Gardening with children is one of the best ways to inspire their interest in the natural world.
At Farmer Palmer’s we’re very lucky to have a wonderful gardener called Dan (from Beeutiful Gardens). Dan is also a Dad so he knows all about teaching little ones about plants and gardening.
Furthermore, Dan is super passionate about ‘planting for pollinators’. The goal of his gardening business is to create a beautiful outdoor space for clients to enjoy that is also super supportive and sustainable for local wildlife. Because, if we don’t save the bees – the human race is going to be in serious trouble!
We interviewed Dan for this blog, to bring you some top tips for getting your young family members out into the garden.
Gardening with Children aged 2-5 years
From personal experience, you’ve only got a relatively short window of opportunity to keep their attention at this age!
Making activities short and sweet is the key and most importantly, the activities need to be FUN!
Because if they’re not having fun, it’s just not going to happen. It can be something super simple like playing in the mud. Children getting their hands mucky and getting in touch with the earth can be great for tactile stimulation. Just be sure to wash their hands thoroughly afterwards!
In the youngest end of this age bracket you’ll be looking at activities like making Mud Kitchens. How about baking a mud pie? Or, try letting them dig or rake the soil with tiny tools. You could hide toys in the soil or bark for them to find. It’s a great way to get them to explore using different tools and get excited about their discoveries!
For 3 years and up we found Harry could now get involved with potting up plants. Try growing salad crops in little modular plug trays. This makes it much becomes easier for tiny hands to hold when helping to pot them up into bigger pots or planting straight in to the ground where you will be harvesting from.
My son is now in the 4-5 age group. It’s starting to get quite exciting as he’s now asking questions about the plants and flowers. “What flavour is this?”, “What colour is that?” It’s magic!
Activities like basic seed sowing, planting potatoes and making bug houses is great fun for kids at this age. Furthermore, they’ll start to learn more about the natural world and the importance of pollinators.
Digging is still a big pull to the garden. Being able to give your little one a space to call their own is ideal. This is where the creativity comes into play. By using toys such as diggers or little farm animals etc. you can create mini adventures within your own garden. Inspire their imaginations; they could grow up wanting to be Farmers or Archaeologists!
Gardening with Children aged 6-9 years
Make and build! As a family, we haven’t reached this age group yet but we’re very excited for when it comes!
At this age the kids can really get stuck in with the making and building of the garden.
It’s also a great opportunity to show your children how you can up-cycle many objects that are destined for landfill or recycling.
You can make seed containers or plant pots out of your everyday recycling items. Egg cartons, butter tubs and plastic food trays can all be used to hold compost so it can then be used to plant the seeds. Even newspaper can be made into small pots.
Teaching children about where food comes from (i.e. how it’s grown) is surely one of the most valuable and important lessons to learn and at this age their ready to absorb the information.
Getting children involved in the planting of the garden is so rewarding for both kids and grown-ups!
Give them their own space to explore the idea of plants and planting them. By doing this they have a greater sense of ownership. With gentle encouragement they, and their garden will flourish!
You never know; they could be the next Gold Winner at the Chelsea Flower Show!
Keep things fun!
Simple gardening is often the most fun because there’s no stress or hassle.
Sowing sunflowers and watching them grow is fascinating and satisfying for young children. If you and your children don’t particularly have green fingers; never fear! There are many ways to get involved in your garden.
Try making a bird feeder and hanging it up to await the hungry birds.
Paint pebbles in various ways to add some colour to the garden (Top tip: you can also use these as plant labels).
Or why not create a piece of art on canvas? Painting a flower or even a tree is still engaging with nature and your garden.
One of the best activities for us, is harvesting our home-grown crops to eat! Pulling up your first potatoes, picking your first tomato or watching that carrot you and your kids grew being grated into the mix for a carrot cake has to be one of the finer things in life!
Above all, get out in your garden space no matter how big or small it is. Engage with your children out in nature and watch all the wildlife that comes to visit when you provide them with a garden to feed on and explore.
More about Dan
Dan has recently created a YouTube Channel with fun, family friendly videos, check it out
Gardening with Children written by Emma, Guest Interview with Dan from Beeutiful Gardens