Spring is a wonderful time for children to enjoy the outdoors, and what better way to enjoy it through some fun gardening activities for kids.
Not only is it fun but opens their minds to a huge array of future experiences and learning opportunities, that will stay with them for life.
I have chosen a few areas to start with and will touch on them briefly in this article.
Growing from Seed
When I think of Spring, it conjures up images of trees covered in blossoms, warm breezes, fresh spring rains, butterflies, new born animals and generally the evidence of new life beginning all around us.
Watching something grow from a tiny seed is still fascinating to me today as an adult and a magical experience for young children.
Growing a seed
- choose a variety of fast and slow growing seed-sprouts, beans, cress and grass seed are great for children
- a wet paper towel in the base of a glass jar is a good way to start off bean seeds-children are able to view the process
- grass seed in a yoghurt pot of seed mix makes a fun activity, draw a face on the pot and as the grass grows it looks like hair
- Some seeds can be germinated in water and this is a wonderful way for children to see how the root system develops and the leaves sprouting as the seed splits
- create a chart and measure the progress of growth over time, note changes and allow children to explore and ask questions
- Find some pictures or books that that children can refer to to make comparisons
While the seeds are growing children can learn about what they need to help them grow,and how to care for them, such as water, soil, and sunlight.
Preparing a Garden
It won’t be long before the seeds are ready to plant. So how is your garden looking?
If you have a small space, some space saving ideas are to create some boxed gardens or even use old tyres around the place in different locations. Large plant pots are a great idea if you live somewhere without a garden or do not have permission to dig it up.
You may already have an existing, established garden to add to.
If you are starting from scratch, this is the perfect time to get the kids involved.
Start with a good base of rich compost and dig this into your soil. This will often turn into a worm hunting exercise for most children.
Try to encourage them to return the worms to the garden and if they are finding lots, this is a good sign that you have good soil to grow things in.
You can add organic fertilizers if you feel the need and water well. Let your garden settle for a day or too and you may need to turn it again to loosen the soil and break up any clumps that have formed.
You are ready to plant those little seedlings now.
Gardening is not only fun, but also provides the opportunity to teach our little ones about sustainability and the skills in being able to produce their own food.
An excursion to a garden centre to purchase seed or seedlings could be a very educational and enjoyable activity for the kids as well.
They could plan out there ideas for their garden before hand and have a budget to work with. A good exercise and practice for learning the value of items and developing an understanding of the wider world.
What a wonderful way for children to learn to produce their own organic fertilizer for the garden. And what child does not love worms?
So you have bought or set up your worm farm. These come in various sizes and can be purchased through most DIY , garden centers or hardware stores for a range of prices. (This will be covered in a future review in more detail.) You can also purchase your worms in some of these places.
Start your farm off with some damp newspaper and a small amount of compost. Worms like some moisture but not too much. Add some old leaves and debris or straw if you like. This is their bedding.
Once you have added your worms, let them settle into their new environment and then begin adding your food scraps.
What kind of food scraps should you add?
- coffee grounds
- tea bags
- raw and cooked vegetable scraps
- fruit scraps
- Paper, shredded
Do not feed:
- Citrus or peel
- onion skins
- any acidic type foods
When the worm farm is established it will produce worm castings, and worm tea for garden fertilizer. These can be collected and used directly in the garden. Some worm farms have a tap at the bottom that you can use do collect the worm tea and others have a drip tray that you can slide out.
Build or buy your compost bin. building could be a fun learning experience and an amusing way to spend some time with the kids.
Compost is simple to make but does take time. You wont be able to use for at least three months until it is ready. When it is ready to use it will add richness to your soil and help to grow good healthy plants.
Begin by collecting and adding these types of materials:
- Garden waste
- lawn clippings
- egg shells
- newspaper shredded
- Vegetable and fruit scraps
- coffee grounds
- leaves and plant materials
- avoid adding cooked foods and meat to your compost
You can also add a little garden lime to the mix and cover the compost to create a hot and moist atmosphere to assist in breaking down the materials.
Children can help with sorting their own scraps and separating the compost and worm farm scraps into different containers. You could put pictures of the right type of food scraps on each container for young children to identify.
The final word
In this article I have have touched briefly on some of the fun activities that children can be involved in outdoors in the garden. I have kept this simple to begin with as it is directed at involving young children and does not have to be perfect. At this stage it is all about trial, error and experimenting.
There are many ways that you can extend on these ideas and be creative with them. There is so much learning for kids in these areas. To be able to teach sustainable practices to our little ones now, is so important for their future.
They are being able to learn in ways that are meaningful to them and as they begin to see the results of the work, and the food they produce, they will begin to value this knowledge and new found skills.
I really hope you enjoy your future outdoor pursuits with the children and produce some amazing crops.
Please feel free to leave any questions or comments in the box below, and share any experiences you have had too.