Gardens exercise children’s minds and bodies. Spending time in a garden helps children experience the connections between people and the natural world. The moments you spend with your family in the garden strengthen your bonds and create memories to last a lifetime.
Here are fun garden activities you can enjoy as a family.
Plant a Garden
Even toddlers can work with you on your garden. They can push seeds into the ground and water seedlings. Radishes are great for a first garden because they sprout and grow very quickly, and they are easy to pull up.
You might like to plant a theme garden with older children—perhaps a pizza garden. Plant vegetables and herbs that go on a pizza, such as, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, onions, scallions, and oregano. Plant in a circle and the garden will even look like a pizza!
Make Garden Hideouts
Whether they use blankets, boxes, tents, or leaves—children like to hide. Help your young ones make a super-cool garden hideout.
- Bean Tepee
Put 3 6-foot poles in the ground 3 feet apart forming a triangle. Plant 5 or 6 pole bean seeds around each pole. When the beans grow up the poles, the middle area makes a cosy hideout for a small child.Make it a learning opportunity: Depending on their ages, children can count out the beans, measure the distance between the poles, or secure the poles in the ground.
- Corn Maze
Draw a simple maze on a piece of paper. A circle with a line through it works fine. Once the soil warms up in the spring, plant rows of corn seeds 2 ½ to 3 feet apart, following the lines of the maze you drew. In 6 to 8 weeks the corn stalks will be tall enough for playing hide and seek.Make this a learning opportunity: Talk about the different possible shapes for the maze, figure out how many seeds you need, or measure out the spacing for the seeds and the rows.
- Sunflower House
Plant sunflower seeds (tall sunflowers work best) to form a small square, rectangle, circle, or triangle. When the plants are 3-4 feet tall gently bend the stalks and tie the tops together, creating a little house with a roof.
It’s true—food tastes better when it’s cooked outdoors. Plus, it’s more fun to make food over an open fire than in the kitchen. So much fun, in fact, that the whole family will want to get in on the act.
With a fire pit you can have a safe fire even in a small garden, burning charcoal or wood. If you use wood, choose hardwoods (for example, maple or oak) because they burn cleaner than softwoods (for example, pine or spruce). Always keep a hose or a bucket of water nearby just in case sparks escape the metal ring.
You can use a grill or roast sausages and marshmallows on sticks. Eat off paper plates—instead of washing the dishes just throw them in the fire!