Gardening is an excellent activity for your kids! Not only will it keep them busy after school and at the weekends, it’s also a very beneficial educational experience, teaching them about nature and the environment. If you live in a city, you might think that gardening is not something you and your kids can do, but that’s not true! Everyone can have their own garden, regardless of their living situation – just be sure to choose a place in your home that gets a good amount of sun. Use plant pots to make the best use of a terrace or any other outdoor space, however small – or consider window boxes or create a miniature indoor garden. You could also enquire about the availability of local shared community land. Here is some helpful information about how to start gardening and some of the benefits of gardening with your little ones.
Good Plants for Kids and Garden Games
Gardening shouldn’t be a chore; it’s an activity that you and your kids can do together, a bonding exercise that can be incredibly rewarding. It’s an excellent excuse to get out and enjoy the warm summer weather – especially when you’re too tired or too busy to take the kids to the local park. When choosing plants for kids, remember that children are less patient than adults – they will want to see results as soon as possible! Buy plants that are quick to grow, that need very little maintenance, and that are quite hardy. They must be able to withstand a little over- or under-watering, as kids might be very eager to water their plants (or might even forget to water them sometimes)! Good starter plants are lavender, strawberry plants, and pansies.
After growing these plants, you could then try plants needing more specific care, like vegetables and herbs. Although planting new seeds is always fun for kids, there are some garden-based games you could play together, too. Why not set up an educational treasure hunt for your little ones, for example? Create a list of clues based on the physical descriptions of plants and flowers in a garden and place small pieces of treasure behind them. The clues could be something like, ‘Find me behind the pink flower’.
This helps younger kids to not only understand different shapes and colours, but also to learn to associate these with objects around them. For older kids, try making the clues a bit more difficult – along the lines of ‘Find me behind the primrose flower’ – as this will help them learn the names of plants and flowers.
Gardening and garden games can be a bit messy. If your children come back with mud stains on their clothes, check out the Stain Gang for great stain removal tips!
Art and Eco Friendly Projects
Gardening doesn’t just have to be about growing plants and flowers – it can be about fun art projects, too! If your child is growing a specific type of plant in their bedroom, encourage them to draw a poster of that plant, perhaps showing the different stages of development and demonstrating how the plant should be cared for. Stick this on the wall next to the plant so your child will always know how often to water and feed the plant.
Alternatively, once the plant has grown, you could pick a few leaves and create a colourful leaf rubbing that could make an excellent gift for family members. If you’ve decided to grow fruits, vegetables, or an herb garden, a great long-term project can be learning about organic farming. Your little ones can watch the plants grow, learn to look after them, learn how to recognise when the food is ready to be picked, and then help make dinner with these fresh, homegrown ingredients.
Many kids don’t appreciate where their food actually comes from, so it’s fascinating for them to discover how the process works!
Teaching Environmental Awareness and ‘Going Green’
In terms of education, gardening can be a real eye opener for your kids. For younger children, planting a seed and watching it grow is a good way of visualising the circle of life. Plants that have a noticeable sleep pattern in the dark, for example, are also a good way to help kids understand biological functions.
For older kids, gardening can help to explain the importance of having a well-balanced ecological system and will enable your family to discuss environmental issues like the effects of air pollution on plants, water shortages, and the use of pesticides in farming. Global warming for kids is often an intangible issue. In fact, many don’t even know what global warming is – but they should.
Gardening is just the first step towards a more environmentally friendly lifestyle for your family. It will provide your child with a keen sense of environmental awareness – something that’s absolutely vital for the future of our planet.
Do you grow your own garden? Do your kids help out? What sort of plants do you grow? Share your garden stories below, and read through to pick up even more ideas for expanding your horticultural knowledge.