What’s the easiest way to grow a green kid? Put them in the garden! The best way for kids to learn about the environment and develop an appreciation of natures is to get them to interact with it.
Kids love to be outside, they can run and play and get sweaty and stinky and dirty and not even think twice about it.
In fact, for most kids, the dirtier they are, the happier they are.
Harness this wonder and excitement now so you can help develop their appreciation of the environment by getting them gardening.
How Gardening With Children Can Develop an Appreciation of Nature
Getting kids, no matter their age, involved with gardening is one step towards helping them to develop an appreciation of nature. Think of all the life lessons that can be taught by simply having a garden:
- the importance of bees in our food system – you can learn more here
- learn where our fruits and veggies come from and to appreciate the taste of real food
- the amount of work and time it takes to produce food
- interest in trying new things – if they grow it, they’ll want to taste it
- patience – waiting for those tomatoes to ripen can seem like forever
- problem solving skills – digging the right size hole to why isn’t the plant growing or how to get rid of the pesky bugs
- develop or continue a love of living creatures
Our Gardening Experience Was Less Than Stellar
When my kids were younger, we had a raised bed garden in our backyard. It was quite small but hey, I didn’t want to get in over my head. Previous to this, I had only had a single container with flowers.
In our garden, we grew squash, zucchini, broccoli, a variety of beans and I think at one point, even tried cantaloupe. These were not all at once, we tried them over a couple seasons and a couple years.
For a variety of reasons, probably mostly me, our gardening experience didn’t take off, and we never really had it amount to much. Aside from the blossom end rot (I think that’s what it’s called) and the green worms that took over the broccoli, my one lasting memory is how much fun the kids had simply digging in the dirt and finding worms.
My daughter loved to ‘go check on the garden’ every morning. Imagine her surprise when it looked the same as it did the night before.
The conversations that are sparked in the garden are nothing short of entertaining and always lead to learning more.
The trees grew up and the shade creeped in. My raised bed garden wasn’t getting proper sunlight, things weren’t growing and so we decided to take it apart. The dog running through it as she played with the dog on the other side of the fence didn’t help either.
Resources for Gardening with Kids
If I had it to do all over again, I’d probably start with a better plan. As with most things, I thought it would be a fun idea so I asked my husband to build the raised bed garden and I went an bought a bunch of plants. Never really thought it out much further than that.
From growing a ‘snacking garden’ (I love this term) to one that can feed the family to coloring sheets and basic, kid friendly planning guides, I’ve found a few good resources to get you started:
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Gardening Tools for Kids
Some kids will just want to jump in and get their hands dirty. Mine went back and forth between digging their fingers in the soil and wanting to have gloves, just like mommy.
I got them each a pair of gardening gloves and some small tools to use. I’ve already told you I’m no expert at this but I do think giving them tools specifically for their sized hands is a good idea. Think about scissors.
You can get gloves at any garden center but if you’re just ready to get them now and don’t want to make the trip (because we know how much fun shopping with toddlers is, insert eye roll) , these work great. A few basic digging tools, gloves and a watering can.
If you’re going to go all in, do some major field preparation and grow enough food for the neighborhood, you may need more.
Connecting Kids to the Environment
If gardening isn’t your thing, there are still ways to connect your kids to farms. After I decided to hang up my vegetable gardening gloves, I joined a CSA.
Not familiar with CSA’s, hop on over here for all the important information.
Another option is to check out your local farmers markets. The kids can see all the fabulous produce that the environment has helped provide and ask the farmers any and all questions they can think of.
Finally, you can also connect your kiddos to the environment through all these fabulous books at the library.
Do you garden with your kids? I’d love to hear about your experience and what you grow. Tell me in the comments.
Make it a green day!