You know what it’s like when the kids are off – you want them to do something other than just watching telly for 6 weeks. It’s easy to let the Playstation babysit for you, but you know you should be doing something to get them out of the house. Day trips are nice, but who’s go the time and the budget to go out every day, plus I’m sure there can’t be 42 Zoos or kids play areas in the area. Plus if you anything like me, you don’t want to just turf your kids out on the streets (is that because its not safe, or because I can remember how much trouble I got into…?).
Gardening with kids is a wholesome, educational activity that will enrich their knowledge and appreciation of the world they live in. But it’s now good clean fun.
Kids ‘n’ water and kids ‘n’ mud are great combination for hours of fun, but you are gonna need a bit of a clean up operation after every session. Using old clothes is a good idea, and every garden centre will want to sell you kids gloves and gardening aprons which will also help the reduce the mess they will get themselves in a little bit. But at the the end of the day they are gonna come in up to their eyes in muck, and I for one think its a good thing! If my kids are outside, learning and contributing and having fun then go for it guys, if a bit of extra washing is the price I have to pay then bring it on.
Before you start your kids gardening activities, make sure you plan the garden in a place that’s highly visible, to both the kids and visitors. Make it somewhere that they will walk past every day, or close to the house so they can see it from the windows. When they see the slight changes every day they will be thrilled and it will remind them to look after their spot.
Your young ‘uns will be mightily proud of their garden. They will love showing what they have achieved to friends and relatives. You can really show that they own the patch by getting them to make signs and placards for the plants to tell everyone what the plants are and who planted them. You can put pictures of what the plants will look like so the children know exactly what it is they are planting and what to expect.
Don’t be afraid to let your kids make mistakes in their garden. Everyone learns by making mistakes and your kids will surprise you with their problem solving skills, and hopefully their ability to clear up their own mess!
Kids will more often than not choose plants and flowers with bright colours, and more variety of colours the better. Here’s some bright flowering plants your kids will love:
Yep – kids and mud. The age old great combination. Planting seeds involves a lot of what kids love to do – moving mud and water by hand from one pot to a smaller one, and digging those fingers in to plant the seeds. Kids love doing this job and it will keep them entertained for hours. Make sure you have an area that you don’t mind getting messed up and is easy to clean. A bench or shed is ideal, but a path or patio is fine.
The raw materials are cheap as chips – pots, compost and seeds – and are available from every garden centre and most supermarkets. Make sure you follow the instructions for the kind of seeds you are planting and make sure you have somewhere to put them, even if it’s just lining them up on the kitchen window sill.
Your kids will be overjoyed when the first seedlings start to poke through the soil. They will really feel that they have done a great thing and will be excited to look after them and see how quick they grow.
Avoid hose pipes. Hose pipes are deadly weapons in the hands of kids and whilst they will have the best time ever, your enthusiasm for gardening will last one soaking at the hands of a 7 year old with a hose. Get them watering cans instead, you can get kids watering cans anywhere and you can even use beach toys.
If you haven’t got an outside tap, you could use a big bucket for the kids to dunk their cans in. Either way, supervise the proceedings closely or a water fight will ensue. In fact, don’t bother with the supervision and let the kids have some water fun, just plan your escape route in advance.
Show your kids the best way to water plants, concentrating on the roots and the soil, not the leaves and be sure they know not to over water.
Give your kids a notebook or diary for them to record their activities and the progress of the garden. Every day or week they can draw pictures of the plants as they grow, they can describe how they planted them and write about how they are looking after them. Kids love drawing and writing about themselves so you shouldn’t have too much trouble reminding them to fill them in every few days. What’s more your kids will be really proud of the books they have written (and their teaches will be impressed with them and you when they find out).
You can get them to find pictures of what the plants they are growing will look like when they are mature, either from magazines, the internet or from the old seed packets. This is a good way of setting the goal – it makes it more that just a fun activity in the moment when there is a final goal in mind.
The techie parents among you can download journal apps to tablets and phones where the kids can add entries and photos of their gardens. Keeping a journal will help maintain the kids interest in the garden, and it’s another half hour every day or so where you don’t have to supervise them too closely or find them something to do.
I hope you can see that getting your kids out in the garden with you will help fill out those long summer weeks. Whats more, you’ll be bonding with them and giving them skills and interests that will last a lifetime. Kids love the sense of achievement that comes with growing plants and they will feel very grown up because they have been engaged in adult activities, and what’s more they will own a patch of the garden all to themselves.
So in the words of the Why Don’t You? kids program from days gone by, it’s time to switch off the television set and go do something less boring instead – gardening activities for kids!
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