Children love playing outdoors in natural environments. Naturally inclined to do everything with their hands, children are nothing short of great explorers. And one excellent way to nurture this innate ability and fuel their zest to learn is to build a small garden with kids.
Gardening is an excellent activity, which not only helps children learn about plants & environmental science but also helps them nurture skills like patience, responsibility, caring and affection for nature. A truly gratifying experience, gardening with kids is a wholesome family activity!
Benefits of Gardening
1. Engages All Five Senses
What better way to engage all five senses than gardening! Gardening engages sensorial senses in a way that no other activity does. Digging up soil, feeling the water, smelling the plants, tasting fresh produce and listening to the crunch of freshly harvested salad vegetables – all together aid sensory exploration of children.
2. Boosts Motor Skills
It is no secret that young children are falling behind in motor skills. Thanks to mobile devices and lack of non-scheduled everyday outdoor activities, gross motor skills have taken a serious hit. Gardening is one activity that addresses this concern in the most natural way.
Children love getting their hands dirty and playing with water. Gardening lets them do both, together! Ploughing the soil, making seedbeds, planting tiny seeds to handling delicate saplings – the opportunities to hone motor skills is endless.
3.Encourages Healthy Eating
Transform your picky eater into a healthy eater by growing vegetables and fruits together. Children are much more likely to eat what they have grown (or even plucked!) themselves.
4. Build Family Bonds
Gardening provides an excellent opportunity for the entire family to work together. It is a calming and deeply satisfying activity and an excellent excuse to break away from screens.
5. Inculcates Responsibility & Care Taking
Gardening gives a great hands-on lesson in responsibility and taking care. Plants do not grow overnight. You need to take care of them and responsibly handle them. From watering to weeding – there are tons of things to be done before your plants bear fruits.
6. Builds Science Acumen
Gardening allows children to observe plants and their life cycles and further analyse which conditions help plants grow best. Thus, helping children turn into little scientists.
7. Teaches Hands-on Math
How deep or far apart should the seeds be planted? How many days before the plant matures? How many hours of sunlight does a particular plant need? How many times to water within a week? Gardening is indeed packed with math activities!
8. Creates Environment Awareness
Children are more likely to care for their natural surroundings when they grow up taking care of their very own gardens. It helps them understand the seriousness of environment preservation and its implications on the health of our planet.
Starting a Garden
The first step in starting a garden is identifying the location. You don’t necessarily need big, open space to start a garden for your kids. With a little thought, even small spaces can be turned into blooming gardens.
Choose a place that receives ample Vitamin D a.k.a sunlight. A bright sunny patch, roughly 3X3, is a great place to start an outdoor garden. If you don’t have a backyard, look out for your balcony and rooftops. These areas are generally airy and sunlit. A few pots mindfully placed can easily transform your balcony or rooftop into a green spot.
Use containers to plant seeds and grow plants, if you are short on space. Clay pots, terracotta pots, old sandboxes make great potting options. However, do remember to choose a pot according to plants you are planning to grow in it. Size of the pot should be in proper proportion to the size of the plant. As a thumb rule, the container should be about one-third as tall as the plant (measured from the soil level to the highest leaf).
Your kiddo would also need basic gardening tools like rakes, hoes, spades, trowels, and watering cans. Invest in child friendly gardening tools, which adhere to child safety guidelines and are fit for your child’s little hands. Armed with the right gardening tools for kids, the entire gardening experience will transform into a well-planned adventure.
Gardening Tools for Kids
First thing your child needs before he sets-off on his gardening adventure is a pair of good gardening gloves. Designed for maximum comfort & flexibility, these gloves are breathable and are great at keeping hands dry.
This set packs a punch! Armed with a canvas tote bag, it includes a watering can, shovel, rake, trowel, kid-sized smocks and garden gloves, children hat and a pack of ten tags. Its long sleeve gardening apron will keep your kiddo’s clothing clean and tidy – so no worrying for stains!
A cute complete gardening kit for little kids, this one is a one stop gardening tool set for kids. The tools are made of quality metal and plastic handles, making them strong enough to use while keeping child safety guidelines in mind.
A great yard tool set for your little gardener to learn about plants and explore your backyard. This wooden gardening set comes with a Shovel, Rake, Hoe and Leaf Rake. Durable and sturdy, this set is certain to get your child active in gardening.
Made with non-hazardous materials, this gardening tool set is perfect for kids. The rounded metal edges on the tools ensure child safety while being functional. The carry bag is perfect size for young kids and fits all gardening equipment for kids neatly.
We love this gardening tool set for kids. This set packs plenty – Kids Wheelbarrow, Watering Can, Gloves, Hand Rake, Shovel, Double Hoe, Cultivator, Hedge Clippers, Washable Apron. The best part is the wheelbarrow that is as functional as it is fun. Great pick for both indoor and outdoor gardening.
This is a wonderful buy for your little gardener. Packed with eight gardening tools, four pots, a water pail, a spray bottle and a garden wagon toy, this gardening tool set for kids is a complete gardening gift for your toddler.
Looking just for the gardening tools that are sturdy enough and yet just right for young hands? This one is just that! Sturdy wooden handles, high quality metal heads makes these tools perfect for digging.
This Melissa & Doug garden set comes with a handy garden belt and four tools. Great for indoor as well as outdoor gardening activities, this kit is just enough to get little kids started on gardening.
This super cute gardening set for kids is eye-catching. The watering can is adorably shaped in the form of an elephant and the water spray is packed as a rotatable flower. Certain to get children’s attention, this gardening tool set is fit for young children.
If you want just a few tools to add to your child’s existing (or hands-on) gardening tools, we recommend this one. It comes with a shovel, rake, pail and a cultivator. Packs just enough to get planting activities started with kids.
Plants to Grow with Kids
Once your spot is set, you have chosen the pots and are ready with your tools, it’s time to decide what to plant. When gardening with kids, it is a good idea to choose robust plants with strong smells and those that can grow quickly. Children also like to snack on what they have grown, so pick plants that kids can eat too!
Vegetables to Grow with Kids
Lettuce is easy to grow and mature within 50-60 days in the growing season. These plants grow in shade and moist soil. It is a cool season crop so the best time to plant it is between February-April and September- November, when the temperature is neither very hot nor very cold.
Radish is another short growing season plant for kids who are not so patient. Radishes mature quickly within four weeks. It is a cool season crop, so plant it during winter months.
3. Snow Peas
These tasty snacks are a great hit with children! Easy to grow and quick to mature, snow peas are the ideal planting vegetable for kids. Their purple, yellow and white flowers will add beauty to your balcony or terrace garden and delight the kids. Sow them in mid-November to enjoy them by January.
4. Cherry tomatoes
These grow quickly and double up as a great snack. They are fun to grow and look just so adorable! However, when planting cherry tomatoes, it is best to use their seedlings instead of seeds. These warm season vegetable plants grow well in pots and containers, making them a must for your indoor garden for kids.
India is second only to China in pumpkin production, so we strongly advocate you to give this vegetable a try! Pumpkin is a great option if you have open space and a patient child. This vegetable takes almost three to four months to harvest. But they are certainly worth all the effort – especially during Halloween! The best time to sow pumpkin is between January-March and September-December.
6. French Beans
These easy vegetables can be planted in August – September months of the Rabi season. These climbers make for a great munching snack and are packed with nutrients. Also your child gets a hands-on lesson in watching a climber grow!
Fruits to Plant with Kids
Your kids will simply love growing their own strawberries. These delicate fruits can be easily grown in pots or a small patch. It roughly takes four to six weeks to harvest and we bet your kids will adore picking them from their own strawberry patch. The best time to plant them is October–November and April–May.
These citrus fruits are best for outdoor gardens. They can be harvested throughout the year and need little to moderate care. Harvesting starts when the tree is at least 4 month to a year old, so make sure your child is patient enough. Also it is a great joy to watch them grow from seeds into a sturdy lemon tree.
Another fruit tree that is commonly grown in outdoor home gardens is pomegranate. These flowering trees can be planted between February and March. The fruit is borne nearly 7 months from planting, so plenty of patience is needed again for this fruit.
Add a dwarf orange plant to brighten up your child’s gardening experience. These dwarf orange plants bear fruits that are super-cute and pretty but extremely sour. Nonetheless, these orange plants will add the colour and smell to your garden.
Flowers to Plant with Kids
Sunflowers are every child’s delight! These flowers follow the movement of the Sun and that makes them really exciting for kids. These bright yellow flowers can be planted in a patch or in pots, making them a great choice for gardening with kids.
These beautiful yellow, orange and rust coloured flowers are a great addition to your gardening adventure with kids. Perfect for indoor as well as outdoor settings, these flowers are easy to grow and maintain.
These sturdy plants are a must if you plan on adding flowers to your garden. They are self seeding, robust plants with pretty flowers in pinks, reds and white. Really low maintenance, these flowers are perfect for kids who are just learning the basics of gardening.
Rose needs no introduction – It is the king of flowers. Choose a colour of your kiddo’s choice and let these fragment flowers blossom in your garden. They can be easily planted in pots as well as garden beds. Make sure to keep them in a sunny spot for the plant to flourish.
Herbs to Grow With Kids
15. Holy Basil
Holy Basil (Tulsi) is a staple plant of every Indian household. Packed with medicinal properties, these plants like sun and well drained soils. Plant the seeds in early spring to welcome your plant by summer.
These wonderfully aromatic herbs grow well in cooler climates. So plant them in fall in a loose well-drained soil. These plants like the sun so make sure to choose a sunny spot for planting in a garden bed.
Another extremely aromatic herb, fennel is known for its digestive properties. Sow it in spring in a loose, nourished soil. Water regularly to keep the soil moist to help your herb grow.
This medicinal plant is a great addition to your child’s herb garden. These plants grow best in warm and humid climate and do well with natural fertilisers.
With consistent effort and care, your garden would soon bloom and surprise your little ones. Gardening with kids is a wonderful way to spend quality time together and is greatly satisfying. Nothing beats the joy of watching saplings sprouting from seedbeds and growing into fruit/vegetable bearing plants.
Be ready to pitch in some extra help, depending on the age of your child. The last thing you would want them is to get over-burdened with a task. Gardening is hard work. Not every gardening chore is likeable. Your child might not be ready to handle compost or take up weeding. So offer help and plenty of encouragement.
To keep your child’s interest alive and kicking, make sure to flaunt their work to family and friends. This would build a sense of pride and accomplishment – the best form of motivation – in your kids.
If your child is easily bored and does not (yet!) have the patience to grow his own plants, don’t lose heart. Instead engage them in easy Plant Science Activities that will kindle their interest in gardening.
Crafts are another way to warm-up your children towards gardening activities. Here are a few crafts that are certain to strike a cord with your little one.
Gardening Crafts & Activities for Kids
1. Pressed Flowers
Pressed flowers make beautiful keepsakes and immensely easy to do. All you need is a few sheets of old newspaper, cardboard and fresh flowers.
How to do it:
- Lay a sheet of cardboard on the table.
- Layer the cardboard sheet with two sheets of newspaper.
- Place flowers on the newspaper.
- Layer the flowers with another two sheets of newspaper and a sheet of cardboard at the top.
- Add some books on the top or tuck the arrangement under your bed’s mattress.
Your pressed flowers would be ready after 10 odd days. Take them out carefully. Your pressed flowers are ready! Use them to decorate bookmarks, wrapping sheets or hand-made cards.
2. Make A Leaf Collage
This is an excellent craft for kids of all ages who love to craft. It also doubles up as a great STEM activity for kids. Collect fallen leaves of various shapes, sizes and colours.
Paste them on a white sheet to make an attractive leaf collage to showcase plant diversity of your neighbourhood.
3. Garden Patterns
This is a great garden activity for little kids that doubles up as hands-on math activity. Let your children be little garden explorers and collect as many unique things from a nearby garden or park as they can. Be it acorns, leaves, seedpods or fallen flowers and fruits!
Once your child has her tinker tray of garden collectables ready, let her stamp them on fattened play dough to create patterns. Once patterning is complete, lay out the play dough in a sunny spot to dry.
4. DIY Natural Paint Brushes
Children love paints! But this time, instead of using the regular store bought brushes, let them paint with brushes made out of grass and leaves.
What you will need:
- Rubber Bands
How to do it:
Step 1: Ask your child to collect fallen leaves, twigs, grass from a nearby garden.
Step 2: Using tape, make small neat bundles of grass or leaves that will be the head of your DIY paintbrush.
Step 3: Secure the grass/leaves head at one end of the wooden stick using rubber bands. That’s all! Your natural paintbrushes are ready.
Let your child use these to paint their heart out and unleash the artist within them.
Making compost at home is a great way to show your love for the planet and save kitchen waste from landing up in landfills. Compost making is also a great science activity for kids and a hands-on lesson on nature’s self-sustaining ability to recycle.
6. Make a Scarecrow
A Scarecrow is the perfect garden craft for every child. These cute little scarecrows are just apt for your indoor gardens. And if you have a lavish outdoor garden, we suggest you simply scale up the size.
Brighten up your garden with these hand-painted pots. We bet your kid will certainly want to take up planting after making his own hand-painted pots.
8. DIY Bird Feeder
A homemade bird feeder is certain to attract pretty birds to your garden. The easy homemade bird feeder is made from easily available recycled materials and is a quick fix.
What you will need:
- Foam sheet/ empty toilet paper roll
- Dough (atta)/ Peanut Butter
- Mixed Grains: We chose pearl millet and wheat.
How to do it:
Step 1: If you are using an empty toilet paper roll, you don’t need to do this. My lo wanted to use the foam sheet, so we rolled it and stapled it to resemble a tube.
Step 2: Make two holes, opposite to each other, at one end of the tube.
Step 3: String twine through the holes and keep aside.
Step 4: Now, ask your child to roll out the dough and make a really big chapati. My son really loves doing this and it’s a great motor skill practice as well. Once, your lo has made the chapatti, ask him to lightly wet the tube/paper roll with water. Now, we stick our chapati onto the tube. I asked my son why we used water and he was prompt to reply that water makes the dough sticky.
If you are using peanut butter, let your child spread a nice thick layer all around the tube.
Step 5: After you have pasted the dough on the tube, cut out the excess and ask your child to roll it in the grains. It is really fun for kids to see how grains stick on the dough. After enough grains are on the feeder, choose a branch and hang it.
Easy peasy and lots of fun! Make sure to maintain some healthy distance from the bird feeder for the birds to come in. You don’t want to scare them off by being too close.
This is an absolutely adorable craft to do with kids. This little fairy garden will surely excite your kids and will add to the charm of your garden.
A great garden craft to do with younger kids, paper plate gardens are wonderful for motor skills and creativity.
Explore the outdoors with these lovely gardening books for kids. Just like gardening, these books are a great way to break away from screens and engage children in a meaningful way. And yes, they do enhance your child’s literacy skills.
Gardening Books for Kids
Dive into the plants anatomy and learn all about the parts of plants, their classification and much more through hands-on experiments and activities. This book takes hands-on learning very seriously and makes learning fun!
This is a wonderful lift-the-flap gardening book for kids. Follow the life cycle of the garden as the author takes you through different seasons and the plants that grow within the seasons. A great supplement to life science curriculum, this book packs a punch.
A great gardening book for kids, Little Gardeners is perfect for parents and caregivers who intend to start a garden with their kids. With detailed instructions, tips, anecdotes, and seasonal activities, this book connects its readers to the natural surrounding and the beauty they behold.
This New York Times Bestseller, perfectly sums up gardening experiences of a family. It is a sweet book that delivers many subtle but significant life lessons for children. Beautifully illustrated, this book makes it a great addition to gardening books for kids.
A lovely rhyming book, Grow is the perfect gardening book for young children. Brilliantly written, it documents how food actually grows. Certain to enhance your child’s view of how we actually get food!
6. Rainbow Stew
This is a great book aimed at introducing gardening to preschoolers. Not only that, it also encourages children to eat a variety of vegetables. Simple rhyming and storyline makes it a delightful read for young children.
A lovely read about gardening and sharing, Farmer Bear’s Garden is a heartwarming read. Easy to understand language coupled with beautiful illustrations make it a worthy read.
Learn all about vegetable gardening in a fun way with this vegetable alphabet book. A great start for learning about uncommon vegetables.
10. My Garden
This is a story about a little girl who helps her mom in the garden. But each one likes doing things their way! A fun-loving tale that is perfect for every child, My Garden is a creative take on what a garden can look like.
Another New York Times Bestseller, The Curious Garden is an interesting and captivating tale of a young boy named Liam. Laced with environmental themes, this book delivers important lessons on hard work and how an idea can change things.
This is a great book to widen your child’s horizon of what possibly lives in their garden. It will help children understand the cyclical nature of our seasons and how gardens change with each cycle. A wonderful, informative read!
A great book for gardening science projects, this book is packed with hands-on ideas that are easy to do. Packed with 60 projects and nearly 500 photographs, this is a great buy for gardening enthusiasts.
Plant a garden with kids and connect with nature. Packed with garden activities to do with children, this book will help you connect and build deeper bonds with your child.
15. Garden Journal
Starting a journal is a great way to document the gardening journey. Designed for kids 8years and above, your children would absolutely adore this journal.
This book is an artistic history of creation and evolution of New York’s Central Park. Packed with interesting information and lovely illustrations, it charms its readers and builds on their knowledge about Central Park.
If its berries, nuts and seeds that intrigue your child, this is just the book for you. Loaded with information and facts, this book is a keepsake.
A heartwarming book about how intentions can shape the world. It is a must read and a great gardening book to warm up your kids into starting their very own garden.
19. Harlem Grown
An inspiring picture book will leave you spell bound. Adapted from the real story of Tony Hillery, this book is a cherished read for children and adults. It is about how an idea and effort can go a long way in achieving the unimaginable.
20. Plant Life Cycle
Investigate Plant Life Cycle with experiments and crafts to make learning experiential and life-long. Loaded with information, activities and worksheets, this ebook is a perfect choice for children keen on learning how plants grow.
While these reads will ready your children to practice their gardening skills, the below list of gardening kits for children will help your kids put their newly acquired skills to use.
These gardening kits for kids are perfect if you have a smaller space or lack a dedicated gardening spot for your kids. These indoor gardens kits will certainly catch the fancy of your kids and encourage them to start their very own mini gardens.
Gardening Kits for Kids
This kit comes with a Tin planter, plastic liner, soil, 3 flower seed packets, 3 DIY mushroom cutouts, 12- color paint strips, 2 paint brushes, paint palette, 3 wooden plant markers, shovel, watering bottle, and beautiful instruction booklet. A complete planting kit, it makes up as a great gift for young, enthusiastic gardeners.
This gardening kit comes with a grow light, which helps plants grow better. A fancy take on the traditional planting kits, this kit also packs a ruler to measure the height of plants on time. Good for both outdoor and indoor gardening activity.
True to its name, Sunflower Grow Kit helps your kiddo grow five different types of Sunflowers. We love its biodegradable cups and coir soil discs. The seeds have a germination rate, close to 90%, that makes this kit worth the money.
If you are looking for a gardening kit for a seasoned gardening enthusiast, this kit is a great buy. This complete herb seed starter kit comes with 100 pots to help you get the most of your gardening efforts. It is a great addition to your outdoor herb garden.
This Botany kit is a wonderful start for hands-on botany lessons and experiments for kids. Step-by-step instructions and easy to follow guidebook makes this kit a hit with children keen on experimenting.
This wonderful STEM toy-cum-kit will not only amaze kids but also adults. Design a maze and watch your plants grow through the maze! A fun gardening kit, this one will surely fire up your child’s mind.
What could be more enchanting than children building fairy gardens? The lights and music in the kit make this gardening kit really dreamy and straight out of a fairyland. Fun and engaging, this gardening toy for kids is perfect for toddlers.
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