Young children love gardening. The outdoor world holds such joy for small people who can be inspired by the wonders of nature to a point where it influences their future life. Every minute spent in the garden as a pre-school child or primary pupil is a valuable experience, especially during our era of digital obsession. Here are 10 suggestions to get those small people enjoying the outdoor world.
The month of May plays host to National Children's Gardening Week, when families and schools are encouraged to get kids involved with gardening. This doesn't need to be an onerous task. There are simple projects that can be started on a kitchen table on a rainy day, then continued outside when it's dry.
Planting seeds in eggboxes, for example. What could be simpler? Sunflower seeds start to sprout soon after planting and they can be enjoyed indoors before finding a sheltered spot in the garden.
Runner beans are great too because the seeds are large and tactile, just right for little fingers to push into the compost. You can also get young gardeners to decorate yoghurt pots or empty eggshells to look like heads, then fill with compost and sow with cress or grass seed. As the seed sprouts it will look like hair. What fun!
Supported by the National Garden Gift Voucher scheme, National Children's Gardening Week normally takes place towards the end of May, but why wait until then? You can enthuse your small people so easily and enable them to enjoy the wholes of spring and long summer days outdoors. Encourage them to get their hands dirty and give them lots of ideas and they will become enthralled by all the garden has to offer.
If you or your school cares to follow National Children's Gardening Week on Facebook, you will have access to great little projects including using bags for vegetable growing (potato sacks are so easy!)
Giving kids some small-sized tools is also a winner. Buy them a little watering can that they can fill and lift easily, it's a great way to give them a truly useful job to perform.
But take heed of fobbing them off with little plastic tools that don't work. Some of the mini- trowels and forks make digging in the soil practically impossible. Most children will soon lose interest or prefer to use your full-sized working tools instead. There are proper scaled-down versions of the real thing that work perfectly. You can experiment with all sorts of things outdoors, and if the weather is too cold or wet, try indoor tasks instead. There are, for instance, several ways you can form little pots for sowing seeds: into yoghurt cartons, egg boxes or make your own using newspaper (see photo below).
Did you know that nine out of 10 primary schools participate in some sort of school gardening? Around a third of these schools feature gardening within the curriculum, whilst others offer the activity as an after-school or lunchtime club. Most primary school teachers agree that gardening helps to improve pupils behaviour as well as both their physical and mental wellbeing. It also encourages kids to practice their fine motor skills and helps them to learn how to work in a team, thereby improving their social skills.
The Government wants more primary schools to create nature-friendly school grounds, vegetable, flower and wildlife gardens and even forest schools. This is all great news and parents are also encouraged to develop the activity at home. Ask you own primary school if it participates, then you can continue the theme at home.
Research by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) suggests that children really do perform better at school if they are actively involved with gardening. They are also likely to develop an interest in healthy eating if they grow their own vegetables too.
It's never too early to start! Even babies enjoy looking at fluttering leaves, colourful and scented flowers and buzzy bees in the garden. Try the great outdoors in spring and beyond, it's good for everyone!
Everyone loves a game and there are so many you can play in the garden. Fun games such as home-made treasure hunts and simple den-building are something that everyone can engage in on so many didfferent levels..
Large Teapot watering can in 6 different colours
Poodle Watering Can in 2 different colours
Childrens Farm Animals Umbrella in 4 different designs