There is a wealth of fun to have in the garden, and children are always happy to join in. Catch, and keep, their attention with these five fun activities. Some are good indoors, others are good outdoors, but all are done with the garden in mind.
1. Painting a Flower Pot
If your kids are anything like mine, then painting is at the top of their fun list. To set up this project, simply buy new or find an old terra cotta pot. Wash any old soil out if need be, and set up the painting table with newspaper, brushes, acrylic paint, and water cups for washing brushes. There really isn’t much else to explain since children will know exactly what they want to paint. If they have any trouble deciding, ask them to pick their favorite plant in the garden and paint it just as they see it.
2. Growing a Narcissus Bulb in water
Growing anything in water is usually fast and easy, and this project is no different. To set up this project, you will need to find a container without a hole in the bottom. Typically glass containers are ideal because as the bulbs grow, the children will be able to watch the roots grow. I use a low glass dish that is 6 inches in diameter, and is about 2 inches deep. I find a 6 inch dish holds 7 Paper white Narcissus bulbs perfectly. After you have found the container you wish to use, either eyeball how many bulbs you think will fit or bring the container with you when buying the bulbs. Have your child fill the dish half way up with any clean, decorative stone or pebbles that they would like. We use fiery red, glass pebbles as a nice contrast to the green stems and white flowers. Then set your bulbs on top of the pebbles while gently twisting in order to place each in its own burmed spot. By doing this it also aids in keeping the bulbs somewhat upright while their roots grow in. Make sure the “hairy” end is going down and the pointed end is shooting up. Finally, add just enough water so that the very base of the bulb where the roots will emerge is covered. Within a week you will see the bulbs roots and shoots emerging, and your little one will love filling the water every other day or so while watching them grow.
3. Plant Herb Pots with Handmade Name Markers
Here is a two part project with the ability to do only one part or the other if need be. Also, this can be both an indoor and/or outdoor project. When starting the first part of this project you will first decide what size pots you would like to use or if you have enough space to start a small herb bed just for your child that will work really well also. The pots can be 4 inches if you are starting with seed, otherwise if you are planting 4 inch plants then you will want to move them into a 6 inch pot. Include the flower pot painting activity in this project as well if you like.
Part two of this project is handcrafting the Name Markers. These can be done in so many ways and possibly using any number of items already in your home. They can be very simple with popsicle sticks, colored markers, and a clear coat of glue to preserve them from the elements for as long as possible; or you can find all the old spoons you have sitting in that mismatch section of the silverware drawer to be recycled into a whimsical garden accent. Your child can design them whatever way they want with paint, permanent marker, or even decoupage from cut outs of garden magazines. If your little one doesn’t write very well yet, then write the plant name for them below their artwork, otherwise ask your child to label correctly. Make sure to have some sealant or Mod Podge on hand to evenly seal the artwork and keep it safe from the elements no matter what material you are using.
4. Start a Compost Pile
Starting a compost pile is quite simple, it’s keeping it going that takes a little effort. If you have the time to commit at least once a week, then this really is a fantastic project to do with your children and the rewards are never ending for your garden. There are two main composting systems and they are:
Both will be affected differently in different climates. A great way to understand how to best start composting in your area is to check your local jurisdiction for their composting guide. Many offer a discounted price on pre-fab compost bins. Otherwise a great resource for all types of composting is the Rodale Book of Composting.
5. Make a Shoe Pot
What’s better than making space in your closet, recycling old shoes, having a fun project for your child, and ending up with a wonderfully, whimsical garden piece? I don’t know either, this project has it all. Simply find the shoes you want to part with (boots are ideal due to the large soil holding capacity), make sure there is a hole already in the sole from excessive wear or drill the hole in, fill with soil, plant, and voila! Simple, fun, and creative. Find a spot for your child’s shoe pots and make it a theme garden just for them. Then, don’t stop at just shoes; encourage your child to look around the house for other containers that they think would look great with a plant. You’ll be surprised at how many things will work and are better used in a more practical way anyway.
Enjoy trying each of these fun garden ideas with your children. They will remember the time with you and what they helped add to the garden for a lifetime, guaranteed.