the village - Getting started gardening with kids

Helping to raise parents with our own blend of parenting stories, advice and cool finds.
The village: helping raise parents with our own blend of parenting stories, advice, hacks and cool finds
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Getting started gardening with kids

by Em Shipman

The first time I brought my son Enzo into the garden with me, he immediately grabbed a fistful of soil and ate it. Then he cried about it for what seemed like 10 minutes while I washed his mouth out.

Gardening with kids seems picturesque and sweet. And it absolutely is most of the time. But like anything with kids, it can also be messy and challenging (mouthfuls of dirt and tearing flowers to shreds). But that is no reason not to get the kids you love out into the garden with you. Exploration and experience are some of the primary ways kids learn. And gardens provide hands-on opportunities for these things.

Why garden with kids?

There are so many great reasons to garden with kids. Gardening helps our little ones:

  • Slow down and notice things, calm their minds and bodies
  • Reconnect to their natural surroundings, their senses, bodies, and minds
  • Feel healthier and more regulated by getting physical activity, vitamin D, and fresh air
  • Eat better by connecting to where their fruits and veggies come from
  • Cultivate a growth mindset, learning to appreciate “mistakes” as fun opportunities to try something new the next time
  • Grow and nurture their sense of curiosity, joy, and wonder in the natural world and its processes

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Tips for getting started

  • Start small. Grab a 5-gallon bucket or other container and poke holes in the bottom for drainage. Add potting soil and you're ready to plant a mini garden!
  • Let kids choose plants. Guide them toward easy-to-grow selections for success, but let them make the final decisions so it's truly their garden!
  • Engage all the senses. Fill the garden with plants and decorations that are colorful and offer a variety of smells, textures, and sounds. Include a few edibles for snacking!
  • Create spaces for play. Sunflower houses, bean forts, reading chairs ... kids will feel right at home in a green living space that's just their size.
  • Set the stage for creativity. Pine cones, wildflowers, pebbles, and branches become the building blocks and action figures of their outdoor world.
  • Relax! Crooked rows or weeds as pets are fine. Explore! Engage! Enjoy!

Em Shipman is executive director of KidsGardening, a national nonprofit creating opportunities for all kids to learn through the garden. She lives and gardens in Vermont with her two young sons.

CREATE

Getting started gardening with kids

by Em Shipman

The first time I brought my son Enzo into the garden with me, he immediately grabbed a fistful of soil and ate it. Then he cried about it for what seemed like 10 minutes while I washed his mouth out.

Gardening with kids seems picturesque and sweet. And it absolutely is most of the time. But like anything with kids, it can also be messy and challenging (mouthfuls of dirt and tearing flowers to shreds). But that is no reason not to get the kids you love out into the garden with you. Exploration and experience are some of the primary ways kids learn. And gardens provide hands-on opportunities for these things.

Why garden with kids?

There are so many great reasons to garden with kids. Gardening helps our little ones:

  • Slow down and notice things, calm their minds and bodies
  • Reconnect to their natural surroundings, their senses, bodies, and minds
  • Feel healthier and more regulated by getting physical activity, vitamin D, and fresh air
  • Eat better by connecting to where their fruits and veggies come from
  • Cultivate a growth mindset, learning to appreciate “mistakes” as fun opportunities to try something new the next time
  • Grow and nurture their sense of curiosity, joy, and wonder in the natural world and its processes

An Image
An Image
An Image

Tips for getting started

  • Start small. Grab a 5-gallon bucket or other container and poke holes in the bottom for drainage. Add potting soil and you're ready to plant a mini garden!
  • Let kids choose plants. Guide them toward easy-to-grow selections for success, but let them make the final decisions so it's truly their garden!
  • Engage all the senses. Fill the garden with plants and decorations that are colorful and offer a variety of smells, textures, and sounds. Include a few edibles for snacking!
  • Create spaces for play. Sunflower houses, bean forts, reading chairs ... kids will feel right at home in a green living space that's just their size.
  • Set the stage for creativity. Pine cones, wildflowers, pebbles, and branches become the building blocks and action figures of their outdoor world.
  • Relax! Crooked rows or weeds as pets are fine. Explore! Engage! Enjoy!

Em Shipman is executive director of KidsGardening, a national nonprofit creating opportunities for all kids to learn through the garden. She lives and gardens in Vermont with her two young sons.

My favorite simple kids' gardening activities

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