Things may feel pretty gloomy at the moment but the good weather is keeping our spirits high. Now that spring has sprung, if you're lucky enough to have a little bit of outside space, it's a great time to get the whole family involved in some children's gardening. Whether your kids are potty for petunias or keen for beans, these 7 top gardening ideas for kids are bound to help them find their green fingers and get them involved.
Tackle Those Weeds
Weeding may not seem like the most exciting part of gardening, but it's a great place for children to start. Start by pulling on some gloves - if you don't have enough for the whole family, washing up gloves work well too. Grab a trowel and show the kids how to pull the weed out from the roots. Getting them to listen for the 'snap' as you pull them out is a great way to get them to concentrate. If the weeds have slightly taken over your garden, taking a before and after photo so that you can see the difference is a brilliant way to help the kids feel like they've really achieved something. Once the weeds are taken care of, why not do a bit of deadheading? Show your children how to spot which flowers have died and how to carefully chop them off the plant. If your kids are old enough then give them some scissors and let them have a go or, if you want to be in charge of the cutting, get your children to be in charge of spotting which flowers are ready to go in the compost heap.
Plant Some Quick Growers
Gardening is a perfect way for kids to see how patience and hard work can give them incredible results, but we know that not all children are that patient. That's why it's a great idea to see if you can get hold of some quick sprouting seeds so your children can see results in 10 days. Sunflower and cress seeds are perfect options if you have them at home and if not, why not see if the supermarket has any on your next trip for essentials. Once your kids see that first sprout, they're likely to become much more invested in caring for their plants.
Part of the joy of gardening is the mess! It’s a good idea to find some of your kid’s old clothes to use as their designated gardening gear. Don’t worry about the mud, or even gloves - getting hands on in the mud or feeling the flowers is a great sensory experience and part of the fun of it all! As well as their gardening clothes, you could invest online in some children's gardening tools, it’s an easy way to provide them with a sense of independence and ownership of what they’re doing.
Water That Garden
Watering is another simple way to get children involved in gardening - now the sun is set to hopefully make a more regular appearance, the plants will definitely need it! Explain to your kids why the plants need watering and show them how much is a good amount then let them take control. Remember, using watering cans or jugs instead of the hose is a good idea if you want to minimise unwanted water fights!
If your children aren't too keen to get stuck into the soil then there are plenty of other garden ideas for kids - a great way to ease them in is by getting creative. If you have any old pots in your shed then give them a wash, dig out the arts and crafts box and let the kids decorate away! If you know what you’re going to plant then why not label the pots or get the paints out to add some colour. Sticking things to the outside is also a good way to add texture and twigs, acorns and other things you might find on your daily walk work really well. You could even use leaves or pine cones to print some patterns on using paint.
Gardening is a perfect outdoor activity to do at home, but we know that not all children have naturally green thumbs so a great way to keep them interested is by looking out for wildlife. Once you've all got your gloves on, get stuck into the soil and see if you can find any worms, ladybirds, beetles and butterflies, there is a whole world down there. Don’t forget to look up too, just because we’re staying in doesn’t mean the birds are! If you're lucky, you might even spot a squirrel or a sleepy hedgehog. Why not combine wildlife watch with a homeschool lesson and get your children to look up fun facts about the animals you’ve found.
Grow Something Indoors
Even if you don’t have a garden, growing something is a perfect lockdown activity and there are plenty of plants that love a sunny spot inside the house. The easiest option is cress in an egg shell, something lots of us (and maybe even your children) have done before. If you haven’t, it's very easy to do. Next time you’re using eggs, try and crack them near the narrower top into a bowl (to use in an omelette later), wash out the shells carefully and pop them back in the egg box ready to use. If your kids want to, you could decorate the shells. Googly eyes work brilliantly as the cress really looks like hair. Fill the egg shell with a soaked cotton wool ball, kitchen towel or some compost and sprinkle the cress seeds on the surface. Spray them with a bit of water and then again every few days. That’s it! You should see sprouts in a couple of days and the cress will be ready to eat in about a week. It's delicious in egg sandwiches or salads, which the children can help make.
So there are just a few ways to get into gardening with your children. Remember that starting with the simple stuff is a brilliant way to get them interested and being able to see results might help to make them more invested. As well as gloves, don’t forget about sunscreen and hats while you’re getting your green fingers!