It's never too early to expose your child to their natural surroundings. There are lots of little ways they help care for a garden. Talk with your kiddo about what they would like to plant. You might take some books out of the library about gardens to get them excited. Think about the things they love: brightly colored flowers, carrots, tomatoes, beans, strawberries, and potatoes. Stick with seeds, plants and flowers that germinate quickly and require little maintenance. Pumpkins, radishes, and wildflowers all grow fast. Sunflowers, marigolds and zinnias are cheery and exciting options as well. Planting what stimulates your toddler will hopefully lead to continued interest!
Our grown-up tools are difficult for kids to manage. Get some child sized tools that kids can wrap their hands around and are light weight. We like this fun, wooden handled children's hand tool set in primary colors!
Teach your toddler how to dig small holes to plant seeds, bulbs, plants or flowers. Show them how to drop seeds in the hole and pat the dirt down gently. They can also look for earthworms, touch and feel the soil, and basically have a blast doing it! You could also create a personal dirt area just for them to dig in, like this awesome antique wheelbarrow.
The only thing that might be more fun than digging in the dirt, is playing with water! Show your little gardener how to use the hose or a small watering can. They will adore watering all of the plants, or at least a few of them before you take over! This is a great time to begin teaching them about how to conserve water as well. Soon they will see sprouts begin to come up and begin to understand how to take care of living things.
Doesn't the food taste so much better when you grow it yourself? Your kids will think so too. Let them pick and sort the fruits and vegetables you planted together. They may even want to indulge in some samples while doing so! Toddlers will feel delighted and completely filled with pride at what they have grown. Salad, anyone?
If you have the room, consider designating a small area that your cutie can call their own. They can dig and plant to their hearts content without fear of messing around with your annuals!
You can buy a container with drainage holes that your child can decorate, or make some out of old coffee cans with holes in the bottom,or milk cartons.Toddlers can plant basil, mint, cilantro, lavendar, dill, just to name a few, and place on a sunny windowsill. They can water the herbs and watch them grow. Consider giving your tot a small bulb syringe filled with water instead of a watering can, as herbs can easily get overwatered. Instant fun and super easy! Have your toddler help you pick the herbs regularly. You can even make a pizza together with your fresh herbs :-)
Let's face it, weeding is a right of passage that's never too early to learn. And what child doesn't want to yank something super hard out of the ground? Just be sure you show them which ones to pull!
Keep a bin of toys nearby when you need to get some serious gardening done. This way, everyone is happy!
Raising your child to appreciate the outdoors, gardening, and how to recognize the value of nature in all of its many forms, is truly a gift that they will pass along to their own children one day. There is so much to learn from growing things. Our #10 is to enjoy making priceless memories together in this wonderful world. Have FUN!
“This is the real secret of life – to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.” – Alan Watts, Work as Play