In today's strange times, when we're all at home and the world as we know it is on hold, it's important to find family-friendly activities that can be done around the home and can still hold some kind of educational value hidden in their fun - we're all feeling like we've had enough TV by now, right?!
Veggie and herb gardening is a great way to get your kids outdoors and excited about a project! It's an activity that requires their planning, regular upkeep and the best part? It has a reward at the end for all of their hard work. It's also not very difficult, so with a little parental guidance and supervision, kids of any age can be involved in the process in some way.
So, how can you get kids involved in planting a family garden in a way that's enjoyable and interesting for them? Read on!
Getting Your Kids Involved in Gardening
Get them their own tools
Kids love having their own set of tools, especially when they're made specially for smaller hands! Kids' gardening tool sets aren't that expensive and easy to find online. Grab them a set and give it to them as a gift, or maybe let them help you pick one out. It will get them excited about the task that's ahead!
You'll also want to get some plant markers so that your kids can keep track of what's growing where. These Plant & Garden Markers are a great kid-friendly choice. The waterproof labels have names and illustrations of the 15 most-common veggies and herbs and the adorable pictures mean they work as a teaching tool for kids of all ages, even pre-readers and toddlers.
Make a Plan
Making a gardening plan is a fun process and it's easy to involve your kids in it! Choose your plot of land or that pots that you're going to use. Talk about how you want your garden to look, then sit down as a family and write out a plan for what vegetables and herbs you'd like to grow. Here's a great garden plan printable you can use to record everyone's ideas - Our Garden Plan Printable:
While you may not be able to visit a nursery or garden centre this Spring, many places are offering curbside pick-up, so you can order your seeds or buds online. You may want to get this started sooner than later, as gardening is going to be a popular activity this year and you may find places start selling out of what you want.
Let Them Get Dirty!
Kids love getting their hands dirty! Gardening is a great opportunity to allow your little ones to get their hands dirty (literally) and touch and explore all the elements of the great outdoors.
Make Gardening a Fun, Social Activity
Go through all the required steps with your kids when you're first planting your garden. Use this fun printable to keep them on track - How Does Your Garden Grow Printable:
Talk about why your plants needs certain things, like water and sun, and talk about how you'll care for them in the coming months. Talk about the parts of a plant so they feel informed and educated on what they're doing. Here's a colouring sheet you can use to help with that - Parts of a Plant Printable:
And most importantly, remember that the upkeep of your garden should be fun and light-hearted! The last thing you want is for it to become a chore that your kids start resisting. Kids will love doing the daily check-in of their plants to see how much they've grown and if you're tech-savvy, you can even set up a camera to film a time lapse and watch a quick play back with your kids of how their plant grew that day.
Teaching Nutrition Through Gardening
Letting your kids take part in the process of growing something from a seed or bud to a full plant is a wonderful way to promote healthy eating. Not only does the act of vegetable gardening give children a deeper understanding of where the food they eat comes from, it's also exciting enough to encourage even the pickiest of eaters to try something new!
Encourage your kids to have a taste of the vegetables they've grown. It's important that they get to enjoy the fruits of their labor! Here's a wonderful tally sheet you can print for them to make it feel like a fun game! Have your kids go on a tasting test and record their likes and dislikes - Eating My Garden Printable:
Once you've harvested your veggies and herbs, you can use them in your cooking! Sit down with your kids and think about what meals you could make with what you've grown. You can also have them take part in the preparing and cooking of your meal. The more you involve them in the entire process, the more likely they are to try new things. It also allows them to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in all their hard work.
Good luck! And as we approach Mother's Day, remember that this holiday is a great time to plan a day of gardening fun. Make it your Mother's Day request, get your supplies together and get started on your planting all together in the backyard. Being active outdoors in the sun is a sure way to get everyone smiling and involved. And don't forget to have your kids colour this beautiful picture for you while you're at it. You deserve it!
Want more tips on introducing children to gardening? Here are some other great online resources:
Find tips, support and ideas for using garden-based activities and lesson plans for your children at KidsGardening:
My First Garden is a site from the University of Illinois that includes all you need to know about getting started with gardening in a fun, kid-friendly way:
A Montessori perspective on the importance and benefits of teaching young children about nature and gardening:
Gardening For Kids has great resources, tips and products for introducing children to gardening:
There are lots of great gardening products for kids you can buy at Gardeners.com: