As we finally get some warmer weather, we can’t wait to get outside with our little ones. Gardening with kids has so many benefits for both adults and children like an appreciation for the outdoors, skill building, better coordination, and more. 

At Sawyer, our mission is to help children develop their own love of learning through in-person and online classes as well as resources and guides for parents. If you are interested in springing into spring by gardening with your children, we’ve got everything you need to get started!

Gardening with kids

How does gardening help child development?

According to Michigan State University, young children who start helping out in the garden can practice both fine and gross motor skills as well as body management and object control. They might carry items that are heavier than usual like a watering can but they also need to practice coordination to pick up tiny objects like seeds. 

Benefits of gardening with toddlers

Young children also get to experience a wide variety of senses in the garden, which can help with their child development. They can smell and feel the dirt and flowers, play with the water from the hose, and explore all of the colors around them. Developing curiosity for the world around them is a great early childhood skill.

You can also help your young child with their development by asking open-ended questions about what you are doing and what they think will happen. Read books for toddlers about gardening, plants, and vegetables like The Tiny Seed and From Seed to Plant, then let them show you what they have learned in the garden.

Photo of gardening with kids

Benefits of gardening with kids

When children spend time gardening, they gain an appreciation and curiosity for science, which can help them academically later in life. Likewise, gardening with kids gives you an opportunity to make math more fun by tracking growth, counting seeds, and learning about measurements. 

Gardening helps children with physical development as well. They learn how to work with their hands, carry heavy loads, and get dirty. It’s beneficial for children to exercise their bodies and get that energy out. Plus, if you grow veggies like spinach, carrots, tomatoes, and garlic, even the pickiest eaters will be more likely to try what they have grown themselves.

Children who spend time in the garden with their families also build important memories, relationships, and connections. They get fresh air and time away from their screens while practicing responsibility and self sufficiency. Let your child have 1-2 plants that are “theirs” and give them the chance to take care of them. It will do wonders for their self-esteem and future successes in life. Chores are beneficial to kids, so don’t shy away from letting them be in charge!

Photo of benefits of gardening with kids

Plant activities for toddlers and kids

If you are ready to get out in the garden with your children, but the weather is not warm enough, these plant activities for toddlers and kids will help keep the excitement going until the time comes!

Which soil is best?

For this plant activity, you need 5 mason jars, 4 different types of soil (for example: dirt from the yard, vegetable potting soil, plant potting soil, sand, and a mix), and 15 seeds. Make sure that your child understands the basics of how seeds grow, then make predictions about which type of soil will be best for growth. Put the same amount of soil and 3 seeds in each mason jar, then place them in a sunny spot, water them each day, and watch to see how they grow!

How do plants drink water?

Take fresh white carnations and use a knife to cut the bottom stem tips of a few carnations. Pour half a cup of water into a glass or vase and then add 20 drops of food coloring. Put 3 carnations into each glass and use the stem to mix the coloring and water until it dissolves. Observe the flowers immediately after you put them in the water, then 2, 4, 24, 48, and 72 hours later. You should be able to see the dye move through the carnation and color the capillaries!

Grow grass heads

This is a perfect plant activity for toddlers! Let them decorate a plastic cup to look like a face. Then, add some soil and grass seeds to the cup. Let it grow and grow and grow, until the grass needs a haircut! Safely help them take care of their grass head and learn responsibility, fine motor skills, and so much more.

Gardening safety for toddlers and kids

While there are many benefits of gardening with kids and toddlers, it is important to remember that safety comes first. Use these tips to ensure gardening safety for toddlers and kids this spring.

  1. Keep little ones close. Working outside with children is great, but make sure that you pay attention to their whereabouts while you are outdoors. Don’t let them wander towards the road or other homes, keep them close.
  2. Watch for harmful plants. One of the benefits of gardening with children is that they are more likely to try new vegetables and fruits. However, make sure that they know only to try what you say is ok. Avoid growing thorny plants and look out for poison ivy and other harmful plants on your property.
  3. Be careful with tools. Children like to mimic the adults in their lives. If you are gardening with your little ones, make sure you are not using the sharp and heavy tools. Buy tools just for children and let them know that everything else is off limits.
  4. Lock up pesticides and fertilizers. Never let your child near poisonous items like pesticides and fertilizers. Instead, do those parts of your gardening routine at a different time. Make sure they are locked up when you are done!
  5. Look out for stinging insects. Make sure you let your child know about which insects can hurt them. Wasps, hornets, fire ants, and some caterpillars might sting them. But if your child remains calm and moves away, they should be fine.
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Gardening with kids is a great way to enjoy the fresh air, make memories, and develop important life skills. As long as you are safe, it is a great activity for children and toddlers. If you are looking for more fun in-person and online activities, including science classes, outdoor fun, and open play, check out what our wonderful educators are offering on Sawyer. Happy spring, all!