Many adults find joy in gardening and creating the perfect landscaping for their home, but it can also be an ideal experience for outdoor family fun. The experience of gardening for kids is educational as well as enriching for their minds and bodies. It’s the perfect activity to share as a family and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Today, we’re exploring gardening for kids, its benefits, how to talk to them about the science of gardening, plus kids gardening activities you can do together! Learn which plants and flowers are kid-friendly and get started this spring.
Benefits of Gardening for Kids
Did you know there are loads of benefits of gardening for kids that help them during this developmental stage of their lives? It’s more than just outdoor family fun, it can help them learn and grow.
Some of the ways kids gardening helps them are:
- Responsibility: Teaching gardening for kids helps instill a sense of responsibility. Setting tasks for them to take care of the plants you grow as a family gives them a goal to keep up and teaches them the importance of being responsible with examples of what happens if they don’t follow through.
- Self-confidence: Gardening with kids helps them gain self-confidence by seeing their hard work grow and thrive. Planting and maintaining a garden with the family is a valuable lesson in keeping up with hard work. Additionally, if plants wilt or die, it’s a kid-friendly way to teach them that sometimes things simply don’t go their way but are always worth the effort to try.
- Learning: The skills and lessons of gardening for kids are numerous. As a family activity, gardening teaches them about different plants, where food comes from, and the science behind gardening.
- Cooperation: Kids gardening activities inherently promote cooperation. They depend on you to help them learn what to do and how to do it properly, making it a family effort to grow a beautiful garden. Additionally, if you have more than one child, it gives them the opportunity to cooperate with one another for the responsibilities of maintaining their garden after planting.
- Physical activity: Gardening with kids is an outdoor activity that keeps the whole family physically active. It may be planting beautiful flowers, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard work!
Helping Kids Understand Gardening Science
When it comes to gardening for kids, it’s important to know how to explain things to them in ways they’ll understand. This includes gardening science topics like photosynthesis and the plant lifecycle.
Oftentimes, children learn best through action. You could sit down and start explaining the process of photosynthesis allowing plants to synthesize food and nutrients using sunlight, but that runs the risk of losing their attention or not settling into their understanding. Afterall, it’s a relatively abstract concept that they can’t physically see happening. So how do you explain gardening for kids to understand?
One of the key ways is to start off small. Start with simple topics that you can demonstrate to them. For example, show them how composting works as you explain how the nutrients break down and become great fertilizer for the garden. You can also let them help test soil levels to see how the testing works and what the different results mean.
When it comes to more challenging topics like photosynthesis, there are opportunities to get creative while you’re gardening with kids. Instead of simply explaining the process, plant two flowers that require full sun in different locations — one sunny and one in the shade — to let them see how it impacts the plant over time. This also gives you the chance to show them examples of the plant lifecycle in action without it requiring any kind of gardening failure.
Ideas for Kids Gardening Activities
Some of the best ways to teach gardening for kids to understand and stay engaged is by making it fun. This sort of gamification of gardening activities teaches them responsibility and the science behind gardening while holding their interest and making it something they’ll enjoy. Not only is it beneficial from a learning standpoint, but it makes it all the more fun for creating memories with outdoor family fun.
Some great kids gardening activities you can do as a family are:
- Starting a vegetable garden: Planting seeds to grow vegetables not only teaches kids part of the plant lifecycle but how to grow their own food. It’s an important lesson in sustainability and a teachable moment about healthy eating. Not to mention the satisfaction they’ll get when it’s time to harvest their vegetables!
- Creating garden markers: It’s easy to forget which plants and flowers are which, especially if you’re new to gardening, too. Having children create garden markers lets them show off their creativity while reminding them what is growing in your landscaping. This is important for teaching them to remember which plants require what kind of care and adds to their learning responsibility through garden maintenance.
- Weeding the garden: Where adults may find weeding the garden to be a bore, you can make it into a game when gardening with kids. Create a fun competition to see who can get their part of the garden clear of weeds the fastest while teaching them the difference between weeds and plants. This gamification of landscaping maintenance is a smart way to get kids to learn while contributing towards the goal together.
- Watering the plants: Another chance to turn gardening for kids into a game is watering the plants. Kids love taking the hose and spraying down the plants. You can also get them their own special watering bucket to start their own set of gardening tools.
- Planting a tree: After determining the best trees to plant in your area, planting a tree is a great kids gardening activity that can be shared by the whole family. If you already have trees, exploring how to landscape around a tree with exposed roots is another opportunity for them to learn as they have fun.
- Starting a pollinator garden: Planting a pollinator garden is another great activity for gardening with kids. Not only do they get to have fun planting new flowers in the garden, but they can also learn about the importance of bees, butterflies, and other major pollinators. It’s the perfect way for them to learn about the ecosystem and how different parts work together to create a full cycle.
- Making a plastic bottle greenhouse: One of the most fun kids gardening activities you can have is making a plastic bottle greenhouse. Using just some empty 2-liter bottles, you can cut the bottles in half and drill holes in the bottom to drain the soil. Fill the bottom part with soil and plant a couple seeds then place the top back on. Keep it moist and in a warm area until the seeds are ready to be transplanted into the garden outside.
Plants and Flowers for Gardening With Kids
When you’re gardening with kids and planning flower garden ideas, it’s important that the plants and flowers you choose be safe for them to be around. This is especially important if your child is the curious type who may take a taste! Even if you have the most well-behaved children around, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Choose non-toxic plants for gardening with kids to keep it fun and take away any worries.
A few perfect plants when gardening for kids include:
- Sunflowers: One of the most kid-friendly plants around, sunflowers add a burst of color to your garden and are safe for children. Growing in zones ranging from the midwest through Upstate NY and beyond, these sun-chasing plants also give the perfect opportunity for kids to learn about the science of gardening.
- Nasturtium: These are safe, easy flowers to grow that produce blue-green leaves and colorful blooms. Perfect for gardening with kids, these plants do tend to prefer warmer, drier areas. This means they thrive best in the south, but can be grown almost anywhere until the frosts come around.
- Butterfly bush: Perfect for a child-safe pollinator garden, the butterfly bush is a semi-evergreen perennial that can grow anywhere from Upstate NY to the more southern states. In the colder winters of the north, however, you’ll need to protect them during the winter months. In warmer states, however, they’re practically evergreen. The flowers on this plant bloom in bright shades of red, white, pink, or purple and are favorites of butterflies and hummingbirds.
- Daisies: Is there anything cuter than the daisy flower? A favorite for adults and kids alike, these are relatively low-maintenance flowers for gardening with kids. Some pruning away of dead flowers (called deadheading) is necessary to keep them healthy, presenting another opportunity to teach children about the lifecycle of plants and techniques for keeping up a garden.
Gardening for kids is an outdoor family project that will create tons of happy memories. It’s also a great way to teach children about the science of gardening, how to take care of plants, and even where some of their food comes from. This season, get your kids gardening and have a blast together! Curious about where to begin? Check out the NVS Project Planner to begin budgeting for your project. You can save the plans and have them ready when you are. Additionally, you can explore our kid friendly landscaping ideas to find ways to make your backyard beautiful and functional, but still safe for the entire family.