Creating a Children's Garden
Planting a Garden with the Children
Children love nothing better than the opportunity to spend time outside. If there is an opportunity to get mucky and to dig in the dirt then it just adds to the fun! This is why planting a garden is a perfect project for young children. Not only does it provide them with the opportunity to be active and to be involved but they will also see results for their work.
It is important to remember that young children do not have a lot of patience and so they need to see results almost immediately. For this reason it is a good idea to have several different projects going at the same time. Some of these can be short term and some of them can be more long term.
Start by deciding where to place your children’s garden. A raised bed or a marked area with some decorative fencing is a good idea. It’s also important to protect this spot from pests. This can be done using mesh netting that is cheaply available from any hardware store.
Invest in some child-sized tools. Child size gardening tools can be found in most garden and hardware stores, however I find old desert spoons and measuring cups are often much easier for small hands to use. Remember to use the opportunity to teach the children the importance of good hygiene too. The soil, can contain a variety of contaminants including harmful bacteria from animal faeces. Children really enjoy the fun of getting dirty during a gardening task, however it is really important that they clean their hands well after completing the task.
Childsize gardening tools in a handy holdall. This would make a lovely gift for a budding gardener!
Planning is half of the work!
Plan your garden with the children. Talk about the types of plants that you can grow. Children who never eat vegetables will often eat the fruit of their own hard work! Invest in a couple of books with pictures of the process of growing flowers and vegetables to help you to explain this to your children. (or borrow these from your local library)
Sow a mixture of fast-germinating seeds and plants that will take a little longer to grow. You can start by planting seedlings indoors in individual pots and then transferring them outdoors when the weather warms up. Maths,science and nature can all be taught to the children as you discuss the work that you are doing.
The Children will be eager to see the results of their labour and I have found my little ones checking back as often as every hour for growth! (Be careful that they don’t become too eager and start to dig for progress or overwater them! This happened with some of ours last year!! A good tip is to have a reserve of whatever you plant just in case the plants become damaged by little over eager gardeners!
Good examples of plants for the young gardener include tall sunflower, fragrant herbs and vegetables such as pumpkin, courgette, and carrots. Another favourite of ours that will grow really quickly is cress.
Visit the garden with your children every day and teach them how to water their plants and watch for new growth. This will also open up wonderful opportunities for conversations about bugs pests bees and names of flowers so be ready for lots of questions!
Remember to take photographs of your garden as it grows through the different stages. It is lovely to be able to look back on these during the cold winter months. It is also lovely to measure your children against a sunflower as it grows taller and taller. You can also hold bean growing competitions to see which one will grow the tallest. The children can also draw pictures of what they have seen and learned as this helps them to remember and reinforces what they have learned along the way.
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