Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gardening is Fun: Get the Kids Involved!

As the weather warms up, it is only natural for you and your family to want to break out from the confines of indoors. Getting your kids involved in gardening, yard work, and planting is a great way to engage them in new experience and a little physical exercise.

Yes, you could just let your kids fool around on their swing set while you weed your beds but children like to feel helpful so get them involved in the garden chores!  In exchange for their hard work, you can allow them to create one of the following children’s gardening projects.

Garden Projects Designed to Get Your Kids Hands Dirty

Sunflower House

Image credit: photobucket.com 

By planting mammoth sunflower seeds in a square pattern, you can create a secret garden fort for your children to enjoy. This is a good project for the far end of a bed, or even separated from the rest of your garden. Here’s what you will need to do:   
  • Choose a sunny spot, and till an 8’ x 8’ area.    
  • Choose a mammoth sunflower variety and plant 4-6 seeds in clumps six inches apart from each other in an eight foot square pattern. Be sure to leave a two foot gap in the middle of one side for the “door”! 
  • After around two weeks and seedlings have sprouted to about three inches tall, thin them down to 2-3 of the most vigorous in each clump.  Thin them again at two feet tall, leaving your most promising sunflower. These plants grow quickly, giving children many opportunities to check on the progress of their growing “house.”   
The interior of the sunflower house will provide a cool, shaded area for your kids to play all summer long.  If you would like to extend the project even further, you can also harvest the seeds either for your family’s enjoyment or as bird seed.  

Other variations for this project include using a variety of sunflower colors, planting alternating heights of sunflowers (tall ones on the corners and the middle, shorter ones in between like fort posts), and planting climbing vegetables adjacent to the sunflowers. Take a picture of your kid once a month standing next to the growing sunflowers to track the height growth over time.  Your flower fort will look fabulous within your yard next to a traditional children’s play house!

Dinosaur Bed
It can be hard to keep young children from digging wherever they want in your garden.  However, if you give them a dedicated bed just for them, the safety of your favorite flower bed is pretty much assured.  Follow these steps to create your kids their very own “dinosaur bed” to dig about in: 
  • Mark off a 4’x4’ area with sticks, bricks, or plastic (you could even use a hula hoop) that marks the special area that your kid is supposed to dig in. 
  • After tilling the space, bury plastic dinosaur toys for your children to excavate. 
  • Equip your junior archaeologist with a small shovel to dig with, a magnifying glass to inspect the finds, and a plastic bucket to keep their treasures.  Have them draw the finds in their special archaeology field book too!
You’ll have to regularly stock up the space with new treasures for them to excavate, but you’ll be happy to have your kids occupied while you can keep improving the rest of your flower garden!

Katherine Reynolds loves her garden which her two children helped to create, especially since installing an array of playground equipment from Climbing Frames AU for them!

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