This is a collaborative post by guest writer Leona S. Green and myself.
Basic gardening is a fantastic learning activity for kids. It requires a lot of hard work, but still appeals to both little ones and older children. In the same messy-fun vein as painting or molding clay, planting vegetables, flowers, or root crops allows them to get dirty, build skills, and learn about life at the same time.
Here are four creative gardening-themed activities for kids that will challenge their creativity and resourcefulness:
Make Your Own Hanging Plant Baskets
According to Tesco’s online gardening guide, hanging baskets are usually made from “lightweight wire frames, plastic or natural fibres.” Get creative with your kids, teach them how to be resourceful! Find containers you can put a little dirt and seeds into. Don’t forget to punch holes in the bottom so it drains properly when being watered. This is a great time to talk to your kids about what plants need to thrive – sun, water, good soil, and a safe place to grow. Then discuss reasons plants die: Too much water, not enough water, crowded roots, no sun, or inadequate drainage. Let your kids have their own gardening tools and show them how to use them and store them properly. Have them find places to hang half baskets, such as the outside walls of your home or pieces of plywood (that can also be painted and decorated), make window boxes, or let them use wire or a thick string to hang plants from hooks.
Tip: The most ideal plants for this project are dwarf conifers, petunias, begonias, and geraniums.
Design a Decorative Water Garden
Here’s a cool project for creative and science minds alike! Kids can make a small table-top water garden. Plants like an Azolla fern or lettuce thrive well when their roots are submerged in water. In order to do this, all your child will need is a small bowl, a few pebbles, a small amount of soil, and the plants! To begin, find a bowl or container to put the garden in. Clear glass is ideal. Place the pebbles in the bottom of the bowl, then a layer of soil over that. Bury the roots of the chosen plant in the soil, then pack the dirt down hard around it. Gently pour distilled or purified water in the bowl to the desired depth. Place the water garden in a place where it will get bright light but not direct sun.
Create a salad bar
Teach your kids to eat healthy in a fun, hands-on way by letting them create their own salad bar. Let them plant these fast-growing vegetables: Lettuce, English peas, kale, cucumbers, radishes, baby carrots, and spinach. You can easily reap your harvest in a few weeks and then it’s feast time!
Emma tasting the peas she grew herself.
Make an Insect Hideout
Not every insect found in your garden aims to ravage your plants. Enter learning opportunity for kids! Which bugs are helpful for their garden? Critters like the ladybug or praying mantis are effective at curbing the number of pests without hurting the plants. You can order ladybugs in bulk and release them into your garden together, or dig up earthworms and put them in your potted plants.
Why not make an insect hideout? Have your kids use sticks, pebbles, and leaves to do this, making a small shelter for friendly insects.
Have any other ideas? Share them in the comments!