Spring is upon us and it is time to start planning out your gardens for the season. Gardening can be an enjoyable activity for people of all ages, but children, in particular, can not only have fun but learn at the same time. As we all know, children are especially curious, they like to learn by doing, and love to play in the dirt.
Gardening is a great way to teach environmental awareness by exploring the workings of nature. Plus there are a variety of activities children of different ages can take part in, from planting and watering to pruning and dead-heading flowers.
Children like large, brightly coloured flowers and vegetables that grow quickly. Plants such as sunflowers, corn, nasturtiums, radishes and pumpkins are good examples. Consider using varieties of plants that have sensory and textural qualities. Examples of great sensory plants include:
- Touch – woolly lamb’s ear, succulents (such as aloe vera), bottlebrush species, snapdragons
- Taste – basil, strawberries, peas, rosemary, carrots, cherry tomatoes
- Smell – jasmine, sweet peas, lavender, pelargoniums, native mint bush, lemon balm
- Bright colour – daffodils, rainbow chard, marigolds, pansies, sunflowers
- Sound – corn, bamboo and grasses rustle against each other when the wind blows.
Safety is always important to remember when the kids are helping you in the garden. Ensure they have their own properly sized tools and that all chemicals are not in use. Organic gardening is the safest way to go if you are including the kids in the gardening activities.
Some tips for gardening with children:
- Give them their own garden beds, this can be raised beds, a section of a larger garden or containers
- Get the proper tools that are specifically-sized for little hands, including gloves
- Engage them in the entire process from planning to planting to harvesting
- Show off their work, help instill pride in their work