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Children are the beset gardeners! Their natural love of everything makes them not only great helpers, but they stuggle to assert their own independence. If you know the right garden activities for children, they can do all of that while learning too. It really is a win-win! Indoors or out, growing plants, designing gardens, making models, and sprouting seeds are educational and fun for kids. Edible gardening is tasty too!
Garden Activities for Children
Encouraging kids to grow things is a fantastic activity that is good for their overall development. Gardening is good exercise, and events such as choosing plants, counting seeds, drawing plans, and designing their plots all stimulate young minds and feed into different areas of the school curriculum.
Indoor Gardening with Kids
Gardening doesn’t have to be a sunshine activity. There are plenty of things to be done on those rainy days. Sprouting seeds on the windowsill, choosing plants from catalogs or on the web, making collages out of flower pictures, and working out when the different varieties will flower are all excellent activities. A few more are listed below:
Making and Using a Seed Sprouter
A windowsill seed sprouter is a great way to introduce kids to a fun way of growing their own food. Kits are available, but it is easy to improvise a sprouter from a plastic bottle or a large jam jar.
Pierce the lid of a jar to make some air holes. Pour a sprinkling of seeds into a jar, add some water, put the lid on, then empty the water out, leaving the seed spread across the side of the jar. Leave the jar resting on its side on a window sill. Rinse the seeds the same way each day until the seeds have begun to germinate. They are ready to eat – you simply need to rinse and serve.
Don’t leave the seedlings for too long – they can develop mildew and a slightly moldy taste, becoming a bit slimy. If this happens quite soon after sowing, maybe the container hasn’t got enough air circulation, there are too many seeds, or it needs to be sterilized either by putting through a dishwasher or rinsing with a disinfectant such as Milton Fluid. Many seed varieties are available from health food shops and garden centers. Children can choose what to grow. Cress, mung beans, alfalfa, and radish are popular. A significant benefit of sprouting your own seeds is that it is quick, results can be seen and eaten within a couple of days.
A simple recipe – a favorite is just a few mixed bean sprouts and a dollop of mayonnaise in a sandwich or added to a stir-fry. Grown-ups can enjoy them mixed with a little soy sauce as a light and tasty salad.
Sprouting beans are fun, quick, and very nutritious, good crunchy snack food for kids, and a brilliant introduction to the joys of gardening.
Create Miniature Gardens
For a rainy day activity, create a miniature garden in a seed tray or shoebox. Let the kids choose materials to use – it could be plasticine, recycled materials, old cardboard boxes, or lego (if the mess isn’t a problem, real soil). They can then design the garden, sketch it out on paper then create a model. It’s impressive to see what they would like in their gardens – Jedi palaces, the Loch Ness Monster, and The Simpsons. Slides, ponds, and cinemas made out of bits and bobs, tin foil, or the pond or clingfilm; some even use yogurt pots filled with water for the real thing. Adult supervision is a good idea, just in case the imaginations run too wild, and a swamp is formed in the living room, complete with carnivorous plants and sprouting cress!
Outdoor Garden Activities
Packs of small tools and excellent gloves for little hands are readily available from most garden centers. Kids can help with the ‘big’ stuff – sowing seeds in the vegetable garden or watering plants in containers. If you have space, let them have their own plot to design and choose plants for. Plants that can be harvested the same year are best for kids; they are eager to see the results of their labor. A container or hanging basket that they can plant up and care for is a good start.
Edible Gardening for Children
Edible gardening with kids is probably the most fulfilling activity. They can choose what to grow and will have a result that will encourage them to eat fruit and vegetables fresh from the garden. Gardening is also an excellent way to learn about nature – getting to eat the veggies before the caterpillars do, encouraging beneficial insects, bees, and ladybirds can be exciting. Making compost also fascinates children. How do all the yukky food scraps end up as sweet-smelling soil? A wormery with glass sides helps them to understand the natural processes.
This is just the start of garden activities for children! There are plenty of things children can do related to horticulture, indoors or out - creative, messy, and tasty activities that will give them a life-long passion for growing.
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