to a local Farmer’s Market in your area or even the grocery store and letting them see and look at all the vegetables and fruits that are available.
A local nursery is a great place to start planning for what flowers and plants you and your children might want to plant and watch grow.
Easy flowers for kids to grow:
If you can, you may want to read some fun books about planting before you start:
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
Grow Happy by Jon Lasser
In the Garden by Emma Giuliani
Johnny Appleseed -My Little Golden Book by Lori Haskins Houran
Start with an “egg carton” garden to answer questions your children might have.
Egg shell carton
Seeds (use a couple of different types of seeds to compare, marigolds and sunflowers)
Spoon or small scoop
1. Fill each egg space up with ½ soil. Put in one seed and cover with soil filling up the rest of the egg space.
2. Use a spray bottle or spoon to dampen each egg space.
3. Put carton near sun and after 3 days, examine the seeds.
4. You can use a magnifying glass to look at seeds and note shoots, root changes, and seed changes.
Optional: an older child might want to keep a gardening journal and write down the changes as well as drawing pictures. Sunflowers grow fastest, so keep an eye out for their changes!
I remember as a child, my father would let me plant marigolds around his vegetable garden. It was a great source of joy to see them come up in all different colors. Marigolds are said to keep the bugs away. Planting and growing marigolds actually started my interest in gardening, plus, it was something my dad and I enjoyed doing together!
Don’t forget to do nature activities with your kids, too. One of my favorite nature activities with my own children was to put peanut butter on pinecones and then roll them in bird seed and hang them out for the birds.
There are so many activities to do with your children to teach them about nature and make them future conservationists. Children love for you to take the time with them and teach them. What better way than gardening? Happy spring days with your kids in the garden!
Gaye Winter, Ph.D., teaches English at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and is a member of Biloxi Garden Club. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.