Do you have a little spot of dirt for your kids to garden in? If not, today I’d like to challenge you to think about your outdoor spaces and see if you can come up with a spot that’s just for the kids. It can be anything from a large plot to a couple of planters.
Children learn through hands-on experiences, and this project will enable them to spend time outdoors, design their own garden, and make a deep connection with plants and nature.
If you live in the Northern hemisphere, there’s a good chance that you’ve been knee-deep in dirt at some point in the past month. We have a small garden that’s keeping us busy with our share of vegetable planting, soil tilling, and outdoor beautifying.
In the process of involving my kids in all my garden projects, they’ve grown their own fascination for dirt, creepy crawlies, plants, roots, and flowers. When my neighbor suggested that we turn a sad and dusty little spot of land between our houses into a kids’ garden, I knew this would be a fun project for us.
We started out with a chat about the dirt patch, and I shared that she would have the opportunity to design her own garden. We talked a bit about our vision and she couldn’t wait to get to the garden store.
I gave her a limit of fifteen plans, and she had to make some choices.
When she spotted these technicolor cacti, she decided that she wanted a section of the garden to be a cactus garden. Not exactly kid-friendly, but it’s what she wanted. And I have to agree that these little plants are spectacular. We decided to put them into a planter on the side of the garden.
I outlined the space with some bricks that remained from a neighbor’s garden excavation. Score. We then filled the space with three bags of garden soil (2 cubic feet each).
My Father-in-law bought my kids a little kid rake last summer, and it was perfect for this project. We also picked up some new gardening gloves, which I think go a long way for generating enthusiasm for a project like this.
Oh, and since it was a hot day and water would be involved (at some point), my kids insisted on the bathing suits. Love it.
Nutmeg chose the big pavers to line a path in her garden.
She decided on the direction of the path and I helped her set them into the dirt.
And then she decided where her flowers would go. I mostly dug the holes, just to make sure they were deep enough. Little Rainbow wasn’t such a big help, but she hung out, wore her new garden gloves, and talked about the dirt and flowers. Success all around.
So, what do you think? Do you have a little spot of land or a few planters you can set aside for your child to dig in, design, and call their own?
- Make an Organic Vegetable Garden with Children and Making a Play Garden from The Imagination Tree
- A collection of childrens’ digging areas in Playgrounds gone natural, from Modern Parents Messy Kids
- Not sure where to start with gardening? Read 12 Top Tips for Gardening with Young Children, from Sun Hats and Wellie Boots
- Add some diggers and loose parts to a dirt corner for Back Yard Play Spaces: Dirt Pile, from Go Explore Nature
- Fairy Garden, Thrifting for the Garden, Fifty Earth Day Activities, DIY Water Wall, Winter Gardening, from Tinkerlab
I’ve partnered with GoGo squeeZ, the first squeezable, re-sealable, no-mess, 100% fruit, no-sugar added applesauce based snack for kids in the U.S, as a Playbassador, which means that I have more reasons to share fun outdoor activities that celebrate play and creativity. All opinions in this post are my own.
Love the girls gardening in their bathing suits! I have photos of of all of my little ones planting in their swimsuits in the summer.
I remember getting to totally plant my own flower garden when I was younger. I did it in the shape of a heart. Such a wonderful experience. We don’t have as much yard in this house as we are used to so my Dad built us a wooden large stand with drainage to plant herbs and veggies in this year so we have our own “garden”. Our big planting day is Saturday. So fun!
How did your planting day go? I love the image of you planting a heart-shaped garden! Kids come up with the best ideas, and it’s great to hear that you remember it to this day.
oh I love the little path through the middle!
My kids all chose a plant for the big pots out front of our house last weekend… can’t wait till we are choosing seeds from the spring catalog! Enjoy your glorious weather and your gardening… such an important thing for kids to do!
Now that my kids are getting older and beginning to understand how planting works, I think they’d get a lot out of picking out seeds. I’ll have to give that a go in the Spring. The path helps keep the mud in its place — she really values that element!
What a lovely project for the whole family to get involved in. We love gardening in our house. I have written a series of creating kid friendly spaces in a small spaces. I would love for you to have a look.
Thanks for sharing the link, Ali. Look forward to checking it out!
Ahhh, nothing cuter than a tutu and gardening!!
My daughter has her own little patch too. It’s such a great experience for them in so many ways.
I love the tutu as well — my kids are so into dressing up right now.
My 7 year old always wants the succulents, too, which luckily thrive here in SoCal. I think it’s wonderful to give kids their own little space in the family backyard. That space may change as they grow & change interests, but it will remain special to them. Thanks for the shout out!
I love giving you shout-outs, Debi — your blog is fantastic. I look forward to seeing how their garden plots change as they get older, too.
Aw, I love the swim suits, especially the tutu. Gardening is such fun, and there are so many experiences. Playing in the dirt, smelling all the aromas, and then, the pride of growing something. I love the path your daughter designed too! 🙂
Thanks so much, Crystal. I could spend hours outside and I hope that my kids grow to feel the same way.
I guess I’ll be the 5th person to comment about the tutu/swimsuit gardening photo and just say….wow, that one’s a heart breaker.
Girl power in it’s full glory.
haha!! and you’re not the last, apparently! i had no idea the tutu would be such a big hit!
What a fun post! I am glad to see that it is so warm and sunny out there in the bay area 🙂
you will love, love, love it, mariah!
Great project for the little ones. 🙂 I remember my parents getting me and my sister into gardening when we were little – had a section of garden and got to plant just what we wanted, though didn’t manage to maintain it very well…
Well, we’ll see how this one goes, Simon. It’s not in an irrigated area of the garden and it may require more maintenance than the kids are willing to give it. Fingers crossed!
Great post. C and I have always gardened together since the very beginning. Our first zucchini came up recently. She keeps asking me to look at it each day. She has a lot of pride in our gardening….it rubs off on her……just like my parents love of gardening rubbed off on me. I’ve always planned to do a post on gardening and maybe you have inspired me to do the same.
Beautiful Cactuses. My father has always loved cactuses and even has grown prickly pear kind (I think) outside even in Ohio
You know what’s funny, because you’ve written about so many outdoor art-related things, I feel like you’ve done something about the garden. No? I’d love to read what you have to say on this topic! And I can’t believe your dad has luck growing cacti in Ohio!! Amazing.
I love the idea of bringing gardening projects home to get kids outdoors and enjoying hands-on nature. Also, the pink tutu is adorbs ^_^.
As a teacher, I’ve begun a blog on teaching creativity, and recently I wrote a post about the connection to the outdoors and divergent thinking. What I learned from scientific research was that taking kids out into natural settings, even if it is a park or garden, is actually a means to increase creativity. A nice bonus to a day out with fantastic pink cactus!
Thank you for a vibrant example. If you’re interested, you can check out my article on nature and creativity here:
That’s so awesome, Rei! Congrats on the new blog…it looks great! Given your d. school affiliation, we may know some of the same people!
My littest one has the same pink tutu swimming suit, so cute. We love gardening with kids at our house and have shared quite a few resources for parents on our site. We’d love for your readers to stop by http://theeducatorsspinonit.blogspot.com/2012/06/gardening-with-blog-hop-tons-of-great.html
Thanks very much for sharing the link. The more resources, the better!
Oh the bathing suits and Little Rainbows delicious little legs! Looks like she is a very good supervisor! What a great project. Our TIC partners have 2 kids who are roughly the same age as my 2 kids (who look to be about the ages of your kids)…we’ve been trying to think of good summer projects…we have a very small outdoor space. We might be able to do some container gardening. Thank you for the inspiration!
Oh, I’m so happy to hear that this might inspire you to do something similar in your outdoor space. Also, check out Go Explore Nature’s Outdoor Play Space (link above) for less planting and more dirt/digging…another great approach.
My son visits his grandparents weekly, one week they put some tomato plants in two barrels. He loved watching them grow each week (the time in between visits made the growth really visible). And waiting for the green fruit to turn red was a good lesson in patience. I am pretty impressed with just how many tomatoes 6 plants have produced! We have a bounty of cherry and heirloom, and I had forgotten how good real tomatoes taste. My son has enjoyed taking little bags of his harvest to his teachers and friend’s mothers. And while he HASN’T ACTUALLY EATEN ONE YET, he has licked a few, which I consider progress! So even if you only have a small space, give it a try!
I know exactly what you’re saying. We have two tomato plants (in planters) and the tomatoes are just turning yellow. N noticed that this morning and got so excited. It’s been weeks of watching them grow and it’s a great lesson in patience! I bet your son will be eating those tomatoes by the end of summer! And you’re right — you don’t need a lot of space to make this work.
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