As the summer holidays stretch in front of us, you may be wondering: “How will you keep the kids occupied when they're not in summer camps or on trips abroad?” The answer may be lying in your very own backyard!
There are many ways you could recruit them as little helpers into the garden whilst keeping them out in the open, busy AND away from those screens.
What’s more, there are many benefits to your child’s development.
How Gardening Helps a Child’s Development
In short, it is a great way to get them out in the fresh air, actively communing with nature.
- It’s good for their physical and mental health and their creativity. Playing in the dirt is also proven suitable for your immune system
- Getting your child involved in growing their vegetables in the family plot may also improve their approach to eating fresh organic food and food waste. It will enhance their appreciation of vegetables and fruits
- Planting and growing are truly essential life skills worth passing on and something that may lead to a lifetime of pleasure. A practical life lesson brings that old biblical adage to life in the most positive way: “As you sow, so shall you reap.”
- What’s more, you should cherish this opportunity to spend quality time with them whilst also getting some essential and educational chores done together.
We’ve listed some of the handiest ways to get them working with you in the garden below.
How to Get The Kids Excited About Gardening
Give Them Their Own Growing Space
Start by giving them their corner of the plot, vegetable patch or pots to call their own. Even if you have a simple terrace or balcony, this is still possible - let them have their window box or basket to plant in.
This will give them a great sense of ownership of the process.
Get them Excited by Picking Seeds Together.
This is a great way to motivate them - pick some seeds together at the local garden centre or horticultural store so they can visualise and choose the plants they will be cultivating.
If harvesting seeds in the preceding winter from seed pods or extracting seeds from vegetables, show them how. Build the anticipation and pass on the skill.
They will even have fun if you get them involved in cataloguing and labelling the various seeds every autumn. A botany lesson in the making!
Get them Excited by Picking Garden Tools Together.
This is another way to build excitement and motivation for the task ahead. Get them to pick their child-sized gardening tools and gloves.
Pick Engaging Plants That Children Will Enjoy
Be sure to pick the plants that will capture their imagination.
The trick is to pick plants that will proliferate fast and provide a visual hit that will keep them motivated.
- Fast-growing creepers with colourful blossoms will be fun as they will have to keep checking and guiding their creepers daily. It may involve building stakes which can be a fun DIY activity too
- Sunflowers and Hollyhocks are always winners because they are so iconic and fast-growing
- When it comes to fruit and vegetables, consider growing berries or tomatoes. A colourful harvest is in store, and picking the fruits is all fun
Gamify Your Gardening Tasks
Children love competitions, games and races, so why not make the gardening chores part of their play. Here are some ideas
- Get them to sow seeds into their own individually labelled pots and measure which ones are growing faster
- Make weeding a competition. Give a prize for the most weeds pulled
- Turn watering time into a lovely moment. Encourage them to use their watering can and teach them how to ensure every plant is fed
- Teach them how to pick and harvest and pick the right herbs, salad leaves or vegetables every time you’re prepping the dinner
Get Crafty in the Garden
Whilst you may be busy doing the heftier and more dangerous tasks, why not get the kids into creative garden-inspired crafts?
- Get them to draw their favourite plants and flowers for hanging outside
- Teach them how to pick the right flowers for pressing and preserving
- Get them started on a wind-catcher or wind chime craft project
- Build your bird feeder
Start a Fairy Garden
Why not get the little ones to start a fairy garden. Of course, you could begin by sourcing fairy doors and ornaments in the gardening stores. But the real fun is in making your own.
- Get them a corner of the yard or flower bed where they can plant their seeds and lace their fairy door
- Find some smooth pebbles or shells, perhaps from your latest visit to the beach and get them to create a path for the ‘Fairies.’
- On your next forest walk, remind the kids to forage for natural items they can repurpose into ‘fairy furniture. Items like curved pieces of bark, seed pods, pine cones etc., can be made into fairy garden installations!
- Now all you have to do is add a dash of imagination and hours of fun awake. For example, you could move things around or add “fairy gifts’ overnight. This will encourage the little ones to check into their garden every morning to see if any “Fairy activity has occurred!
Take Care of The Birds and the Bees
Whatever about the Flora, get them excited about the fauna too! Here are some ways.
Mind the Minibeasts with a BUG Hotel
Gardening is a great way to get the kids to appreciate biodiversity too. You can use this time outdoors to build an “ insect hotel “ with them—a great way to keep the biodiversity in your garden thriving.
All you need is a wooden frame and the ability to forage for twigs, seed pods, and cones. And other organic materials.
Decorating a Birdhouse
You can get them into the birdwatching habit by kicking off with a Birdhouse.
- Start by sourcing a simple Wooden Bird house.
- Get the kids to paint it with non-toxic paint.
- Fill it with suitable nest material, e.g. dry sawdust or wood chips in the bottom.
- Place in a quiet, sheltered spot in the garden ideally at the start of spring as nesting takes place from early Spring.
- Get a bird-watching book for kids and help them spot and identify the different wildlife.
- You can also provide a bird feeder nearby and get the kids to fill this regularly.