Half term Activities – Pottering around in the Garden with Kids

Parents often send us suggestions for activities to do with children. What could be a more natural thing for a child to do? Children are naturally curious and love playing in the dirt – gardening is perfect. Plus you get to spend some longed for quality time with your children. From planting tiny seeds in the dirt to watching the plants grow into beautiful flowers or even better, something they can eat at the end of their hard work! Not only is spending time with your children doing something together important but the simple pleasure of teaching them about nature.

Gardening with kids

  • Where to start
  • The easiest way to get your child interested in gardening is to give them their own plot – very small for younger children.  Also be prepared to do a little behind the scenes work that they don’t need to know about – at this early stage small children don’t really need to know the ins and outs of everything that is encompassed in looking after vegetables. At this stage they are more likely to be interested in the nurturing process – planting watering and sporadically checking on the growth of the plants.

    Equip your child with their own little gardening tools, this will help contribute to their sense of responsibility and let them know you are serious about them having their own little gardening plot and allow them to maintain it themselves.

  • What to grow
  • As far as flowers go it by far the best ones to grow are sunflowers – children love the fact that these flowers will grow and grow and if you can have a measuring chart beside it this will delight as they can see just how high it will grow.  Sunflower seeds are the perfect size for little fingers to plant and they can also be a source of amusement when they grow to the same height and then taller than them. Other bedding flowers are also suitable but make sure they are brightly coloured and will make the process more fun.

    A few quick and easy vegetables that they will enjoy growing are most probably the salad varieties. Ones that grow quickly and they can actually see growing. Lettuce, Cherry tomatoes, Squashes and of course not forgetting fruits such as Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries- The sort of foodstuffs that they can eat straight away! Many of these can be grown indoors too; they also require minimum maintenance apart from being watered, watched and eaten. Also a great way to encourage children to eat more veggies – if they grow them, they understand where they came from and nothing can taste as good as something you’ve grown yourself!

    It doesn’t matter if you haven’t got much room – there are many varieties that you can grow indoors and they don’t take up much room at all. Growing small vegetables on a windowsill planter or on a balcony are all possible; flowers can be grown in pots and then turned into a beautiful table decoration once the growing period is over and can make a child feel very proud of their achievements.

    Vibrant colours are attractive to a child that’s why tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and strawberries are all appealing. Why not grow your own pasta sauce? Alongside some cherry tomato plants you can also grow some Basil and oregano. Easy for little ones to look after and you can then help them to turn them into a yummy pasta sauce – perfect for helping them learn about where food comes from.

  • Keeping It Fun
  • One way of holding a child’s interest is if you help them to keep a journal about the flowers they are growing. Take photos and let them write it (if they are old enough to do so) or draw pictures allowing them to record their plants progress as they go.

    Remember the safety aspect of things when gardening children, cat dirt is a dangerous thing if it isn’t cleared away properly as it can transmit toxoplasmosis – a nasty parasite should it be transferred to little fingers. Gardening gloves for children should always be worn. Check for poisonous plants and make sure they can’t gain access to a shed should they choose to go out in the garden on their own, we forget how harmful everyday items can be for children if they fall into little hands – of course ponds should have the appropriate cover on them so the child can’t access them and fall in by accident. Finally sun protection on the sunniest of days is a must.

    There is more to gardening with children than just letting them plant a few seeds – it’s also a vital learning process for them. Be prepared for them to get muddy and wet, they will forget about their plants from time to time whilst the plants are growing – this is to be expected because in a child’s mind two weeks is ages and they will expect to see a flourishing plant by the next day! Be prepared to help them look after and harvest them but above all remember to have fun! The BBC’s Gardening with Children has plenty of facts and projects for you to follow in case you get lost!

    Image: Rachel Tayse 

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