Get gardening with your children these holidays. Here are some great gardening activities, projects, and ideas to get kids started. This should keep them busy for at least a few days!
Getting out and about in the garden is a nice way to spend time with your children, and the school holidays give you a good chance to really get stuck in.
Whether it’s planting a vegetable garden or growing flowers from seed, gardening provides kids with many valuable lessons. The practical aspects of gardening teach children basic maths and science, but gardening also teaches responsibility, encourages creativity, and provides a positive place for children to think, relax, and recharge.
It doesn’t matter whether you have a big garden, small garden, or no garden at all; there are plenty of activities you can get started on no matter what your environment.
These holidays, why not grab your shovel and trowel and get growing with your child. Here are some great ideas to get you started.
8 great gardening activities for kids
1. Build a Sunflower House
A sunflower house is something really spectacular, and definitely worth the time and effort.
Start by marking out a square in your backyard which indicates the ‘walls’ of your house. Dig a garden trench along the walls, and plant sunflower seeds (or plants) along the trench. Don’t forget to leave a gap for the door so the kids can get in! As the sunflowers start to grow, steady the plants using bamboo stakes and before you know it, you will have walls of sunflowers – a vibrant blaze of yellow.
Children love playing in their sunflower house, and it’s a fabulous place to host a garden party or teddy bears picnic.
2. Plant a Vegetable Garden
One of the great things about vegetable gardens is that children get to reap real rewards for their efforts, and you’ll be surprised by what they will eat if they’ve grown it themselves.
Which vegetables you can plant will depend largely on the time of year, but there’s always something in planting season. Buy yourself a good gardening guide, and use your gardening adventure to grow food your child may not have tried before.
You don’t need to make a huge garden; in fact, there are many vegetables you can grow in pots or planters. Cherry tomatoes, capsicums, and zucchinis are all easy to grow and provide some fairly quick results, or if you have the room, pumpkins grow with very little help.
Your children will love the idea of actually producing something, and will get real joy in picking the fruits of their harvest.
3. Herb Heaven
If the idea of planting a vegetable garden seems a little ambitious, try making a herb garden instead. Herb plants are obviously available from garden centres, but most supermarkets also have a selection of herb plants and they only cost a few dollars.
Everyday herbs like parsley, chives, and mint are easy to grow, and your child can start enjoying them instantly.
Like vegetables, herbs can be grown in pots as well as gardens, so no matter where you live a herb garden is definitely attainable.
4. Make a Hanging Basket
Nothing says “instant gratification” like a hanging basket. You will need a wire basket, a basket liner (or some hay), potting mix, and a selection of small flowering annuals.
Simply fill the basket with potting mix and plant your flowers in the top. To create a basket that is completely encased in flowers, cut slits in the basket liner and poke flower plants in from the sides and bottom.
Hanging baskets don’t last forever, but it will give you something to replant every holidays, and the results are instant.
5. All that Rubbish
A compost heap may not sound all that glamorous, but setting one up is lots of fun, especially if your child likes the idea of mess and muck. You can make one in a bin, box, or just a heap, and there are several ways to get it started. A good garden guide will give you all your start-up options, or contact your local Environment Centre for some help.
Once the compost is set-up, your child can take responsibility for making sure it is well fed. Have them decorate a bucket for food scraps, and let them be in charge of emptying it every day. You’ll be surprised how well they take on the chore, if they’ve been a part of the process right from the start.
Turning your everyday compost into a worm farm is something that will make it even more interesting. The zero waste trust provides good worm farm instructions on their website.
6. Seeds and Sprouts
Young children love growing seeds and bulbs indoors, and you don’t need a lot to get started.
Simply use an empty egg carton as your seed tray, fill each compartment with potting mix, and plant your seeds. Bean seeds and grass seeds grow quickly, so children get results before they lose interest.
7. Make your own terrarium
Large wide necked jars make cute glasshouses for children’s rooms. Simply line the base of the jar with small stones, or gravel, then ¼ fill the jar with potting mix, and put a few more decorative stones on top. Small white stones work really well.
Plant a cactus or two in the bottom and it’s ready to go. If your child’s feeling really creative, they can make other garden ornaments to put inside the glasshouse as well.
Inhabitat.com also suggest adding some charcoal granules to the lower layers. This helps reduce bacteria, fungi and odours.
Garden Crafting Ideas
There are plenty of projects your child can make to use in the garden. You can adapt them all to suit any age group, and most can be made using everyday items. These ideas will start you thinking.
8. Painted pots
Paint and decorate plain terracotta pots, rocks, and pebbles. Old outdoor bowls also look great painted in bright colours for the garden. There really are no rules with this one, anything goes! You may want to spray, or coat, the finished product with sealant so it lasts outside. Find out all about painted rocks here.
9. Mosaic pavers
Mosaic rocks, pots and pavers. This is a more technical crafting project, and probably suitable for older kids. The basic idea though is to glue broken bits of glass and pottery in a design you like onto a paver or pot, let dry, then apply grout to the cracks, and wipe off the excess with a sponge.
Check out this great video from Style.kiwi for inspiration:
10. Make your own garden labels and signs
Make garden labels and signs to identify all the plants in the garden.
You can make garden signs from everyday materials, like icecream container lids and bits of old timber. Or you can get super-creative and make them out of flattened spoons, or even shells. Check out this great article by The Micro Gardener for inspiration.
11. Make a garden mobile
Thread shells, pumice, driftwood and other natural treasures onto fishing line to make a great garden mobile.
You can hang these randomly from trees. Or join them together on a single piece of driftwood as a great looking garden mobile.
These are easy and fun to make. And they require a trip to the beach for fossicking, which is always a great school holiday activity (especially when they kids are starting to crawl up the walls!).
12. Painted gumboots
Let your kids paint up their old gumboots and turn them into plant pots. Painting old gumboots is such a cool crafting idea. And it’s a good way to recycle your kid’s gumboots that no longer fit.
You can use any acrylic paint, or sharpies, or gold and silver pens. But you will need to spray a few coats of clear sealant over the top. Just be careful using this around the kids, and make sure you have the proper masks, ventilation, etc.
13. Make a bonsai tree
Try making a bonsai tree. Your local Bonsai Club will be able to point you in the right direction. Lots of clubs offer short courses in bonsai care, and have resources for beginners to get you started.
You can find bonsai pots, and tools, from more garden centres these days. This makes getting started a breeze. And it’s a very simple artform for kids to understand and try out, even though it can take many years to become truely efficient in the art.
Above all else, don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and have fun. If you’re inspired by one of these 13 great gardening activities for kids but don’t fancy yourself a ‘gardener’, just give it it a go. You may find a green thumb you never knew you had!
For more great ideas for gardening with your kids, check out our Get gardening section.