Gardening with kids | 9 ideas to involve children in the garden

Ideas for including children in the garden.

Keeping kids engaged, learning and having fun can be a big task at times. Especially during the holidays, it can be a challenge to keep them busy! Getting kids involved in the garden is a fantastic way to keep kids occupied, not to mention all the lessons there are to be learned from nature. 

Spending some quality time with kids in the garden will hopefully “plant the seed” for a love of gardening that they can take with them into the future.

Sally Shaw of Gubba Garden Store has helped us put together some fun ideas for budding gardeners.

Involving kids in the garden

Start a worm farm

This one comes with SO many benefits – not just learning and fun for kids, but it’s great for your garden & for the environment! Choose a worm farm set-up that suits you – there are many styles to choose from (we think the Subpod is particularly fun for kids, as you can dig it in at ground level so they can access it easily – but any worm farm is great). Add some tiger worms, your food scraps, and you’re off! 

Have your kids help you empty the scrap bucket every other day and check on all of your little worm friends. Try the apple core experiment with them – place an apple core in, and check on its progress every few days. Have them take photos so they can track how long it takes to break down.

Get them growing

Helping them to grow their own veggies, herbs and flowers is an obvious but rewarding one. There are lots of kid-friendly growing options – we’ve noticed our kids get excited about these plants in particular: radish, carrots, rainbow beetroot, snow peas, spinach, strawberries, and any wildflowers. Or for something a bit quicker / low maintenance, try a grass hair kit.

Succulents grow from just a leaf – go for a walk around the garden or neighbourhood and take a few cuttings. Plant them together and see what you can grow!

Vegetable scrap re-growing is also great to do with little gardeners. Keep the base of leafy veggies such as lettuce, celeryor bok choy, and place it in a shallow dish with the cut-side up. Fill the dish with a few centimetres of water, place on a sunny windowsill and watch it regrow! Remember to have your little helper top up the water when needed. Once you see some new green growth you can plant it out in the garden together. 

Create a bug hotel

Teach your little ones the importance of our beneficial bees and insects. Create a bug hotel with them! They’ll love seeing which bugs come to “check in” to their hotel. You can make this as simple or elaborate as you wish. 

Start by finding a vessel: a wooden box or crate, old drawers, whatever you have! Pay a visit to your local op shop or recycle centre if you don’t have anything at home. Then, have fun hunting for materials to fill it up with. This could be…

  • Old bamboo stakes from the garden
  • Twigs or sticks
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Bricks
  • Broken terracotta pots or dishes
  • Bricks with holes in them

Just remember to stay away from soft plastics, treated timber, or anything mouldy. Lastly, if you want your bug hotel to last, have the kids paint it with a stain.

(Another option is to buy these awesome pre-made ones – the Eco Shelter or this smaller Bee & Insect House.)

Press your own flowers

This one is also fun for adults (in our opinion anyway!). Take a walk with your kids around the garden or neighbourhood, collecting beautiful and interesting flower and foliage treasures as you go. Most flowers, herbs, grasses, petals, and leaves work well, but keep in mind that the best flowers for pressing are those with a single layer of petals, and flat faces. Also, make sure your flowers and foliage are completely dry before pressing.

If using the tried and true method of pressing between the pages of a book – remember to sandwich your flowers / foliage between a layer of paper (this absorbs the water). Thin cardboard or parchment paper works well. Arrange your garden treasures with a few centimeters of space between them, carefully close the book, and place a weight on top – this could be more books, a brick, or whatever you have. The pressing process takes about 2-4 weeks depending on the thickness of the plant. Once they’re done, have your kids create artwork with their results! They make great gifts for friends and family. 

For a quicker / easier process, you could also invest in a wooden flower press

Paint your own gnome, pot or rock

Self-explanatory but always a big hit with kids. Terracotta pots are great for painting, especially if they get to plant their own flowers or herbs inside once they’re done! Or they’ll love this Paint Your Own Garden Gnome (in fact, they’ll love painting any old garden ornaments you already have, that may need a spruce-up). You can never go wrong with good-old rock painting, too. 

Collect slugs & snails

This makes for some effective organic pest control… a “who can find the most slugs or snails” competition always works a treat! Or, for extra motivation, pay them 10c per snail and see how many they manage to find.

Flower experiment with food colouring

Another oldie but a goodie… let them experiment with some flowers and food colouring! A fun way to learn how water moves through plants. Get hold of some white flowers. This also works well with bunny tails if you live near the beach. 

  1. Trim the stems of your flowers at an angle
  2. Add 5-10 drops of food colouring to a jar or glass filled with water
  3. Place in your flowers, and wait for the magic to happen!

Most fun when done with multiple different colours. Try using several types of flowers to see which works best!

Soil pH experiment

Here is a simple DIY experiment you can try with kids to test your soil pH. Not quite as exciting as making a volcano, but still a simple ‘science-y’ experiment! 

You’ll need: 2 bowls, a cup of soil, ½ a cup of water, ½ a cup of baking soda and ½ a cup of vinegar.

  1. Place 2 tablespoons of soil into each bowl
  2. In one bowl, mix in ½ a cup of water & ½ a cup of baking soda
  3. In the other bowl, mix in ½ a cup of vinegar

Notice if either mixture foams or fizzes. If the baking soda mixture fizzes, your soil is on the acidic side. If the vinegar mixture fizzes, your soil is more alkaline. If nothing happens to either mixture, you have neutral soil.

Fairy / Dragon potions

Set kids up with a wooden spoon and a bucket filled with water, and let them create their own special fairy potion with foraged petals, leaves, or grass (just remember to keep an eye on any precious plants you don’t want them to plunder).

There are so many ways to enjoy the garden with your kids – let them take the lead and see where the activity takes you!