As a child my love of gardening was sparked by growing things from seeds. It all felt like some kind of wonderful magic. Which, when you think about it, isn’t too far from the truth as Mother Nature is a truly magical thing!
Last year we wrote this post about getting the children involved in the garden. As we start to see the tiny hints of spring popping up around us, it feels like a good time to take another look at gardening with children.
The children of today are already growing up with a greater awareness of the environment and the need to protect the world around us. A great way to support that learning is by involving them in taking care of your garden or outside space. And the benefits don’t stop there.
Research suggests that children who are involved in gardening will perform better at school and develop a keener interest in healthy eating by learning about how food is grown.
Getting down and dirty in the flower beds or pots is a wonderful way for children to learn about nature as well as being beneficial for their body and mind. They can quite literally reap the rewards of their efforts as they watch their seeds spring into life and ultimately become beautiful flowers, fruits, vegetables or herbs.
There is no better way to bring science to life than in the garden where plants will stimulate all their senses and they can start to understand the circle of life.
Like any activity,children enjoy it most when it’s fun!
Depending on the age of the child you might find they have a limited attention span. Talking to them about what they are doing and why, will help to keep them engaged. And when they are tired of being hands on, just letting them have fun in the garden with you is enough.
Here are three easy ways to make time in the garden more engaging for little minds.
1. Have a weed pulling competition. Help the children understand the difference between weeds and plants. Then have a competition to see who can clear the most weeds.
2. Play Bug Bingo. Help prevent children developing a fear of bugs by showing them the amazing habitats and benefits of the various creatures in the garden. Give them a listof bugs to find and reward their efforts for a ‘full house’ with a healthy snack that they’ve grown themselves!
3. Start small. Children need to be kept engaged and they will be when they can see fast results from their work. That’s why growing sunflowers and runner beans are both great options for children. Alternatively, start indoors or in a pot with cress or salad vegetables.
An age old favourite is ‘Cress Egg-Heads’. You might even remember doing this yourself when you were at school!
Kids will love decorating their eggs and watching the cress grow, perfect for egg and cress sandwiches! Help boost communication skills by talking to your child about how they plan to design their egg and checking on it each day as the cress grows.
2 cotton wool balls
2 tbsp cress seeds
2 egg cups / empty egg carton
Felt tip pens
1) Crack the top of each egg and pour out the inside
2) Wash the empty shell with cold water and leave it to dry
3) Wet the cotton wool and put a piece inside each egg
4) Put the eggs in an egg cup / egg carton and sprinkle the cress seeds inside each egg
5) Decorate the outside of the egg with felt tip pens
CBeebies has a fabulous resource with lots of ideas for getting children involved in gardening, including tips to try if you don’t have a garden.
Do you have any gardening activities your children love?
Share your tips with other parents and carers on our Facebook page here or tag @cjgardensltd on your Instagram posts.