Fun and Easy Activities to Get Your Kids Interested in Gardening
Oct 30, 2023
At our recent Rutabaga Garden Tools photo shoot, over 20 kids came to learn, play, and dig in! To keep things educational, fun (and not chaotic), we needed a way to keep the kids somewhat organized and spread around the garden. So, the best way to do that was to have a Scavenger Hunt!
Scavenger Hunts are great individual or group activities that promote both confidence and teamwork, and they allow you to use what you have on hand and in an outdoor space. Kids also experience the tasks with all their senses, creating more memorable opportunities to plant the seeds of learning!
I created this Scavenger Hunt, which could be used as is or as a guide to help you spark interest among young aspiring gardeners. I've detailed below some tips to plan ahead and for gardeners of all ages and experiences to feel successful.
Dig for Potatoes
- Next time you're at the grocery store or Farmers Market, pick up some organic red potatoes.
- Find a space within your garden or landscape you can dig into. You can also use a grow bag, a large pot, or a trash can.
- Keep track of how many you bury, and plant those taters anywhere from 3-6 inches deep.
- Explain to kids that sprouted potatoes are used to grow new potatoes (called tubers) and grow underground from the roots as the plant eventually breaks the soil and grows above ground.
- Using a rounded scoop (so as not to pierce the potatoes), let the kids unearth and count how many they find. If multiple children are there, they can work together or have them rebury the spuds and see who can find more!
- Then - if you want to plant potatoes for real - check out this post I wrote back in May!
Plant Onion Bulbs
- This time of year, you can find Onion Bulbs at your local plant nursery or in small bags at the grocery store.
- Have the kids use a weed-removing tool to make a 2" deep and narrow hole into well-draining potting or garden bed soil. Planting onions can be done in the ground, a garden bed, and even a soil-filled pot or garbage can with holes. (Side note - onions make great companion plants as they can deter pests from other crops.)
- Plant the onions pointy-side up and then give planted areas a deep watering.
- (Optional) Mark the hole with a popsicle stick to help with even spacing.
- Water 1-2 times/week and practice patience as you wait (between 1-2 weeks) for sprouts to emerge from the soil. As your onion grows underground, you can trim the leaves to add to recipes and salads!
Plant Lettuce Seedlings
- Pick up a 6-pack of lettuce seedlings at any small or large plant nursery.
- Ensure you get some good soil, planting trowels, and use the planting directions on the Scavenger Hunt to keep the plants from being shocked in their new location.
- As each plant grows, harvest the outside leaves and let new leaves grow from the center. This method of harvesting allows for more greenery/salad-making bang for your 6-pack initial investment buck!
- If you want more lettuce-growing tips, check out this post I wrote last year about how to grow a Salad Bar!
Sow Pea Seed
- Pea seeds are my favorite to sow with little gardeners because the dried-out peas are just the right size for small fingers.
- Along with Seed Starting Soil and trowels, use a small pot, or I like to use compostable peat pots. (Both the soil and pots are available almost anywhere you can buy outdoor plants.)
- Have the kids use their pinky fingers to create a hole for each pea seed. (Allowing children to use their pinkies as a form of measurement also provides a sensory experience they'll never forget.)
- Once in place, bury the seed and thoroughly water the soil with a spray bottle. Using a watering can might flood the soil and displace the seed.
- Keep an eye on the pot to keep the soil damp for the next few days for a better chance of seed germination.
- You can buy plastic insects online, or if you like the critters pictured, I bought a tube of plastic crawlies from Lakeshore.
- In an area with soil, mulch, or even leaves that have fallen from trees, bury the insects 1-2" deep.
- Using a hand rake, allow the kids gently rake the area and see what bugs get uncovered.
- Remind the kids that many insects in the garden benefit the garden ecosystem and plants and to dig carefully while looking for the bugs.
- As insects are discovered, see if children can name them.
- (Optional) Have the kids sort the creatures by color, number of legs, etc.
Plant a Flower Pot
- This is an easy one. You need to purchase a small potted flower and have a larger pot to transfer it into.
- Having some good potting soil to fill in the new pot is also a bonus.
- Making the flower transfer will allow the roots to spread and promote new blooms.
- Use the instructions on the Scavenger Hunt page, and once the flower is planted, find the perfect spot that could use additional color and beauty within a growing space.
Having these activities organized ahead of time is a way to keep your little ones engaged while learning, in simple ways, how the world organically grows around them. And - take advantage of any little nature learning opportunity that arises. That's the beauty of learning and growing outdoors. Nature usually provides some lucky surprises along the way!