Gardening is indeed one of the most interesting activities for many and growing plants is the best way to interact with nature. Being a gardener myself, I enjoy the sheer pleasure of watching the sprouting seeds, growing shoots, blooms and fruits. Love for nature is something that I developed at a very young age. But, nowadays, kids like spending time on gadgets and gizmos, rather than watching plants, birds or bugs. There are only a few, who are interested in understanding nature. While some parents love gardening, they forget to involve their kids in this wonderful activity. In some cases, the kids themselves do not find it interesting. If you want to awaken the nature lover in your kid, introducing them to gardening (that too at a young age) is one of the best ways.
Introducing Kids to Gardening
Kids are found to have an innate interest in nature. They love chasing butterflies and playing in mud or water. They like touching worms and bugs. If your kid belongs to this category, you can easily introduce him/her to gardening. For others, you have to identify their area of interest, before forcing them to grow plants. Some may love watching bugs and worms, while others love flowers. You have to engage them in activities, which allow them to follow their interests. Try to make the activity interesting and fun-filled, as kids tend to get bored easily.
If your kid loves flowers, let him/her identify different types of flowers and their smell. Tell them about how plants grow and produce blooms and fruits. If the kid is found to be interested in a particular plant, you can grow that in your garden. Ask the kid to plant the seeds or water the soil. He/she will be enthusiastic to find the seed sprout, grow and bloom. This method is useful for those with kids in the age group of four to six. For older ones, you can assign a patch of soil for gardening. Let them grow flowers and vegetables of their choice. Supervise their work and help them. You may also ask them to present their products in local fairs.
You can introduce younger kids to gardening, but in a different way. Explain to them about the different types of plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables and how they grow in soil. Live examples are always better (choose those plants that grow fast). Let the kid watch, as you sow seeds, grow plants, remove weeds and feed them. This will help him/her to develop a bond with nature, at a very young age.
Fun-filled Gardening Activities for Kids
We all know that kids love fun-filled activities and anything that is monotonous, can be boring for them. So, make gardening a fun activity for them. Parents must plan the activities and join the kids for the same. The following are some tips about how to make gardening more interesting for kids.
To start with, allow your kid to roam around and explore the garden. You may also take the kid to places with natural surroundings. Collect different types of leaves and flowers and let the kids feel their texture and smell. Allow them to inspect different types of insects and worms.
For smaller kids, you may come up with activities like painting pots that are meant for plants. You may also allow them to collect differently shaped containers that can be used for this purpose. It could be anything from a discarded pair of shoes to an old can.
If you are searching for some fun-filled gardening activities for kids, try to make a watering can with old plastic bottles or containers. All you have to do is to make some holes on the lid of the bottle and a single hole (somewhere near the handle or top for air movement). Let your kid enjoy watering plants with the newly made watering can.
If you have space constraints, then get a good quality kids’ gardening kit and make your child grow some plants. These kits come with all the required materials for gardening, and so, are excellent for kids, especially the younger ones.
If you are ready to invest some time, then try to grow a playhouse (along with your kids) with plants like sunflower. You may also plant some cucumber or pole beans in between. Watermelon is also not a bad choice for this purpose. Kids will enjoy growing such a playhouse that could be a perfect spot for them to play and have fun.
Gardening activities for kids can be fun, if you allow them to grow plants in specific shapes. Allot them some soil or a patch of soil and some fast-growing seeds. Let the kids decide the shapes in which they want to grow the plants. It could be anything ranging from simple square or circle to alphabets. They can also use plants with colorful flowers. In that case, collect seeds of plants with flower colors matching with the seven shades in the rainbow and grow them in a semi-circular shape.
You may also plan a movable garden on wheels. Get a wagon planter and provide your kids with soil and bedding plants of their choice. Plants like ‘tickle me’ will be much more interesting for smaller kids. Even herbs, like peppermint and basil are good choices for their unique scent.
For older kids, you may get some special cultivars that they may enjoy growing. You may opt for cultivars like blue potato, yellow tomato, purple beans, etc. You may also choose plants with edible fruits and vegetables. Kids may enjoy harvesting and consuming the fresh veggies and fruits grown by them.
Growing a windowsill garden is one of the best winter gardening activities for kids. This is the best time for painting terracotta plant pots and other such gardening accessories. You may also help the kids to make a terrarium or a bird feeder. Vermicomposting can also be done during this time.
The above said are only a few guidelines about gardening with children. You may use them as per the age of your child and his/her temperament. However, make sure to monitor these activities and help them, if needed. This is more applicable for younger kids. It will be better to go for plants that grow fast and seeds that are large and easy-growing. Go for organic gardening and avoid chemicals in any form. Ensure that the kids keep the work area clean and wash their hands with soap, once they finish their daily work in the garden. Never fail to encourage them for their efforts.
You may find a thousand other ways to make gardening fun-filled and interesting for your kids. Apart from instilling a love for nature, gardening helps kids to recognize the value of fresh fruits and vegetables. It can also be viewed as a form of exercise for kids, who would otherwise spend time watching television or sitting in front of a computer. So, let loose your creativity and come up with some unique gardening ideas that your kids will enjoy.