Gardening Activities: The Best Bets For Your Age
Kids love to dig in the dirt. Planting seeds, caring for them, and watching them sprout is a magical experience for kids of all ages. Here are some activities, grouped by age, to ensure that everyone in your family has an enjoyable time in the garden.
The Preschool Set: 2-3 years olds
Preschoolers love to help. There are all sorts of tasks a preschooler can handle: digging, watering, making piles of weeds or hunting for worms and roly poly bugs. Children this age benefit from supervision in the garden, especially if you treasure your tomato plants or care to avoid tears from rosebush thorns. Engage your little ones in preparing a bed for planting—extra digging and turning never hurt a garden bed—or invite them to gently pack soil around a plant you have just placed in the garden. And, remember: it may not be perfect, but their sense of pride will surely overwhelm your need to have a straight row.
The Kindergarten Crowd: 4-5 years olds
Like their younger counterparts, Kindergarteners love to be involved and now have the attention span and motor skills to participate with a bit less supervision. Allow them to make choices and, as Maria Montessori famously said, “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” Go to the nursery together to choose plants. If she would like to plant watermelons, sunflowers and cauliflower, do it. This is a great opportunity to begin to make the connection between the food that you plant and the food that you eat. You can also explore the life cycle of a plant, discuss what it needs to grow, and ensure that your child has a role at each step of the way.
The Elementary School Bunch: 6-10 years olds
Now that you are a reader, you have a whole new set of activities as a young gardener. Talk with your parents about which plants you would like to plant the garden and how they should be arranged. Draw a garden plan. What color combinations do you like? Which vegetables and fruits should you try? Get out the paints and make plant markers. Or, choose seeds and start seedlings indoors that you can then transplant outside. If you don't have the space for a garden in your yard, consider container gardening. Containers make beautiful accents and can also be host to stunning tomato plants or juicy strawberries!
The Middle School Gang: 10-13 years olds
Get out your graph paper and tape measure! You now have the skills to design a garden on paper and, literally, transplant that into the soil. There are many variables to take into account: how much space do you need for your flowers or pumpkin patch? Which plants attract butterflies and honey bees? Do your plants need supports? With a bit of research and a little help you can plant a lovely garden and build arches and trellises, turning your backyard into your own Eden. And, perhaps, even your own outside room for you and your friends to hang out!