Gardening with Kids: Fun Projects to Spark a Love of Nature

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Learning to Garden with Grandma

Some of my dearest memories are from my grandmother’s garden in Florida. She taught me key lessons in plant care, like watering the roots when it’s hot outside because that’s where the plant needs the water most. 

The time spent outside during those formative years instilled in me a keen interest in plants and ideas of how I could help them grow. I wasn’t a dedicated gardener as a boy; no, I often did my chores in the garden in order to return to playing or climbing trees. But, I learned about the sweetness of hibiscus stems and how a flower turns into fruit, and respected the gifts the land gave us. 

My son is between infant and toddler, so I haven’t started gardening with him yet, but I see the wonder on his face when we walk into the backyard. The colors, smells, and fresh air engage him in a way the indoors can’t compete with. Once he’s over his “touch dirt and find out how it tastes” phase, we’ll try some more focused activities. If you want to engage your children in the garden, here are a few things I suggest.

Project 1: Delight their senses with herbs!

Herbs are fantastic plants to have in your garden. Their fragrant scents, unique tastes, and varying colors, shapes, and textures will intrigue your young ones while teaching them about the wonderful world of plants. 

This is a fun activity for you. Head to your local nursery, and have your child(ren) choose three different herbs. If you don’t already have a container, soil, and shovel, I suggest adding these to your purchase list. 

Plant the herbs together, and everyday watch them grow! Find ways to incorporate the herbs into your routine, like having your little one pluck mint to add to a fruit salad or basil leaves to garnish a dinner soup. This will help them build a relationship with plants and learn how they can enrich our everyday lives. And, because they planted the herbs (with you), they will feel a degree of pride to use “their” plants in your family meals. 

Project 2: Grow Flowers in Egg Cartons

For this activity, you will need an egg carton (or little cups that can hold ½ an egg’s worth of soil), flower seeds, and at least a cup of soil, but the amount of soil you use will depend on how many seeds you decide to start.

Follow the directions on the seed packet, and plant your seeds in the upcycled egg carton pods or cups! Your little one will love to see the seeds sprout and green grow above the surface of the soil. If your seeds don’t sprout, don’t give up, and use the opportunity to teach your child about the importance of trying again. 

There’s a magic in watching a seed grow into a plant! Keep the instructions on your seed packet close by, because you may need to transplant your flowers to a larger container when they reach a certain stage of growth. 

This activity will also teach your child how everyday household materials like egg cartons can be repurposed, which will grow an understanding of creativity and resourcefulness. 

Project 3: DIY Tea Blend!

This activity is garden-inspired, but it does not require you to grow anything yourself while still connecting your child with nature and plants. 

Acquire loose leaf dried peppermint, chamomile, and lemongrass. We recommend Mountain Rose Herbs because they are committed to high quality organic herbs, but these herbs are common and can often be found in local herb shops, and even in tea bags at the grocery store. 

Once you have your loose leaf herbs (if using tea bags because you don’t have access to loose leaf herbs, cut the bags open and add their content to a common container) you’re ready to go. Have your child smell the different herbs, and describe what they notice. Take a little bit from the jar and let them feel the plant matter (and add this to the compost/sprinkle outside after they have touched them), and talk about their observations.

After engaging with the herbs, it’s time for a tea blend! This can be done in bulk (creating a jar of tea blend) or for a single serving. 

Work with your child to decide how much of each herb you want in the blend, and add it in a consistent ratio to the jar/single serving. For example:

Example Blend 1

• 1 part peppermint

• 1 part lemongrass

• 1 part chamomile

Example Blend 2

• 1 part peppermint

• ½ part lemongrass

• 1 ½ parts chamomile

The combinations are endless! After you have put your blend together and gently mixed the plant matter around, it’s tea time! Boil two cups of water, and add your herbs. Let steep for at least 5 minutes, and strain into two cups. Add honey to taste, and enjoy this special blend you have created together. 

Please research all herbs and talk to your health provider before consuming.

Grow your relationship with the garden

Are you ready to get outside and put your hands in the dirt (or herbal plant matter) with your little one? Enjoy this special time with fresh air and good smells, and learn about the wonders of the garden together. 

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