Gardens and backyards are not just for looking at, but living in! When the children in your life are able to spend time outside and play in the dirt, it not only keeps them off of their screens, but is beneficial to their bodies and minds. Working along side you in the garden can give kids a sense of purpose and responsibility, boost their self esteem, spark their imagination, and get their bodies moving!
Here are a few ideas for how you can get the little ones to love the garden as much as you do!
1. Let them get their hands dirty!
A little dirt never hurt! Sunshine and fresh air seem like no-brainers when it comes to health, but did you know that playing in the dirt is also good for you? It's been proven that working with your hands and being able to see an end result decreases anxiety. While you may not want muddy handprints in your kitchen, the garden is the perfect place for them! Don't worry about their clothes - that's what hoses and washing machines are for.
Plant easy-to-grow vegetables, allowing the kids to participate in every step, from seed to finished, delicious food. Edible flowers are also a beautiful thing to add to the garden! Nasturtiums and Johnny Jump-ups bring in fun-sized pops of color.
Click the image to ID these insects!
Let them dig for worms! Sure, creepy-crawlies might not be up your alley, but lots of them are good garden neighbors. Help identify any creatures they may come across and encourage them to learn more about each one. Who knows? You may have a future entomologist on your hands!
2. Encourage their imagination
Fairy gardens give kids a window into a whole other world. Get down to their level and look for perfect fairy homes - a knot in a tree might be a doorway, a stone wall needs a tiny ladder, or a trickle of water could be the perfect place for a bridge! Natural building materials encourage even more exploration, but store bought elements are just fine.
An art project can add some character to the garden. A mobile, a rock caterpillar, or bottle-cap flowers can all add a whimsical touch. Let them play a part in creating a space that captures their imaginations and encourages their creativity.
3. Give them their own space
Personal space is important, especially for more introverted children. You don't have to undertake a massive project (such as a treehouse or a playhouse) to give them a private spot in the garden. Clear a hideout beneath the hedge, hang a hammock in a shady corner, or use tall or climbing plants, such as pole beans or sunflowers, to create a quiet, magical space. Sunflowers are pretty amazing on their own - imagine a whole "house" made of them! The perfect place to read on a beautiful day.
4. Include the whole family
A fire pit can be the central gathering place at the end of a long day in the garden. Make s'mores for dessert, or cook your whole dinner over the fire! Hot dogs are great, but have you tried pita pizzas? Use some of the vegetables that they've worked so hard to grow as toppings. Not only will it be a special outdoor dining experience, but they'll be able to proudly say "I grew that!"
What to Plant?
Here are a few yummy edibles! Click through for ID's.
Plants to add whimsy to your garden:
Make the most of these long, sunny days and enjoy each other's company!
"Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden?"
- Robert Brault