A family outdoor activity which you could introduce to your children is “Gardening” No! that doesn’t mean getting your kids to pull weeds….. although that might be an alternative to the “Naughty Spot”
Anyway, getting back to the point, Spring is a great time to be planting seeds and seedlings. Get the kids involved, attend the local plant nursery or even the supermarket as a family, pick out a punnet or two of seedlings. It’s a good idea to let your kids pick out a punnet each, but be sure to explain to each child what type of seedling they are about to select, also be sure to show them what sort of fruit or vegetable those seedlings are expected to produce.
Depending on your powers of persuasion, try to encourage your children to pick out seedlings such as Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Pumpkin or even Lettuce. This is because they are fairly easy to grow and are something you can expect your kids to eat when you harvest…… If your child picks out “Chilli” seedlings it may be a problem when it comes time to try the fresh produce.
If you have an area in the yard which can be dug up and planted out, you might need to get Dad to do the digging and let the kids do the planting. For those who may not have an area in the back yard, you can plant your seedlings in large plastic pots or something similar. Once the seedlings are planted you will be able to encourage the kids to water the plants almost every day and inspect the growth and development of their little babies.
Apart from the watering, your kids can also do the daily “snail” patrol and remove any which pose a threat to the success of their plants development. Once again, let each activity become an educational process for your children, be sure to explain that while snails are harmless little critters, they can be devastating to plants and therefore must be relocated to another home. (or squashed) which may become yet another point of education.
If you are really serious about getting a good amount of produce from these seedlings you can use organic fertilisers to promote healthy plants. Once again get the kids involved in the process and explain how fertiliser is basically a food or vitamin for the plants.
For parents who would really like to make gardening a fun but “Educational” activity you could increase the level of involvement for the kids by recording plant growth each day or week. The idea is simple, just create a graph as shown in the image and get the kids to measure the total height of their seedlings for each period of time. Record the results in a notepad and put a “dot” on the corresponding area of the graph. (This activity will best for tomato seedlings) You could also record how many tomato’s each individual plant produces.
At the end of your record keeping ask your little gardeners to explain why one particular plant may have grown faster than another, or why one particular plant might have produced more tomato’s than another. Let your kids provide their own explanations, depending on the ages of your children you might want to put the answer into a question, for example ask your child “Do you think this plant got less sunlight than this plant because it was being shaded by the other plants?”
Parents can also turn the whole gardening experience into a little experiment for the kids by suggesting that half of the plants be given “Organic Fertiliser” and the other half be provided nothing. While this will result in less produce from the plants being deprived of fertiliser, it can be a way of teaching kids the value of good nutrition as plants are like humans, in that we all thrive on getting the right nutrients in our diets.
Depending on which seedlings you are growing and also depending on the weather and a few other variables, your kids will have several weeks worth of outdoor fun in looking after their plants and most likely about 8 weeks to wait before they can eat what they have grown.
There are so many ways of making gardening more interesting, more fun and more educational for the kids. In this article, I have only scratched the surface.
Good Luck and may the sunny weather shine on your child’s garden.
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