Children who enjoyed playing in the garden throughout the spring and summer should be encourage to continue the learning process in the winter.
Rescue Mission: In the fall, let your child choose a few plants to rescue from the harsh winter. Bring them inside to watch over and enjoy indoors. To do this, you will need to gather pots and the right plants. Dwarf marigolds, pansies, petunias and sweet alyssum all work well indoors. Dig them up a few weeks before the first frost. Carefully pot and water. Leave them outside so that they can adjust to life in a pot. When you do bring them in, set in a sunny window away from any heater vents.
Plant Bulbs. Purchase a few sets of miniature flowering bulbs. These can often be found in boxes in the grocery store aisles complete with pot, saucer and soil. Help your child prepare the kit in October. Set in a cool room, protected in a garage or mud room, while the roots take hold. Then, after about 6-8 weeks the plants should be ready for sunshine and will bloom.
Grow a Sweet Potato Vine. Place a whole sweet potato in a jar of water. Just the bottom should be touching the water, the rest can be anchored to the rim of the jar with toothpicks. Put in a sunny window and watch the vines and leaves sprout and grow. These are edible leaves, although they also make a nice houseplant.
Plant Carrot Tops.Look for carrots with the green tops attached in the organic section of your grocery store, or from your garden. Save about an inch of the carrot with these leaves attached and let your child plant a few in a small pot. They can water and care for this fern like plant throughout the winter.
Save Citrus Seeds. After planting outdoors, kids may be more attentive to what makes up their food. If they are eating oranges, or you are having a grapefruit let them plant the seeds in potting soil. They will not grow new fruit, but can enjoy the plants, and you can use the leaves in cooking or tea.
Mushrooms. Purchase a special beginners mushroom kit for the easiest way to cultivate your first batch of mushrooms. There are several different varieties that can be produced, in many different sized kits. You can make this an intense basement project, or choose a simple desktop dome.