Inside: Celebrate summer and all the joys it brings with these nine gardening activities for kids! The best way to learn that science surrounds us in everyday life is to touch it with your hands.
Do you love gardening activities?
I find it very enjoyable to get my hands muddy (I never wear gardening gloves) and grow tasty vegetables from scratch. What’s more, doing it together with kids encourages their inborn love of nature and keeps them outside moving and learning.
According to an article published in Clinical Medicine, evidence is mounting that exposure to plants and green spaces in general, and gardening in particular, are exactly what we need in today’s increasingly hectic environment. It benefits the mind, body, and soul. What more can you ask from a hobby?
But I hear you. Maybe the gardening mess is stressing you out. Perhaps you don’t know much about gardening or you’re not sure how to get kids involved.
Gardening doesn’t always equal mess or enormous ambition, and it’s never too late to start. As the Chinese say, life begins the day you start a garden. No pressure, lol.
Just scroll down the list I put together for you and see if anything catches your eye. Pick one project that looks doable to you, and don’t put it off; start right away!
Gardening Activities For Kids
I love that gardening teaches the art of patience. But if you are a tiny human two feet from the ground, sometimes quick results are required to keep the interest going. Did you know that you can create conditions that will help your seeds germinate in as little as one day! Grab a packet of seeds on your next trip to a store and follow our tutorial on How to Germinate Seeds in One Day. Watching the seeds swell and burst with roots and leaves will satisfy an impatient youngster.
One of the projects that my kids find very exciting is growing a Grass House. All you need to do is cut some kitchen sponges into bricks and arrange them in the shape of the house. Then sprinkle seeds on the house, water it, and watch it grow. Ask the kids to be in charge of watering, and you will be growing more than grass: you will be growing responsibility as well.
Topiary is such a fancy word. It conjures up images of English country estates filled with exotically shaped bushes and immense leafy structures. But you don’t have to go to a topiary school to make a tabletop topiary. Use sticks (or items in your recycling bin) to create a shape (we made an oval), then help an English Ivy grow in that specific shape. It’s A funky and fun addition to brighten up any desk space!
Plants start their life as tiny seeds. While there are many ways to turn a seed into a young plant, growing seeds inside eggshells is a method we find particularly exciting (and not messy!). This project is great if you don’t have a green thumb. All you have to do is to make sure that the seeds stay moist so that the coat (the outer protective covering of a seed) becomes imbibed with moisture, swells up, and breaks open.
If you’ve seen pictures of fairy gardens on the internet, you know they can be very elaborate and absolutely stunning. But our kids don’t need all that complexity. They are happy with the basics and use their imagination to fill in the gaps. Putting together a Fairy Garden is a fantastic opportunity for practicing engineering skills and technological thinking. Your kids can also learn rock science, how plants grow, the basics of gravity (“Why does this keep falling over?“), make some measurements, and practice counting (math).
Another one of our favorite gardening activities is making seed bombs. We can get our hands dirty, play with seeds, and satisfy our thirst for gardening even while it’s still cold outside. Once the weather gets warmer, we are ready to toss them in our yard! These little bombs already have all the nutrients needed for seed germination and growth, all they need is rain and sun.
The indoor aquaponics project is a fun way to learn how to cultivate plants in the water while taking care of aquatic animals like fish and snails. As proud owners of a fish tank, we find this topic fascinating! A simple aquaponic system involves a symbiotic relationship between plants and animals. Fish produce waste; microbes convert fish waste to nutrients, making plants grow, which then feed the fish. It’s a circle of life, so to speak 🙂
Planning, sowing, planting, and growing plants can seem intimidating if you are entirely new to gardening and don’t know where to start. It would help if you had someone experienced by your side to share with you the biggest gardening secret of them all… Ready? Here it goes… the easiest way to start the garden is to go ahead and just do it. You will learn a lot in the process, especially from your mistakes. As my old teacher used to say, when you don’t know how to start the problem, start the problem.
Do you know what plants are native to your area? Did you know that native plants have deeper roots? It has helped them survive over the years without much help from people. Deeper roots also mean that they can store more carbon from the atmosphere, which is better for the environment! We took a native plants class at our local park district center once and learned incredible facts, i.e. wild feverfew has a long history of medicinal use by Indians and by the US Army during WWI! There are many creative ways to use a native garden with kids to keep you learning and having fun throughout the garden season. Plus, a garden will usually grow much better if you use the plants that are happy to grow there already.
My number one favorite thing about gardening is that when we are in the garden, we are constantly learning. A garden is a canvas open to creative expression. And the gardening environment is conducive, not only to strategy and planning but to reflective thinking and relaxation. What’s your favorite gardening activity to do with kids in the summer?