Kids learn best by doing, and gardening is a very hands on activity that has so many lessons for children to learn. Whatever your own experience is with gardening, it is easy to introduce kids to the garden and task them with age appropriate chores. Children of every age can take part in planning, designing, planting and tending a garden, and with a little planning you can keep them interested and active in the garden all summer long.
Use these tips and activities to introduce kids to gardening and keep them invested in the plants as they grow.
Decide on a Type of Garden
Stay as flexible as possible when it comes to the type of garden to be planted, flower, vegetable or container. If you have children that are unable to choose just one, remember that a vegetable garden benefits from flowers, and ornamental vegetables make great flower garden additions. Giving children the deciding factor creates a sense of ownership for the garden, which in turn keeps them involved.
Once their garden type is chosen, make the seed selection a game. Help children create a chart, creating 3-4 categories for different types of plants. For example, flower garden categories can be divided by color, size (to ensure flowers of every type are included) or by when they bloom (to ensure there is always a color in the garden. A vegetable garden chart can include root vegetables, leafy greens/bushy vegetables and then climbing vegetables. As children peruse the seeds available, allow them a manageable number for each category that they use the chart to keep track with.
Creating a Garden Plan
Creating a garden plan is an important step for every gardener, and it is a great lesson to learn early on. Allow children the chance to plan out their gardens with the help of a garden mockup. Use construction paper to cut out a variety of shapes in different colors to represent the flowers being planted. An example set of flower garden shapes can include orange circles for marigolds, purple ovals for petunias, yellow squares for sunflowers and red triangles for geraniums. Attach flower choices to a sheet of brown construction paper in the way they want to plant the garden, and bring their garden plan outside when planting day arrives.
Plant and Encourage
Provide children with their own set of gardening tools for planting and the chance to lead, delegate or get the job done for themselves. Having a say makes them more likely to want to see the garden completed and successful, so they will take more initiative in the watering and weeding. Older children can begin keeping a garden journal, tracking the progress and growth of each type of plant. These notes come in handy next year too. Younger children can track the growth of their garden using a flower growth chart, much like you would keep track of their own growth.
Celebrate your child’s successes at gardening, even if garden has dwindled still recognize the effort, with a small celebration. A nice dinner including vegetables grown at home or a dressed up table with cut flowers from the garden are the perfect celebrations of their garden.