Gardening with Young Children

Did you know that gardens are great places for growing fun, learning, and kindergarten readiness, besides seeds and plants?

gardening with kidsWith the weather finally warm enough to spend some time in the yard, it’s also time to think of gardening. Children are fascinated with plants and how they grow, and of course, they love to play in the dirt. Preschoolers are not too young for gardening, but they will need some supervision.

  • Before planting, gardens need to be prepared. Unless you have some very early plants, what is most likely growing at this stage is weeds. Kids will happily help pull these out along with any left-overs from the fall. With a small shovel or trowel, little ones can help prepare the garden soil by just digging and turning it over. Grownups have to use big shovels and it’s lots more work. It may help to give children their own patch or big container for digging in.
  • Pots and containers will need to be washed first with warm, soapy water. Water and dirt will make mud and soon kids will need to be washed in warm, soapy water too, but in the meantime they will play and work happily and have some sensory stimulation.
  • To explain the difference between dirt and soil, it’s helpful for kids to know that dirt is what is on cars and shoes, but that soil is the alive-part with all kinds of things, some that we can’t see. Usually when digging, it’s possible to see some worms and bugs that live in the soil. What else can be found in the soil? Are there any leaves that have turned all brown and crumply? Is the soil all the same color?

Getting the soil ready is just the first part. What do you think will be tomorrow’s play-of-the-day?
(On a new Learn and Play with Mrs. A radio show, I will be talking with a school garden coordinator, Barb McMahon, from Sprouting Chefs and will share more ideas on kids and gardening.)

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