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Children in the Garden Growing Memories that Last

Children Thrive in the Garden

Kids and gardening go hand and hand… or hands-in-dirt! We’ve never seen a kid who didn’t love to play in the dirt. Heck… some of us big kids never grew out of that, right?!?  Children in the garden is as natural as peas in a pod and lessons from nature are some of the best.

Teaching children gardening provides a wonderful hands on education on so many levels. We hear from many adults whose fondest memories are gardening—or related to gardening in some way—with their parents, grandparents, relatives or neighbors.

“Kindergarten” – Means Garden for Children

Including children in the garden and all it’s aspects, teaches all about nature, cycles of life, where food really comes from, how to nurture, and so much more. After all, the word “Kindergarten” was originated by German Friedrich Froebel, based on the concept of teaching and nurturing children, each according to his/her needs in much the same way a gardener nurtures each plant.

Fond Memories for Life

Sherri Norman shared this on our Facebook Page, and gave us permission to share it:
“I grew up my entire life with a backyard garden that my parents started. My siblings and myself always were out working in the soil. It got to where the neighbor kids would come over to watch stuff grow or to help. If one of my friends helped—pulling weeds or such—my parents would give them veggies to take home. I now do the same with my garden. Anyone in my neighborhood that’s interested and helps, reaps some of the harvest. Amazing to see now, neighbors with window box veggies growing. I love watching things grow! Pure bliss when I’m working in the dirt.” Sherri E. Norman, Gardens All Facebook Page. 1)https://www.facebook.com/gardensall/

Re: Kids and Gardening:
“The neighborhood kids would come over to watch stuff grow, or to help.”
~Sherri E. Norman

We love hearing these stories of folks share their fond memories of gardening as children. Some gardened with parents or as a family. Others gardened when visiting grandparents or helping neighbors. Most children who grow up in and around a garden, also grow up loving gardening, plants and growing things.

“Nurturing the soil nurtures the soul.”
~GardensAll.com

Planting More Than Seeds

Sherri’s family gardening tradition beautified more than her family’s yard and fed more than their tummies. For Sherri, it nourished her soul and cultivated a lifelong tradition of nurturing plants and people through gardening.

“In ever gardener is a child who love to play in the dirt. In every child is a gardener ready to grow.”
~LeAura Alderson, GardensAll.com

 

Children in the Garden – Scrapbook Memories!

Dirt, spade, rake, kids, seeds, hose and water!

Most little kids love digging around in the dirt, holding lady bugs and finding earthworms and roly-poly’s. Including children in gardening fosters a well-earned sense of being a part of something important to the family, and cultivates a sense of self worth only found from effort and contribution.

Introducing children to the gardening early on, provides priceless experiences and invaluable education that lasts a lifetime.

I would educate human beings who with their feet stand rooted in God’s earth . . . whose heads reach even into heaven and there behold truth, in whose hearts are united both earth and heaven.
~Friedrich Fröbel, German pedagogue and founder of the word kindergarten

 

Gardening with Kids Tips

  1. Have kids look for and destroy squash bugs and their eggs, tomato horn worms, Japanese beetles and slugs.
  2. Let the kids water the plants. Kids enjoy watering the garden, and yes, they’ll be drinking from the hose… and end up as wet—or wetter—than the plants before they’re done, but that’s part of the fun, and it helps them develop a fond relationship with the garden while growing memories that last.2)http://www.kidsgardening.org/garden-activities-start-early-and-end-late-to-beat-the-heat/

The kids can do this with you at first, then later it can be their area to manage. They can be the “garden pest manager”, and gain a sense of importance by the responsibility of being in charge of something in the garden. If they don’t do their job well, best to redirect them to their task and focus on praising the things they get right.

Focus on the good things to help children grow fond memories of the time with you in the garden and for their love of gardening to take root.

These two simple things can be turned into entire gardening curriculums, and we touch on that next.

Lessons from the Garden — Things to Do Together

Garden Planning

Children can be included in each process of planning the garden. You can start by discussing as a family what to grow. Make this fun by making a list of everyone’s favorite vegetables. Kids will usually immediately jump into naming theirs.

Once you have a list, write next to each item, how tall it will grow and how much space it needs. We won’t go into a lot of detail here. We’ve written about garden planning in other articles, but the bottom line, at each stage, consider what the children can do to participate and assign them that.

If for instance, you create a garden sketch on graph paper, they can color in the veggies. For the older children, they can help with the garden app, if you choose to use that (our favorite tool).

Ordering Seeds

When it’s time to order seeds, you can do that together as well. Make a list of your family’s favorite veggies, then comb through the catalogs (or online) together to order or shop for the seeds them locally. Once you’re done, the kids may also enjoy cutting out veggie pictures and making your own garden map on poster paper. It could become your own “secret garden map”. 😊

The Best Teacher is Experience

There are so many ways to include children in gardening. We all learn best through hands on experiences. You know… learning from life and doing real things. That’s the best learning, and those are the lessons we all remember most, and in those lessons wonderful memories are also planted.

Whether you homeschool, or just want to provide hands-on learning and growth for your kids, it’s easy to create entire curriculums around gardening. See a list of curriculum ideas next.

“If man is to attain fully his destiny, so far as earthly development will permit this, if he is to become truly an unbroken living unit, he must feel and know himself to be one, not only with God and humanity, but also with nature.”
~Friedrich Fröbel, German pedagogue and founder of the word kindergarten

BOOK: Gardening Projects for Kids by Jenny Hardy

Here’s a gardening curriculum starter list to jumpstart yours tailored to your kids:

A Children’s Garden Curriculum Teaches Real World Lessons

BOOK on Amazon: Square Foot Gardening with Kids: Learn Together: – Gardening Basics – Science and Math – Water Conservation – Self-sufficiency – Healthy Eating (All New Square Foot Gardening) by Mel Bartholomew. 


Children Love Working Alongside Adults

Kids are wired to want to help and to mimic what we do. In most things we do in the garden—and in the home—we can find something the children can do to be a part and contribute. Even very young children can dig a hole for a tomato plant, put small seeds like carrot, lettuce or radishes into furrows and then cover them up, and water the garden, even if it’s just to turn on the sprinkler, (and you know what fun that will lead to)!

It’s also great fun for children to be a part of growing seedlings indoors.This is especially if you’re in climates with shorter grow seasons. Kids get excited when the little buds break through the soil, and here they can learn lessons about growing zones, weather and seasons.

GardenNerd.com has a great article on gardening for toddlers. Super cute and smart!

JustForKids Garden Tool Set with Tote

 

Herb Gardens

Herbs are a great start if you haven’t planted a garden before. Herbs are basically weeds and will grow no matter what. If the kids step on them they will still grow. I would suggest basil, parsley, lemon balm, and chives. All of these are easy to grow and are easy to use in recipes during the summer and winter. 

Several years ago we made box gardens with our young grandkid’s. They enjoyed all aspects of the process and when the tomatoes were ripe the wonder in their eyes was remarkable. “Tomatoes don’t come from the store, Grandma?” This remark made it all worth it.
~Susan Espinoza, freelance writer, homeschool mom of 7

See Planning an Herb Garden article.

 

Winter Gardening fun Indoors

For winter, create an indoor mini garden for a sunny window or under a grow light. Or, something bigger, if your budget allows, like this awesome garden tower composting system.

Winter is also a great time for garden craft projects such as making soap and candles from the dried garden herbs, and cooking and baking using preserved foods from the garden.

For winter crops, such as cabbage, it’s a great time to make homemade sauerkraut, a medicinal staple in our refrigerator, with a new cauldron brewing.

 

Gardening Cultivates Family and Community

Like Sherri’s parents did, encourage your children to invite and include their friends in gardening fun. Making your garden the place to be helps your kids not feel like they’re missing out if other kids are playing while they’re tending the garden.

Invite your and your kid’s friends over for garden-related crafts, such as making scarecrows and wind foils for the garden, and again when it’s time to make things with dried herbs.

Children are wired to want to help. Let them. They will develop self esteem naturally through their contributions within the family.
~LeAura Alderson, GardensAll.com

Many families have cultivated a family weekend past-time of going to the mall. Instead, spend time as a family in the garden, doing crafts inside and in the evening, playing games.

Working together and playing together helps keep families together.
~LeAura Alderson, GardensAll.com

Let us know what you’re doing in the garden with your kids or grandkids via our Facebook page or email.

 

NatureScapes as Secret Spaces and Magical Places for Children to Connect with Nature

Kids love to have their own secret spots or hangouts where they can spend hours creating imaginary worlds while connecting with nature. You remember, right?

Structures like willow huts, sunflower houses and bean teepees create natural hideouts for children. Add a willow tunnel and you’ve got endless hours of active, creative fun to engage the kids in imaginative play.

 

Willow tunnel
Image source unknown. Please contact us if you know the source so we may provide proper attribution: GardensAllSite@gmail.com

 

Willow Hut, image from LetTheChildrenPlay.net
Willow Hut, image from LetTheChildrenPlay.net

Children love natural play spaces.  Research shows that natural environments are beneficial to children in many ways.

“Nature nurtures the spirit and stirs the imagination through wonder.”
~LeAura Alderson, iCreateDaily.com

That’s no surprise or news to gardeners. We didn’t need researchers to tell us what we already know, right? But now… to get more growing, nature and learning through doing and through movement into the schools! Meantime, home is always the first “school”.

 

“When children and nature mix, something magical happens. Ever child deserves that magic!”
~Marghanita Hughes

Re-imagining and Recreating Natural Outdoor Learning Environments

Play spaces in natural environments include plants, trees, edible gardens, sand, rocks, mud, water and other elements from nature. These spaces invite open-ended interactions, spontaneity, risk-taking, exploration, discovery and connection with nature.4)http://www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/nqsplp/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/NQS_PLP_E-Newsletter_No59.pdf

Image of willow tunnel with willow teepee growing in the background, from EarthPlay.net

 

[Natural play spaces] foster an appreciation of the natural environment, develop environmental awareness and provide a platform for ongoing environmental education.  Belonging, Being and Becoming, The Early Years Learning Framework, 2009.5)https://www.coag.gov.au/sites/default/files/early_years_learning_framework.pdf

 

There are many ways to incorporate natural elements into your backyard or playground.

Check out these images from “TeacherTomsBlog.com”, and notice the little raised bed gardens in the background on the right hand side.6)http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/state-of-art.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TeacherTom+%28Teacher+Tom%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

Garden playground -TeacherTomsBlogspot
Natural Stones on Playground – TeacherTomsBlogspot

But here’s the most important part of all of this, in our opinion.

Don’t build it for them, Mom and Dad. Build it with them!
~LeAura Alderson, GardensAll.com

Let them build it, build it with them, or help them build it, depending on their age. Just like the garden, let them plant, weed and tend with you. That’s where the learning and confidence are wrought. That’s where the fun is… and when you can do it together, that’s where the joy is too. Times you’ll all remember fondly… forever.7)https://gardensall.com/kids-gardening-and-growing-memories-that-last/

For more images of great ideas in use, visit LetTheChildrenPlay.net.8)http://www.letthechildrenplay.net/2011/06/ideas-for-adding-natural-elements-to.html9)https://gardensall.com/fun-garden-projects-for-children/

“How does the gardener treat his plants? He studies their individual natures, and puts them into such circumstances of soil and atmosphere as enable them to grow, flower, and bring forth fruit, and to renew their manifestation year after year.” Mann, Horace, and Elizabeth P. Peabody, “Moral Culture of Infancy and Kindergarten Guide,” Boston, 1863

And before you move on, take one minute to smile over this precious video. Now this is the education we need more of!
Toddlers in nature’s playground. This is just TOO CUTE!

Kids and gardening go hand and hand... or hands-in-dirt! We've never seen a kid who didn't love to play in the dirt. Heck... some of us big kids never grew out of that, right?!?  Children in the garden is as natural as peas in a pod and lessons from nature are some of the best.

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