Gardening with children – easy gardening projects you can do with your kids
Gardening with your children is a great way to connect with one another and also with nature. Many children are naturally drawn to learning about gardening. Watching and waiting for things to grow is almost magical to young eyes, and being outside feels good!
These easy and fun kids’ gardening projects were suggested by real parents, so are tried and tested. They are a great way to get your children (and you!) engaged and excited in the garden.
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The benefits of gardening with children
Gardening with your children promotes healthy eating
By getting outside with your children and growing something edible, it teaches them exactly where their food comes from. Children are more likely to try foods if they’ve been involved with growing them. Who can resist a carrot freshly pulled from the ground or a little munch on some home-grown parsley?
This also extends to the kitchen. Encouraging children to cook with us and letting them sample and nibble as they go is great fun. It also connects children with the food on their plate and helps them develop healthy food habits.
Gardening with kids develops sensory skills
The garden is a sensory feast! From the smells of cut grass or blossoming trees, to the feel of the earth between their fingers and toes. Getting involved with gardening really gets the senses going.
A great exercise to try is to identify and name all the senses that are being stimulated in the garden. Get your children to touch leaves, smell flowers, listen to the birds, taste something edible you’re growing. Sensory play is one of the first things we introduce to young babies because it’s so good for their development. But older children can benefit from sensory activities and mindfulness too. It can help with language skills, concentration and a feeling of general wellbeing.
Gardening with children is a great way to stay active
We all know that exercise is an essential aspect of staying healthy. But it doesn’t always have to be bike rides, running and ball games.
Digging in the garden, pulling up weeds or walking around with the watering can are all great forms of exercise. They work lots of different muscle groups, get your heart pumping and encourage breathing lots of fresh air!
Gardening with your children teaches patience
Being in the garden provides fresh air and daylight
Spending time gardening with your children ensures you’re all getting plenty of fresh air and daylight.
Fresh air has been shown to help with digestion, regulating your heart rate, boost energy and simply makes us happier!
Similarly, a good dose of natural light each day boosts essential vitamin D levels and improves sleep patterns. It has even been shown to improve symptoms of depression and anxiety in some cases. Just make sure to apply sunscreen to everyone if it’s a sunny day because whilst a certain amount of sunlight is healthy, sunburn is not!
Gardening helps parents and children bond
Lastly, and possibly most importantly, gardening with your children helps create life-long bonds and mutual interests.
Even if your children don’t seem particularly interested in actually helping you in the garden, just being outside with them will encourage a love of the outdoors and for spending time “just being” with you.
Easy children’s gardening projects suggested by parents
To make sure these gardening projects for kids were actually achievable, we spoke to some garden enthusiast parents. We hope this helps you and your children get the most out of your gardening projects.
Mini worlds and fairy gardens
Professional garden designer Charlotte says that just by being in the garden yourself and encouraging your children to help you out is a fantastic way to get them into gardening. Children love to copy their parents and the best way to learn is by doing, so let them get their hands dirty.
Charlotte has created gardens for her clients that incorporate special children’s areas, including edible teepees and their very own veggie patches. But our favourite idea is not actually directly related to growing or gardening in the traditional sense.
Children have incredible imaginations, so encourage this by working on a fairy garden or a mini dinosaur swamp. You could even incorporate real creatures into your miniature world by including a bug hotel or planting bee-friendly wildflowers and watching the visitors come and go.
This post from Prudent Penny Pincher gives 100 DIY fairy garden ideas. We love the little details included in some of these and definitely feel inspired to try them out for ourselves!
Alternatively, this how-to guide to creating a miniature dinosaur garden is a great idea for children who are more interested in Tyrannosaurus than Tinkerbell.
Growing food with children
Charlotte, her husband Ben and their 5-year-old son Dylan also love growing their own fruits, vegetables and herbs together.
“Food is always a huge draw for children” says Charlotte. “Dylan and I love to make believe that we are farmers when we’re working on the veggie patch together and he really gets into character. He also loves eating the peas off the plant and chomping celery without actually picking it!”
Charlotte’s own Dad approached gardening in the same way with her, and she believes that by fostering those memories and associations as early as possible, our children will be drawn to the outdoors and to gardening for years to come.
We love this post from Picklebums, which gives some great ideas for easy vegetables to grow with children. If you don’t have enough space to grow anything outside, don’t worry! Have a look at our guide to starting an edible windowsill garden for some indoor gardening ideas that are suitable for children of all ages.
Growing broad beans with your children
For an easy starter project, Mum-of-two Steph, from Dorset, suggests growing broad beans. Steph’s children are both under 4, so to keep them engaged and interested she picks projects they can both get involved with.
Broad beans are particularly good if you live somewhere with a slightly cooler climate. This is because they can survive in lower temperatures than a lot of other vegetables.
Steph and her children started off by growing their broad bean seedlings in compostable pots. The children loved watching them grow indoors, but they quickly outgrew their pots and needed replanting outside.
Their local recycling system had recently changed, so they repurposed their old glass recycling box and transferred the seedlings across. The joy of compostable pots is that they can be planted into the ground or planters without removing the pots. This avoids disturbing the seedlings’ delicate roots and makes it easier for little helping hands to get involved.
To ensure maximum growth, they cut plastic bottles, from Steph’s husband’s work as a carer, to create individual propagators. They used sticks collected from the meadow near to their house to use as canes.
Broad beans usually take around 80 days to fully mature. They can be harvested and cooked whole in their pods when they’re slightly smaller, about 7.5 cm. Or wait a little longer until the pods feel nice and full. Steph says her children love helping with removing the beans from the pods, ready to cook.
A children’s gardening classic – growing sunflowers
This is one of my earliest memories of gardening with my own parents. Popping sunflower seeds into little pots of compost then watching them grow (so quickly!) into little seedlings. Then, once they were outside, being amazed at how quickly they shoot up until they were towering over me and my younger brother.
The RHS has loads of great resources and gardening tips, including this guide to sunflower growing. This is a really great activity if you’re a parent who isn’t already a keen gardener – I have been learning at the same time as my children and we’ve all been amazed as one another….and disappointed when the birds ate most of our seedlings!
Painted tin can planters
If you’d like to incorporate some crafts into your gardening, Ailuna co-founder Helene suggests this tin can planter activity. Everyone can get creative with colours and designs then you can bring them all together when they’re done and you can use them to plant flowers or to create your own windowsill herb garden.
Gardening with children – advanced level!
Mum of two Laura from Lincolnshire has worked on many garden projects with her children, but one of her recent favourites definitely falls in the “more advanced” category.
Laura and her children (aged 8 and 6), researched, designed, purchased items and created a wildlife pond in their back garden. They now use the completed pond for science and art learning, as well as it being a peaceful new area to sit and relax.
You can follow Laura on Instagram to have a look at some of the other things she gets up to in her garden, and if you’re interested in building a wildlife pond of your own, this step-by-step guide from The Wildlife Trusts is a great place to start.
A note on gardening with children and hand washing
Whilst it’s important to make sure your children’s little fingers are nice and clean after a gardening session, please take care not to over-wash! They have delicate skin and just washing for 20 seconds with gentle soap is more than enough. Don’t be tempted to scrub too hard or use anything that might damage or dry out their skin.
Gardening with children – summary
Whether you just get outside and dig a big hole, create intricate fairy gardens or go for a full-blown imaginary world, gardening with children has so many benefits. Have you involved your children with any gardening projects recently? Please drop us a comment below to let us know!
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We’re very lucky in the UK that it’s possible to find and eat locally-produced fresh food all year round. Even in the middle of winter!