Gardening with Toddlers – Tips for getting your Toddler Involved in the Garden
Gardening with toddlers: all the best tips and activities to get your toddler interested in gardening with you and growing their own food!
Anyone that’s tried gardening with toddlers will tell you, it’s not easy. You really have to go into it with a certain mindset, or you’re going to get frustrated.
The first thing you have to do is accept the fact that your rows will be all over the place, dirt will end up all over your house, and they’ll likely dig up and damage a couple of plants.
Gardening is typically peaceful and relaxing. That’s pretty much the opposite of what toddler’s bring to the table.
Not to worry, though! There are ways to foster an interest in gardening in your toddlers, and not just because they get to play in dirt and dig holes.
This article is about getting your kids involved in gardening. Think along the lines of “activities” that will foster their interest in gardening and growing their own food, herbs, and flowers. Not garden-themed activities for Spring, but real-life, get your hands dirty kind of play.
Because no matter how much effort we put into cute gardening activities for our toddlers and kids, they’ll have the most fun simply throwing dirt around and creating complete chaos.
At the end of the day, the best way to get your toddler interested in gardening and growing their own food is by letting them help with anything and everything.
Tips for Gardening with Toddlers
1. Planting Seeds!
Yup, simple as that! Plant some seeds, watch them grow, and see your toddler’s face light up when they realize that their diligent watering schedule pays off!
You can plant them in old playdough containers, jelly jars, ice cream cones, peat pots, or anything else you have at home! If you plant different seeds, you can talk about which plants are growing faster, or take it a step further and do experiments where you keep one plant in the shade.
What better way to pique your child’s interest in gardening, then to show them exactly how plants grow.
2. Dig For Worms or Rocks
Toddlers love digging, and giving them something specific to search for makes it even more fun! I’ve used this “activity” to distract my son while I focus on something else, and I’ve also used the holes he’s dug to plant seeds. It’s a win-win.
3. Paint Your Own Planters
If your toddler loves getting artsy, you might consider painting planters together! Depending on their age, you can go for solid colors or more advanced patterns. If you’re currently teaching your toddler the alphabet, this is a great way to add letter recognition into a real life scenario. No matter what, your toddler will have a blast painting them and then seeing plants grow in them for months or even years to come!
4. Pulling Weeds
Toddlers love helping, so why not enlist them to help you with pulling weeds? You’ll have your work cut out for you in terms of teaching them which plants are weeds and which ones need to be left alone. They’ll get the hang of it eventually, though.
5. Identify Bugs Together
Even in the city, you’re bound to find at least a few different species of bugs in your garden. There’s nothing better than teaching your toddler about nature by experiencing it and seeing it for yourself. No amount of kids shows can compete with showing your kid bugs up and close in real life.
6. Water The Plants
Every time you go out to water your plants, let your toddler help you! It will help them connect the dots and learn that plants grow when you nurture them and water them. It’s awesome to see them feel accomplished when their hard work pays off!
7. Make Your Own Markers Together
Homemade garden markers are fun to make and fun to look at! There are so many creative ideas online. You’ll just have to search through and find something your toddler will enjoy making with you. Some people paint rocks, which I think is genius! No plastic involved, and what kid doesn’t like painting rocks?
8. Create A Sensory Bin With Real Flowers, Twigs, and Dirt
I love sensory bins! Back when I was a preschool teacher, I saw sensory bin ideas on Pinterest all the time. I used to think they looked like so much work to put together. I’m happy to go all out for my son, but some days I just don’t have the energy.
But I was wrong about sensory bins! They’re actually super easy to make. Most of the time I just throw random scoops, utensils, and toys in with rice, dirt, water, or any other “base” ingredient I have on hand.
My son loves his floral sensory bin. You could something like that, but with dirt, twigs, or any other objects you can find in the garden. Add in a scoop or a cup and they’ll have a blast!
9. Make Bird Feeders Together
There are some awesome DIY bird feeder ideas out there, and many of them are easy enough to do with your toddler! Here’s a cute idea from Sugar Spice and Glitter.
It’s fun to make together, and it attracts birds to your garden, which opens up new discussions and observations for your little one!
10. Wash The Tools
After digging, planting, and watering, your tools will be dirty. Your toddler will love rinsing them off! It teaches them to keep things clean, to respect their belongings, and better yet – you have a little helper!
11. Make Pressed Flowers & Leaves
Pressing flowers and leaves may not be the most thrilling thing your toddler has ever done, but it’s still fun! Click here to check out the 4 different ways you can press flowers. Your toddler will need help, of course.
12. Regrow Kitchen Scraps
Regrowing kitchen scraps shows your toddler that the foods you eat and the plants in your garden are the same thing (if you’re growing food, that is). It’s also a great way to teach them how to live frugally and practice self-reliance.
Here are some foods you can regrow from kitchen scraps:
13. Examine Seeds
Compare different seeds and show your toddler how they’re all different shapes, sizes, and colors! It’s never too early to start learning to recognize seeds.
14. Make Mud Pies
Technically making mud pies has nothing to do with gardening, but kids love making them! This is usually my go-to when I need to focus on organizing or doing something that my son can’t help with in the garden.
15. Have A Scavenger Hunt
You can download a printable from KidsGardening.org, or make your own! It doesn’t need to be fancy! Just a simple piece of paper with a checklist of items your toddler can find in the garden, a clipboard, and a pencil. Remember to take your zone and season into consideration.
What fun gardening activities have you done with your toddler? How did you get them interested in growing their own food and flowers? Let me know in the comments below!
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