Kids Gardening Activities for Any Age
Jan 27, 2024
Lately, my wheels have been turning for garden classes, clubs, and camps for kids. There are so many simple gardening activities for kids to help plant the seed (see the first activity) to inspire your kiddos to grow outdoors. When starting, spending a fortune or having a large space to grow is unnecessary. Start small, celebrate little miracles (because all of it is pretty darn miraculous), and enjoy sharing the learning experiences with those you love to teach.
Planting Seeds: It seems simple, but planting seeds in pots or directly in the ground is the ticket to to get the kids engaged to grow. Not only does seed sowing teach about the plant life cycle, but that feeling when the first small sprout breaks the soil surface instantly creates a vested interest in the well being of the plant. You'll find that kids will want to monitor and care for the growing life that they had a hand in sprouting. You can choose fast-growing seeds like radishes or beans for quick results. Or, try planting sunflower seeds and use the opportunity to teach about phototropism. Use this Sunflower lesson from the Rutabaga Education Curriculum.
Herb Garden: These multi-sensory plants are the gateway to getting kids of any age interested in growing food. Just having them rub the leaves between their fingers and absorb the various fragrances forces them to be present in the moment and can calm the nervous system. You can also do this simply by creating a small herb garden with aromatic herbs like basil, mint, and rosemary. I like to use large pots or barrels and pack them tightly. Harvest the outside leaves of each plant and use the opportunity to learn how herbs can be utilized for culinary and medicinal purposes.
Leaf Rubbings: I can't think of a better medium to help you appreciate the botanical structure of leaves while also appreciating how beautiful they can be when on display. While learning about leaves in the RE Curriculum Kinder Spring Book, we have the kids do this activity after we go on a small hunt for leaves of different sizes, shapes, and textures. Place a leaf under a piece of paper and show kids how to use crayons to gently rub over the paper, revealing the leaf's texture and shape. This activity teaches them about leaf diversity. All you need are your leaves, some paper, and crayons. Littler ones will need some assistance, and you'll be surprised how much older kids get creative with this project.
Scavenger Hunt: Develop a garden-themed scavenger hunt where kids search for specific plants, flowers, insects, or garden tools. I like to see what we have on hand and tie in anything we recently learned about. You can also tailor the hunt to be appropriate for the age you're growing with, and it's an opportunity to have the kids also use rulers (incorporate math) and magnifying glasses (for more thorough investigation). Check out this scavenger hunt I recently used with some preschools and their parents to inspire you and get your wheels turning. Kids (and adults) were engaged and truly learning with all their senses firing!
My other recommendation is just to start growing and learn as you go and grow. Use mistakes as learning opportunities and engage with your kids as much as possible when problem-solving. These small projects will help instill patience, resilience, appreciation of nature, and interest in nutrition - all while growing the bond between you and these kids as you experience it together!