One of the best ways to recover from a long, cold winter is to get outside and help green things grow.
Gardening is also a wonderful opportunity to share with children the beauty and science of nature, along with the value of working in outdoors with their hands (and not on a keyboard or touchscreen). It doesn't have to be a major undertaking — with just a little care and patience even a small patch of earth or window box can produce vibrant flowers, vegetables or herbs.
Here are a few ways to get your own young sprouts helping!
Start with a good pair of gloves. Not only will it help them feel just like you, it will protect their hands from scratches and any fertilizer or pesticide in the dirt. You can hose off these rubber gloves, which is sure to add to the giggles.
Let them carry water. One of the simplest but actually important ways a child can help is to water the plants. The trick is to get a can that they can carry even when full. It might take more than a few trips back and forth to the hose or sink to refill, but that's part of the fun for little ones, not to mention good motor control practice.
A small tote is also handy for keeping their little tools in one place as you move between gardens, beds or flower pots. Always good to reinforce the importance of tidying up and organizing your things!
As kids get older, there are lots of creative ways to introduce more sophisticated gardening. The Poppin Petunia kit is perfect for starting easy-to-grow but very pretty flowers indoors and then transplanting them to an outdoor garden.
Gardening also gives you another chance to discuss the important part that plants and flowers play in the natural cycle with other living things. In addition to a delightful decoration activity, Butterly Glamour Garden lets your child plant seeds in a germination down and grow flowers that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
There is an amazing amount of diversity in plants, and sometimes it's good to look beyond the traditional beauty. This Dinosaur Plant, for instance, is an amazing prehistoric plant that will close up and go to sleep — for up to 50 years! — when deprived water, but then suddenly revive over the course of a several hours when water is reintroduced. It actually needs to sleep for about two weeks twice a year to stay healthy.
Warmer weather is on its way! Let's all get ready to go play in the dirt with our kids.