Spring is here. What better time to get outside with your children and get your hands dirty in the garden?
Gardening is one of the indispensable life skills you can teach your kids at home. Plus, it’s a fun way to introduce children to backyard nature.
Here are seven home gardening ideas and inspiration to get your little ones growing!
1. Try These Low-Cost, Small Space, and Indoor Garden Activities
If you only have indoor space available, there are plenty of fun garden activities you can do inside! Learn about seeds with an egg carton seed starter (and read “How a Seed Grows” to understand the steps), regrow scraps, and even help a pollinator by making a butterfly feeder.
Here are some ways families can talk about what’s “Green and Growing” with children, including book suggestions and more activities. (Leer ‘Verde y creciendo’ en Espanol)
2. Get Up Close With a Carnivorous Plant
The Venus flytrap is a weird plant with a bite. This hungry plant evolved to grow in the poor soil in small areas of North Carolina and South Carolina. It made up for the lack of nutrients in the soil by getting the food it needs by trapping and digesting bugs.
It can be a fun and fascinating plant for the house, but beware: the Venus flytrap has fallen victim to poachers in the wild. When you buy a plant, be sure it’s ethically grown in a greenhouse. Once you have an ethically-grown plant, put it where it can get at least six hours of sunlight and plenty of bugs. Then study up on your new plant with some fun Venus flytrap facts.
3. Get to Know Your Bug Neighbors
Bugs in your garden are helpful, not creepy. Get to know them better and invite them to stick around awhile with a bug hotel. This guide has instructions for making cozy habitats for our bug friends like bees and ladybugs.
You can also make inviting habitats for beneficial bugs by growing their preferred plants. Here are some suggestions on making bug-friendly garden space, plus information on how these bugs are helpful to us.
Read more about bugs with your child with this free ebook “Creepy Crawlers,” and learn about the parts of a bug here.
4. Make a Sensory Garden
A sensory garden is a fun garden space for young children, and it can be adapted for small or large spaces. These sense-engaging gardens can help young children develop a love and appreciation for nature, according to the PennState Extension.
PennState has instructions for how to make a sensory garden. Some elements to include in a sensory garden are:
- Sight: Plan for contrasting colors, movements, and light with colorful flowers and plants that would attract butterflies, etc.
- Hearing: Adding bird feeders or a bird bath attracts songbirds, while the simple whisper of wind or dripping water are also pleasing sounds.
- Touch: Fuzzy leaves, rough bark, smooth stones, and more elements are pleasing (and not dangerous) to touch.
- Smell: Find flowers and herbs with pleasing, subtle smells.
- Taste: Most importantly, everything in a child’s sensory garden should be non-toxic. Edible flowers and berries make for sweet treats— just make sure there is nothing poisonous.
5. Make a Terrarium to Learn About the Climate
Do you have an old fish bowl or large glass jar laying around? You can use it as a home for your plants. Learn about plants, dirt, and our climate by making a terrarium.
What is a terrarium? It’s like an aquarium, but it’s for land plants instead of fish. Get instructions on how to make a small terrarium from NASA. Other than the container, all the materials are either free or cheap to get. Your child can then decorate the terrarium how they wish. Once it’s built, your child has a living garden ecosystem to treasure and study.
A terrarium acts like a microclimate. Your children can learn more about Earth’s climate here to better understand their new terrarium.
6. Invite Birds and Get Crafty by Making a Bird Feeder
Putting a bird feeder outside the window is a surefire way to encourage hours of entertainment.
Read the story “Birds at My House,” with your child for instructions on making a bird feeder from household objects. (Leer “Pájaros en mi Casa” en Espanol)
Here’s a video on how to use other recycled items to make bird feeders.
7. Give Your Children Their Own Garden Space
Sometimes there’s no better way to learn than by getting your hands dirty. Setting aside an area for your children to grow their own garden can help them get first-hand experience with nature.
The best flowers for kids to plant include hardy and cute species like shasta daisies, milkweed (which are also great at attracting butterflies to the yard), and wild-looking plants like elephant’s ear.
One way to make gardening even more fun is to eat it! Edible plants like carrots, peas, potatoes, and corn, and sweet treats like strawberries, are fun to grow and eat! Find the best vegetables for kids to plant here.