GrowCookEat: Gardening with Children

Funny how today I wanted to post about getting kids involved in gardening, but really I would have rather done the planting I did today by myself. It’s definitely easier and way less frustrating. But, I know that involving my kids is a good thing – for me and them – even if dirt gets spilled all over the rocks, plants get a little squished and I get more wet than the soil does. (Which is probably why I don’t have many pictures of them working in the garden. I’m too afraid the camera will get as soaked as I do!)

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I’ve been pretty good about involving Logan and Madeline in the planting and watering. They definitely enjoy that. And for Logan especially it’s been a learning experience to help him understand about growing seasons. Peas grow in the spring, tomatoes grow in the summer, and so forth. He’s also really been interested in learning about which plants come back every year (perennials) and which ones we have to replant every year (annuals). It has been a great opportunity to teach them about where food comes from.

We found a great book at the library last year called A Fruit is a Suitcase for Seeds. The book is full of fun watercolor pictures and useful information geared towards children about seeds and how they grow. It’s a fun way to teach kids how to distinguish between what is technically a fruit and what’s technically a vegetable. Does the fruit carry the seeds inside itself?

And of course experts are constantly reminding us that by involving our children in cooking food is a great way to expose them to different foods, tastes, and hopefully translate that knowledge and experience into eating better. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to assume the same for involving our children in edible gardening. If anything, it sets a great example that we as parents care about what we put into our bodies and how we treat the Earth and the plants that grow on it.

This might seem silly, but one of the things the kids had the most fun with was when we bought worms to put in our compost bin. Especially since I didn’t exactly know where one would buy worms, so I ended up ordering them online. Getting a box with a bag full of worms in your mailbox isn’t something that happens everyday. Logan and Madeline watched the worms wriggling around for a good 30 minutes before moving on to something else. And of course, being a boy, Logan wanted to know exactly what the worms were doing in our compost bin.

Of all these great learning opportunities and fun times spent together, I think the one that is most important to me is that helping out in the garden, whether it be fruits and vegetables or with flowers, gets my kids outside and playing and away from the TV and computer. We are all so much happier when we spend time outside together. Overall, it’s been a positive, fun and inexpensive way for family fun.

New ideas that I want to use this year:

I love this cute book about Planting a Rainbow. We always spend so much time playing outside once the weather warms that I think this would be a great addition to our regular summer activities. Kind of a mini-summer camp we could do at home. I think Logan would get a kick out of a rainbow garden and this would be a great opportunity to work on colors with Madeline, because she’s still unpredictable at identifying them.

photo by Jane Maynard

I have never grown Nasturtiums and don’t really know a thing about edible flowers, but I thought this idea that Jane posted about on Make and Takes was so pretty! I don’t know that I could get Logan to eat flowers, he’s pick enough as it is. Madeline, on the other hand, thinks everything is for eating. Really, you don’t even want to know some of the things I’ve caught her putting in her mouth. The realization that some flowers are actually okay for eating would thrill her!

Last year my neighbors had a lady bug release in their garden with their kids. I really want to do that this year! Logan has been learning about bugs at school and is really into them right now. Hatching butterflies would also be fun! This looks like a great kit to use and I’d definitely want to include some fun books about butterflies with the activity. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a classic favorite, but this Cat in the Hat book looks fun too since my kids love rhyming.

Do you have a great idea for getting children involved in gardening? What are you kids’ favorite things to do outdoors?


Next Friday we’ll have a great guest post on how to utilize your local extension service for gardening advice specific to your location.

Got your GrowCookEat post up?:

  1. Write a post about gardening on your own blog, don’t forget to mention www.goodlifeeats and GrowCookEat so that your readers know where they can learn more about GrowCookEat and gardening. Then, come back here to add the link to your post to the SimplyLinked form below.
  2. Don’t have a blog? ell us about your garden in comments section of each post so we can all see what you’re up to.
  3. Let’s stay on topic, this isn’t an invitation to spam everyone with your blog. If your post doesn’t somehow relate to gardening, it will be deleted. Thanks for understanding.

I also wanted to let you know that I’ve set up a GrowCookEat flickr group for those of you who want to upload and share all the photos of your garden
s with each other. You can join the group here.