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Herb gardens and fun read aloud are great ingredients for family time

Updated on July 22, 2016
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Cindy Hewitt is a retired teacher with a passion for children's literature. Read-aloud stories add quality to a child's life experiences.

Gardening with kids offers many benefits

Children love to dig in the dirt. Many schools now have a garden space on the school grounds that students can use to plant vegetables or flowers. Preschools and kindergartens also include gardening in an early childhood curriculum. Gardening can also be a great family activity that even the youngest child can participate in. Gardening with children offers the opportunity for an activity that gets children outside. Gardening with children also offers a variety of learning activities. Young children can use seeds to learn sorting skills, classification skills, and matching skills. Seed packages create reading skills. Children can match seeds to the pictures on the packages for sorting . Seeds can be sorted according to size or color. Pictures from the seed packages can be cut to create labels for garden spaces where each seed is planted. Measuring skills are learned when the garden space is laid out by using measuring tools such as a ruler or yardstick and tape measure. Writing skills can be added when children use a garden journal to keep track daily, weekly, or monthly of the growth of their plants by drawing pictures and writing words to describe their plant. Young children may draw pictures or cut pictures from seed catalogs to add to their journal or plant book. Gardening promotes both early reading and early math skills.

Tips for gardening with kids

An accessible spot for gardening at home should be in a safe area in order for children to participate in planting and caring for the plants. Choose a good site that can be used for plants that require both sun and shade. Most plants require at least six hours of sunlight. A garden rake, digging spade, and a hoe for turning the soil are all available in child-size tools for safety. A watering can that is easily handled by children is also needed. Label stakes are also needed for children to place by each space that contains a seed so that the plant can later be identified. It is also a good idea to teach children to use gardening gloves.

Herbs make a great choice for gardening with kids

Herbs are a simple choice for a garden when choosing suitable plants for children. Herbs offer the opportunity for children to touch, smell, and later taste when using their herbs for a cooking project. Sage comes in many varieties and colors. Pink, green, and gold sage will delight children with the choices in colors. Chives are a good choice in that this herb is not overpowering in flavor. Peppermint can be grown in either a sunny or shady spot in your yard. Peppermint must be trimmed often. Peppermint also attracts insects that are beneficial for your garden. Thyme dries very well after being harvested and keeps its flavor through the winter. Thyme also comes several varieties. Basil is also a great choice for kids to plant because it is simple to grow. It starts fast and grows abundantly. Thyme can be used all winter long. Thyme must also be cut back frequently.

Gardening can be a family activity

Gardening is for all ages
Gardening is for all ages
Harvest time
Harvest time

Fun read aloud to add to the gardening fun

Diane Seufert Tait's "Olivia's Garden" is a fun read aloud to add to the gardening experience for children. Karen plants an herb garden and Grandmother Sage, Prickly Jack Echinacea, and Miss Calendula are just a few of the herb characters who grow in Karen's yard. Tait also has a surprise helper for Karen as she tends her herbs every day. Children will be delighted to discover that Olivia is a fairy that helps with the garden chores. Olivia is also instrumental in keeping the garden pests away. The watercolor-like illustrations by Karen Thompson fill each page with pastel colors. The included glossary of names of herbs from "Olivia's Garden" is of interest. Children will enjoy the story that introduces them to the fact that plants, animals, and insects are all a part of a garden, and with a little imagination, a fairy can help with a gardening project. "Olivia's Garden" is recommended for ages 3-7. It was published by Greenwood Press and has an ISBN of 978-0-9950862-0-3.

Olivia is a fairy that might inhabit your garden

Fun read aloud to add to the gardening experience
Fun read aloud to add to the gardening experience

Fun read aloud for gardening in ebook

Gardens for children

What are your choices for gardening with your kids?

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Passion for combining fun read aloud stories with activities

I always included gardening activities in my early childhood classroom during my 32-year-career with young children along with fun read aloud stories that added to my students' interest in their gardening experiences. I found that gardening experiences provided hands-on learning to my young students and parents were always very excited to see the final product. My young students were always excited to watch their plants grow and to harvest any food product that we planted. Choosing fun stories to read and coordinate with gardening activities added to the children's interest. There is a wealth of children's books available to coordinate with gardening experiences.


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