Spring Activities for Kids: Gardening With Your Children

Planning your spring garden? Have you thought to include your children in these plans? Gardening is a great activity for kids of all ages. Plus, not only can you have fun creating a garden together, your children can also improve their math skills, learn about nature and science and even show off their artistic and creative side.

Baby Steps
If your children are new to the world of gardening, then don’t hand over an entire section of the back yard to them just yet. Start things off very simply by doing some gardening in a window box or container, which isn’t so big and overwhelming. This type of gardening is also great for people who don’t have a large backyard or don’t have any backyard at all.

As for the tools, again, you’ll want to keep things small. Look for tools that will fit well into a child’s hand. Better yet, look for tools that are designed specifically for kids. And for yourself, try to keep things in perspective. Realize that your children probably won’t make the perfect garden right off the bat, especially if they are still quite young. There will be weeds and the rows may not be perfectly even and straight, but that’s okay. Let them try and learn as they go. That’s half the fun anyway!

Age Appropriate
Children under the age of five won’t be so interested in gardening as they will be in the life that the garden contains. There are lots of bugs to see and soil to feel and dandelions to blow on, after all. Let your child explore the garden as much as she likes, under your supervision, of course. It may just be the beginning of a lifelong love affair.

Once your child starts school, he will be better able to focus on the task at hand, make plans for the garden, measure rows and read the seed packets. However, he may still be more concerned with the actual doing and creating the garden than with the final product. By the time your child is nine, though, she will likely have more desire to put extra effort into a gardening project in order to do the job well.

Making it Kid Friendly
Children love interesting spaces, so look for ways to make your gardening area more exciting. You could create a trellis out of twigs; make a multi-leveled flowerbed; use a hollowed out tree stump to camouflage a planter; or get imaginative with some rocks and boulders.

Another favorite on children’s lists is extremes. Bright beside fragrant; giant juxtaposed by tiny. Sunflowers are great because they not only grow to be so tall but also because they have such a great bright yellow color. Other kid-approved choices include cherry tomatoes, lavender and mint.

Plants that do more than just look pretty are also a terrific choice. Mimosa pudica are a very popular option because their leaves close up when you touch them. Night bloomers, like evening primrose and moonflowers, are fantastic at helping your garden seem more magical even when the sun isn’t out.

Want a garden that is frequented by butterflies? Then be sure to plant some wild flowers, which these beautiful insects love to feast on. And if your little one likes to pick you bouquets of flowers, then plant flowers that grow back the more you pick them, like snapdragons.

What to Plant Where
If your kids’ garden will be out in the sunlight all the time, then plant sun-loving flowers like morning glories, snapdragons, sunflowers, love-in-a-puff and geraniums. Gardens that have partial shade will do well with plants such as impatiens, bleeding hearts, pansies, forget-me-nots and begonias. Ferns and ivy do best in gardens with lots of shade.