Fun projects help you nurture your child's interest in gardening.
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Youth gardening is more popular than ever! The reasons are clear and simple. When kids garden, they do better in school, and they also learn social skills, gain confidence and self-esteem, and have improved attitudes towards healthy food and the environment. However, getting kids to work in the garden may be a challenge. Sometimes you have to be creative in how you engage children in the garden!
Making gardening a game is a sure-fire way to gain children’s interest. Think of things young kids like to do, such as digging, building, decorating, and exploring. Remember those activities when you’re planning garden time with your youngster. You may not get as much actual work done as you’d like, but by using a little ingenuity you’ll get your child into the garden, inspire him or her to investigate it, and in the process you are likely to nurture a future gardening enthusiast.
Here are some creative ways to have fun with your kids in the garden.
Start a Worm Farm Kids love hunting for worms in garden earth, and they also enjoy raising them in a worm farm, or vermicomposting. Set up a worm bin in shade near the garden or indoors, so kids can check on the critters every day, feed them, and eventually harvest the resulting compost and “worm tea.” You can build your own worm farm following these instructions, or purchase a ready-to use Can-O-Worms. If you’re not familiar with vermicomposting, do a little research and help children understand what worms need in order to thrive. Challenge your children to stick their hands in the wiggly worm mass inside the farm! Some will love it, some may hate it, but all will remember it. One word of caution, make sure the wigglers don’t get in the garden. They are meant to be used in the bin only
Create Garden Nooks Create a play space in your garden that kids can call their own, such as a sunflower house or a grapevine wigwam. Grow tall sunflowers in a 6-foot-diameter circle leaving a 2-foot-wide opening for a door. When the sunflowers get large enough, string their tops together to form a roof. For a wigwam, pound stakes into the soil along the perimeter of the wigwam. Cut wild grape vines and weave them around the stakes, twisting the tops of the vines together to form a roof. Invite kids to weave pine boughs, branches, and other organic materials into the vines to flesh out the sides and otherwise decorate the wigwam. You can also grow edible vines such as grapes, nasturtiums, pole beans, and cherry tomatoes on the wigwam frame.
Personalize Walkways Decorate garden walkways with personalized stepping stones. Using a stone mold kit, invite children to make their very own stones, then position the dried stones in a walkway. Children can decorate stones with a handprint or footprint, craft items, or write their name in the mold and create their own “Walk of Stars,” just like on Hollywood Boulevard!
Autograph Vegetables Once large-fruited winter squash and pumpkins set fruit and begin to grow, invite your children to carve their names in the fruit. Supervise children, making sure they cut only deep enough into the fruit to remove the outer layer of skin. As the fruit grows, so will the child’s name. Kids can get artistic, too, and make faces or other designs in the fruits that will change over time as the fruits grow.