With summer arriving, it’s the perfect time to plant a garden with your kids.  It’s a great family activity, there’s so much for your kids to learn, and you can eat the results.

Gardening is also a great idea for kids of all ages, if you make sure to tailor the activities to their interest level.  Even the littlest of kids will enjoy the chance to plant and grow.

Tips for Gardening with Kids:

  • Think fast!  Planting seedlings or quickly growing flowers will help keep a child’s interest.  Underground plants or slow-growing seeds might not be enough to keep a garden going for children.
  • Buy kid sized gear!  Smaller shovels, spades, and trowels are great for little hands, and don’t forget the gloves for kids who don’t enjoy getting dirt on them.
  • Plant a rainbow of vegetables, and flowers too. Gardening seems to help kids want to try new foods, and fun colors make that even better. Why have orange carrots when you can have purple? Or bright red raspberries taste even better when you pick them off your own bushes the backyard.

What to do with preschoolers (2-5 years old) in the garden:

  • Play in the water. Who doesn’t like water in the summer? Let the kids work watering the garden with kid-sized watering cans, use the hose for larger areas, or just play with the sprinkler while it’s watering the plants.
  • Dig, dig, dig! The reason sandboxes are so popular is that kids just love to dig. Why not let them dig in the garden too? Show them where to dig and they can even plant their own seedlings.
  • Save the seeds. If you save the seeds each year, you have your garden starters ready, or make seedballs (dried dirt and seeds) that you can throw into areas to plant.
  • Play with the sticks. Another fun thing to do outside on any day, but your kids will love making tiny teepees and fairy houses among their plants.

What to do with elementary schoolers (5 – 12) in the garden:

  • Make a themed garden. Plant vegetables and herbs for specific dishes, maybe Italian food or Chinese food? Design a garden to attract birds or butterflies? The possibilities are endless.
  • Keep garden journals. Take photos of your crops, track what you plant and grow, even press flowers and leaves to document your summer.
  • Have some science fun with experiments. Plant bean seeds in sun or shade to see how things grow. Use different soils, fertilizers, or amounts of water, and let your child see what they can discover.

What to do with middle and high schoolers (13 and up) in the garden:

  • Create a worm bin! Worms are awesome for composting, and a simple worm bin can be easily created and maintained by kids. Start with a waterproof bin and bedding like shredded newspaper. Add worms and feed them with scraps from the kitchen to produce compost for your garden.
  • Design a labyrinth for your garden. These winding paths can spark so much imagination, just like in the movies. Use brick pavers, stones, plants, wildflowers, whatever your imagination desires to create one of your own.
  • Create natural art. We did this on a trip to Grand Teton on a snowshoeing hike and it was so much fun. Use the bits and pieces of things you find on the ground, combined with things still growing to create art. Just don’t pick anything that is still growing!
  • Build houses for animals. Toad houses will attract amphibians that will help keep your garden free of bugs. Bird houses, baths, and feeders, bat houses, and more will bring the wildlife to your yard too.
  • If you’re growing beans or other vines, grow them up into a teepee. Check out our tutorial on how to make your own beanpole teepee in your garden.

Gardening can lead to so much learning over the summer, with the added bonus of fresh air and exercise. Kids love seeing their work grow and fresh vegetables are always great to pick and eat. We can’t wait for our garden to start growing this year. There’s nothing better than picking fresh veggies right before meals.


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