As spring sheds the last dregs of winter, it’s a good time to start thinking about getting your hands dirty—in the garden, that is!
Playing outside is exceedingly valuable for kids. There’s a lot of research out there that delves into how proximity to nature and time spent in the outdoors impacts our well-being. The presence of things like trees, parks, green spaces, and wild areas have positive effects on our physical and mental health, stress levels, and mood. So get out there with the little ones as much as you can!
Here are some easy gardening projects so you can get your kids involved in the fun.
Make a Composting Box
Compost is also a good potential topic for you to explore with your kids. You can combine it with making a compost box and creating your own compost out of yard waste (such as fallen leaves) and kitchen organic waste. Talking about compost gives kids a chance to learn why good soil is so important in the plant growing process.
Grow Edible Plants
If you aren’t already growing some grub, you can try growing some edible plants with the help of the kids. Salad greens, like spinach and arugula, are very easy and can be grown straight from the seed. Plant them right in the ground or in a container and in a couple of weeks, you will have fresh, yummy leafy greens. You can’t get more local than your own backyard! The BBC has some great Gardening Guides to help you get started.
|Gardening Lessons for Hands-On Learning|
|The science behind gardening might come up naturally based on your child’s questions, or you can plan a “mini-lesson” to help them learn more about plants and nature.
Some topic ideas:
Grow a Rainbow Garden
Set aside some garden space for a rainbow garden! Use your garden as an opportunity for kids to learn more about colour and texture. You can use flowering plants or edible plants, and you can go for every colour you can find, or focus on a few favourites. You can get creative and create designs with different colours or stick to simple blocks or lines of colours. Check out this link to get some rainbow garden tips to help you add some flare to your backyard.
Make a Homemade Bird Feeder
Attract birds to your outdoor space, whether it is a yard or a balcony, with a homemade bird feeder. There are a lot of options, from simple to more involved. Check out these bird feeders from plastic lids, some heart-shaped hanging birdseed feeders, or easy peanut butter bird feeders made from pinecones. rom Tinker Lab, or simple plastic egg bird feeders for a convenient post-Easter project.
Do Some Weeding
Yes, weeding! Just helping with your regular gardening routine is a great activity for kids. Have them weed out specific unwanted plants (making sure they know how to recognize the difference ahead of time), or if you’re planting annuals they can get their hands dirty with you. Set them to the tasks of laying out new topsoil, compost, or mulch, and maybe get them to water the garden every couple of days to keep the plants growing strong.
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Try Veggie Container Gardening
Having a small backyard or only having a balcony does not have to limit you from trying out some container veggie gardening. There are lots of veggies that can be grown in tight spaces. A great guide is the book Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces. Using this book, I was able to grow some yummy carrots, spinach, arugula, and cucumbers on a small balcony.
Container growing is definitely kid-friendly! Kids can help with preparing seedlings, sowing seeds, watering, and preparing the soil in the containers. It’s great fun watching the plants grow from seed or seedling to flowering greenery to veggie producing plant.
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Design a Terrarium
If you don’t have access to outdoor space, create some indoor garden space! Try making a cacti-and-succulent terrarium. They are fun, easy, and gorgeous! NASA’s Climate Kids has a great how-to guide for making a terrarium mini-garden. Use any glass container and your kids can make some for every room in the house! You can even add some little toys or have a theme, like this DIY Star Wars Terrarium from Craft Foxes.
A simple tip for finishing off a terrarium nicely is to use pebbles meant for fish aquariums. They are affordable, easy to find, and come in a wide variety of colours. Use them to cover the soil of your finished masterpieces. You can use a wide straw or a long funnel to help spread out the rocks evenly over the terrarium’s soil surface.
The complex ecosystems you find outside are multi-levelled and dynamic, so they can offer invaluable spaces for children to explore, discover, and learn. Don’t underestimate what your own backyard has to offer!