Nothing beats creating a sense of awe and wonder about the natural world in kids, right? So, you wonder how to start gardening with kids?
Sounds brilliant. I am right there with you. I see it now. Laughter, sun shining down on our bodies, harvesting vegetables, my kids eating the vegetables, my kids caring for the garden…
Sounds romantic. Sounds dreamy.
What about this scene? Dirt so far up your nostrils you believe it must be invading your brain, one child having a tantrum because he doesn’t want to get his hands dirty, one child sitting naked in the garden bed, one child dumping 25 tomato seeds in one tiny pocket in the soil, a hose pouring gallons and gallons of water on your poor drowning plants…
Sound frightening. Sounds stressful. Sounds real.
How to Start Gardening with Kids – Mindset
All of the above situations might happen. Actually, you should expect that these things will happen. The difference is in how you respond to the uncertain results of gardening with kids. You could embrace every moment, or you could turn the proverbial nose in the air.
Want my two cents?
Embrace the moments. The dirt, the crying, the failure, the joy of being naked in the soil? All these circumstances are what make the successes – both short term and long term – of gardening with kids worth it.
Have faith. Your kids will value your efforts. Someday.
Let's be honest, gardening with kids is not always a walk in the park. Fun, yes. Successful? Hmmm…I have to think about that one.
Part of my mission as a mom, a gardener, and a teacher is to redefine the idea of success. Gardening with kids comes with all sort of caveats.
There is no question that a garden with a reaping harvest meets the criteria for success. When gardening with kids, however, there has to be more to how we define success. This part is difficult because harvesting real live plants is as concrete as it gets. A child directly understands that success because it is tangible.
There are many ways to look at success when gardening with kids. Bottom line: if you are attempting to garden with kids, then you are headed in the right direction.
What a Successful Garden? Questions to Ask.
- Are the children involved?
- Are the children happy?
- Are children working independently?
- Are the children working with purpose?
- Are the children working well together?
- Are the children effectively resolving conflict?
- Are the children asking questions?
These are the questions to ask yourself. Gardening with kids is not easy. Gardening with kids requires you to put their learning and their experiences first. Furthermore, it requires to you accept that fact that most of what you're doing in the garden with a child trumps any harvest you may reap. That takes a big leap of faith. You have to hold onto that fact, though.
Redefining your idea of success and your idea of perfection is critical in gardening with kids. As I mentioned gardening with kids is no walk in the park. Think hard about what defines success in your garden as you work, learn, and teach with children. The ballgame looks a whole lot different.
How to Start Gardening with Kids – Activities
- Seed Tape: How cool is this Seed Tape? Kids would truly enjoy creating it. Plus you can incorporate math! Spacing seeds is a critical component to planting a garden. Valuable knowledge for kids!
- DIY Planter: Check out this super easy to put together DIY Newspaper planter! Kids love to create their own version AND the planter actually works really well!
- Worm Tower: Worms are an important part of our ecosystem! Teach kids about gardening and build a fun worm tower for your outdoor space!
- Seed Star: Create a Magic Seed Star with Kids and you will make their day! A star is a fantastic and fun shape but encourages then children to be creative and choose their own shape. Be sure to space the seeds accordingly!
- Storybook Garden: Planning is an important part of gardening. Teach kids how to plan a garden by making it fun with a theme. I adore this Storybook Garden Activity from Kitchen Counter Chronicles.
- Pizza Garden: One of my all-time favorite books is Roots, Shoots, Buckets, & Boots: Gardening with Kids. In the pages, the author describes how to make a Pizza Garden. What a perfect activity for first-time gardeners! Here is a fun video on How to Build a Pizza Garden.
- Herb Garden: Probably the most ideal sensory experience for children is in a garden. Creating an Herb Garden with Kids takes that experience to a whole new level!
- Gardening Tools: Kids love tools and they love to be helpful. So, naturally, if you can get your hands on kid-sized gardening tools, you're on your way to success!