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Children's Gardening
Getting children interested in gardening is a great way of teaching them to care about the planet, its wildlife and all the factors involved in growing their own plants and food.

Children are sponges for information and have a natural curiosity for most things.

Gardening made simple and fun for children will enable them to learn about plants, wildlife, food, the environment and much more.

Giving a child their own plot and allowing them to fill it with simple plants such as sunflowers is a great way of introducing them to gardening. They will see the product of their work in a fairly short time giving them a sense of achievement that they helped that plant to grow.

Girl with her mother in the garden -  Pavlo Lysenko |

Vegetable growing is also a great way of introducing children to gardening as they not only see the product of their work but they can pick it, clean it, help prepare it and eat it.

Providing them with their own tools to work in the garden and creating projects for them to achieve is a great way of introducing them to the great outdoors and stretching their talents. Indoor gardening can also be achieved for those without gardens or for those rainy days. Displays for the home can be created and scrapbooks are a great inexpensive way of learning about aspects of gardening on a small scale.

Bug Crawl

Children of all ages love bugs and creepy crawlies. Capturing bugs to study them is a fantastic way of introducing them to wildlife. There a bugs a plenty to be found in the garden from worms to ants and slugs to snails. Get your children to go on a bug crawl collecting what they find in plastic containers. Teach them to not mix up different bugs in their containers just in case they eat each other. These can be studies with magnifying glasses. Get your children to identify what they have found and to create drawings of them. They can turn these drawings into their own reference books where they can write where the bugs live, what they eat, how big they are etc.

Ensure the children put the bugs back where they got them from. Teach your children about insects and bugs that may bite or sting so they know to observe them for a distance. Teach older children bigger words to describe what they are seeing, such as arachnids ( 8 legs, no wings and two sections of body), insect ( 3 sections of body, 6 legs, some have wings) etc. Keeping a caterpillar in a jar with some food can also teach your children about the metamorphosis it goes through. Constant checking of the jar will enable your child to see the whole process up close. Once the caterpillar has emerged from it chrysalis as a moth or butterfly allow your child to release it into the garden.
Creating a wormery is also a fantastic way of encouraging your children to respect and interact with nature. Worms are an essential part of any garden and do a really important job with our soil and compost. Children will learn about the worms eco system and how valuable they are in the garden. Teach them that worms are essential for soil fertility and that they also help you out in the compost heap by eating and breaking down the matter that is in there. A simple wormery can be created by children using a glass jar with holes in the lid. Alternate layers of sand and soil in the jar and leave a gap at the top. Get your children to go looking for worms to put in the jar. Once they have put a few in they can top up the jar with some kitchen waste. Worms must be kept dark and moist so ensure the soil is damp when you put it in, keep the jar wrapped in a black sheet of paper in a cool, dark place. Get your children to take out the jar after a few weeks and write down or draw what they see.
Get Creative

Getting your children to create scrapbooks, gardening diaries, picture books and story books about what they do in the garden is a fantastic way of getting them to learn whilst having fun. Children with a talent for drawing may like to draw their garden through the seasons, children good at writing could jot down what they do in their garden throughout the year and other children may like to take photographs of the garden and place them in order. Collecting leaves and sticking them in a book or drawing them is a great start to making a reference book. Get your children to collect leaves of all shapes, sizes and colours when they go out. Give them picture books so that they can identify what trees their leaves fell from. Get them to do a small description of the leaf, see if they already have that leaf in their book and how it has changed from one season to the next. Discuss edible leaves such as cabbage and lettuce. Getting children to plan their own gardens is another way of getting them thinking about their gardens. If you are going to be giving your child a plot of their own first discuss with them what they would like to grow. Discuss the different aspects of growing plants or vegetables. If they decide on plants ask them what kinds. Would they like lots of flowers? Would they prefer lots of green? Get your children to draw their plot on paper first, detailing certain things that they would like to have. There are many plants that are easy for children to grasp when they start and as they get more confident at planting bulbs and sowing seeds you can broaden their spectrums of available plants. Plants such as primroses, pansies, lavender, forget-me-nots and sunflowers are all easy for children to plant. They will provide an array of colour and different fragrances for the children to see and smell. Edibles like lettuce, radish, cress etc will grow very quickly and is a good way to start your children eating healthily.

Teaching your children the importance of having wildlife in your garden is a good way of introducing them to subjects such as environment and eco systems. Introducing wildlife into the garden is easy and can be done on a small scale on your child's plot. Planting lots of colourful, fragrant flowers will attract birds, butterflies and bees, placing a small piece of deadwood on the ground will encourage beetles, and hanging bird boxes and feeders will encourage nesting. Teaching your children about how to look after the world is essential as they are the next generation.
Teach children respect for all living things, to look after their planet and to encourage nature to do its own work. Show them how the wildlife in their own gardens live and breed. Show them how predators keep down instances of pests without any need for chemicals. Teach them about hibernation, feeding habits, if they are nocturnal etc.

Teach them to observe but not to interfere, once the wildlife is in your garden they should be left to go about their lives. Problems with snails and slugs can be sorted out without the use of organic pellets, traps and  salt. Get your children to crush eggshells around the base of their plants, or lay down some abrasive material that they will not like to crawl over. Keeping chickens is a great way of keeping down slug populations and also a great way of teaching your children the responsibility of looking after an animal in the garden.


Child smelling flower

The world in which we live is going through some major changes and while your children obviously do not need to know every detail it would be advisable to discuss certain aspects of climate change with them. How much detail to go into should depend on their ages and as a parent you will know how much they will understand. There are fantastic books and websites that will aid you in your discussions and are aimed at kids of all ages. The discussions of climate change are still ongoing so regular updates on the talk will be needed to see any further developments. This is not about scaring your children in to thinking the world is about to end, it is about informing them that what we as humans do on this planet has an effect globally. If we all chip in to make a change in our lives we can make a difference.
Teach your children about making their own compost from kitchen waste and using worms to break it down, teach them to recycle and how it helps the world, teach them about carbon footprints and that walking and cycling not only keeps you healthy but it also cuts down on emissions. Show your children the changes you have made in your life to assist in slowing down climate change, you may not be around when the world starts getting hotter but your children and their children may.
Anything we do now is for the benefit of the following generations, lets try to ensure that they are more educated than we were. Encourage your children to join forums or clubs that are dedicated to making a change by planting trees and discussing how to conserve energy etc.
Health and Safety

Children need to be informed of basic rules before they commence gardening. As in all activities done with your children do's and don'ts must be established. The garden can be full of potentially harmful things that as adults we tend to glance over because we are used to them and know how to handle them. Children are however naturally inquisitive and may find danger in places you hadn't even considered.


Do tell your children not to touch or eat anything they do not recognise as it may be poisonous or cause burning to the skin.

Do tell your children the dangers of touching equipment without an adult there.

Do give them their own tools and equipment that can be safely used by them in the garden.

Do inform your children the dangers of different chemicals. Show them the labels and teach them what they mean ie Harmful, Toxic, Flammable etc.

Do dress your children appropriately in old clothes and decent footwear.

Do give them plenty of water to drink if it is hot.

Do ensure that all animal excrement is removed from the garden before your children go out there. There are elements in faeces that can cause blindness if rubbed in the eye.

Do teach them the dangers of water if you have a pond or water feature or if they are young ensure that correct barriers are in place to stop them from falling in.


Don't leave your sheds or outbuildings unlocked if you keep your equipment or chemicals in there.

Don't let your children garden in the sun without hats and sun lotion, or if it is cold ensure they are wrapped up.

Don't let your child garden if their tetanus is not up to date as there may be tetanus in your soil.



Proud Nathan showing off his prize lupins

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Title photo: Little happy girl gardening in the summer - Can Stock Photo Inc. / SergeyNivens

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