In this day of video games, television, Internet and cell phones, it is sometimes hard to get kids interested in outdoor activities. It is possible if you find something to motivate them. Learning about nature, watching things that you put in the ground grow or just playing with the dirt is fun enough to capture a child's attention. Take them with you to purchase supplies, plants, seeds and size-appropriate gardening tools, so they will feel part of the process. There are several ideas for kids and gardening that are sure to get them moving.
Start a compost project so that the kids can see how topsoil is made. Get a small compost bin and add dirt and strips of newspaper. Mix in leaves, pine needles and other organic material and dampen it with water. Add worms and put on the lid. Make sure there are some holes in the lid for ventilation. A clear tub container will work well for this, and it will let the kids see the mixture as it breaks down. Have them put some kitchen scraps in after a week and watch how this is also slowly broken down by the worms.
Let Them Get Dirty
Have the kids take some of the compost they created and mix it in with the dirt in the ground or pots. Explain how this is a nutrient-rich material that will help feed the plants. Using something that they helped make as part of the growing process will give them some pride and let them see that they are contributing.
Have the kids choose some unique plants that they would love to tend, such as tall sunflowers, or moon flowers that open up only in the evening. You might also try growing gourds and explaining all the things that you can make from them when they have grown, such as bird houses. Pumpkins are a fun choice for fall, that can result in days of other activities like cooking pumpkin pies and bread, toasting seeds, and of course, carving jack-o-lanterns.
Let the kids harvest the vegetables or flowers. If they did all the hard work, they should enjoy the pleasure of bringing in the food. The pride they will feel in showing off the tomato that is fully ripe or the strawberry bush that finally gave them juicy fruit is increased if they get to actually pull it off the vine themselves. It is also hard for kids to understand that adults sometimes grow flowers and just look at them. They are pretty, and the young ones will want to pick them. Let them. Their love for gardening will be increased, and you can always grow more.
Create a garden tee-pee. Take three or four wood beams and lean them in on each other to form a cone shape. Tie twine around the top where the beams meet so that they won't shift or fall. Let the children plant vine plants such as morning glories or jasmine. As the plants grow, train them up the beams.
Make fairy houses to place among the gardens to excite kids. Use natural things such as sticks and moss as well as scrap objects like bottle caps and wrappers like a fairy might find.