I might not have the best green thumb around but I’m working on it each and every day. When we first moved into our home a few years ago, I learned that the previous owner had quite the green thumb. Since we moved in during August, I was so excited to see what was going to pop up in the gardens during the upcoming spring season. I really wanted to get a good grasp on what needed to stay and what needed to go.
During that spring, I noticed that the gardens, although nice, needed to look more like us and our look and feel compared to that of the previous owners. Because I wanted to give the gardens a chance to show off, I planted a few flowers here and there as we put more focus on building a fire pit, taking down trees, and filling in gardens and lawn patches with sod.
The next spring and summer season I was pregnant and couldn’t get around to doing much with the gardens. My husband ripped out some bushes, planted some flowers here and there, and put a lot of his focus on the grass.
This year was my year to finally dig in and get my hands dirty … and I loved every minute of it. We went from garden to garden and really put our own stamp on everything. What I loved most about working in the gardens this year was that my three year old was by my side helping me dig holes, plant flowers, and spread mulch.
Even though I’m still working on honing my green thumb, having my son by my side while I garden opened up so many teachable moments.
Not only does gardening teach kids about hard work and patience, it also helps to improve life skills and well-being, as well as starts a positive connection between the child and the environment. From getting kids outside to enhancing fine motor skills to encouraging exploration, getting kids excited about gardening is incredibly important.
10 Ways to Get Kids Excited About Gardening
Here are simple ways to get kids excited about getting their hands dirty in the garden.
1.) Buy Kid-Friendly Tools
Go into any grocery store, Target, or Walmart and you’re bound to find a section dedicated to gardening. What I love most is that companies are now targeting kids by having gardening tools and gloves with some of their favorite cartoon characters. Pick up gloves, a bucket, and a few tools to help your kiddo get familiar with gardening tools and their various uses.
2.) Pick Out Flowers
As you peruse your flower options, have your child pick out a few flowers that appeal to him/her. Once home, show your child how to plant a flower and then have your child plant the flowers that he/she selected while at the store. Over the spring and summer seasons, you can have your child take ownership of the flowers by having him/her water the flowers.
3.) Create Fun Pots
I went to Walmart the other day and picked up a Terra Cotta pot and base for only a few dollars. I stopped by the paint section and bought a tube of white paint. Once home, I squirted some paint onto a paper plate, dipped my toddler’s hand into the paint, and then pressed his hand on the pot to create hand prints around the pot. I filled the pot with dirt and flowers and placed it on our porch. The activity only cost a few dollars and was the perfect activity for a busy toddler.
4.) Get Them Involved
This year, my husband and I did major overhauling of a lot of our gardens throughout our yard. Since my son is three and we have a completely fenced in backyard, it was so nice to set out our kid-safe gardening tools and have him pick them up as he wanted. He would walk over to the garden I was working in and start digging little holes with the shovel. It was so cute to watch him work up a sweat as he voluntarily pitched in to help us with the garden. He took such great pride in his work.
5.) Find Animals
While my son was helping me overhaul the gardens, we kept finding worms. I would pick up the worms, show him the worms up close, and then we would name them before placing them back into the ground. We tried to see how many worms we could find while we worked in the gardens. He loved looking for the worms and naming them.
5.) Introduce Tasks
Talk your child through each task you’re doing and why you’re doing it. That way, they can start to learn why certain tasks are done in the garden. Eventually, your child will want to try out the task. Our toddler is Mr. Independent and loves to do things on his own. So, once I explained what I was doing, he wanted to try his hand at it.
6.) Water the Flowers
I love watching our toddler water our flowers. He will drag the hose all over the yard and try to water the flowers. He’ll also help me fill the water can with water. He asks me to help him carry the full watering can to the flower beds and then he uses his muscles to lift the watering can and water the flowers. For our screened-in porch flowers, I have a smaller watering can that he can grab. He will take it up to the sink, ask me to fill the watering can, and then he’ll take the full watering can out onto the porch and water each of the flowers.
One of my favorite gardening moments with him so far happened a few weeks ago. The hose was on and he got his hands on the spray gun. With the biggest smile on his face, he squeeze on the spray gun and let the water soar all over the yard. I cracked up as I watched my husband try to sneak up on our son without getting blasted by the spray gun. The laughter that came out of our toddler was contagious.
7.) Plant Seeds
Buy a kit and plant seeds. Have your child water the seeds and watch them as they grow and grow. Be sure to pick seeds that are quick growers so that they keep your child’s attention throughout the weeks.
8.) Grow Edible Plants
Plant some fruits and vegetables to teach your child about where food comes from and how it grows. Get a basket and head out to the garden to pick the fruits and vegetables once they are mature and ripe.
9.) Plan Dinner
If you end up planting edible plants, why not create a meal plan centered on your fruits and vegetables? Get your children involved and see what types of meals can be made from the food in your garden.
10.) Make It Fun
Last but not least, make it fun. Kids wants to get dirty. Kids want to splash in the water. Kids want to play with bugs. Embrace your inner child and get dirty, splash in the water, and play with bugs with them.
What’s your favorite way to get your child excited about gardening?