Easter is just around the corner, and that means school holidays. Quality time with family, and the kids, and no doubt they’ll keep you on your feet. Why not make the most of what warm weather remains, and get your kids outside, and into the garden, with these green ideas:
Children are natural gardeners. They love to play in the dirt, and they’re naturally curious. Getting them to help you in the garden, or giving them their own little space to plant builds a positive relationship with our natural world, grows their understanding of where their food comes from and teaches them responsibility.
If you want to let your child start their ‘own’ garden, the trick is to keep it simple and easy, but also bright and delicious. Choose a mixture of flowers, herbs and veggies that grow easily and are relatively hardy, but are also exciting. It’s great when kids can see the bright colours, and smell, taste and feel what they’re growing. As we head towards a dry, cold Winter, some seasonal ideas are nasturtiums, peas, radishes and strawberries. Set your child up for success – pick a spot with healthy, well-drained soil and good sun, and get them their own tools (watering can, spade, gloves, etc.). It’s also important to let your child make choices. Sit with them and give them all the options, what needs sun, what needs lots of water, and let them choose what they would like to grow. This helps to build their confidence, encourages them to take responsibility, and they also start to learn about the different herbs, veggies and flowers.
Kids also love being creative, so finding ways to express this creativity outdoors is a great way to keep them entertained. Here are some ideas to get their creative juices flowing:
- Encourage your child to make friends with the birds in your garden, by building a bird feeder with them, and painting a bird bath. Show them what birds like to eat, and they can learn to put their apple cores, sandwich crusts and seeds out for the birds. You can even buy them a bird book, and soon you’ll have an avid birder on your hands!
- Let your children paint rocks, plant markers and pots, to decorate the garden with. Teach your children the names of the plants, which they can then paint onto markers or rocks.
- If you’re not sure about letting your child loose with a paint brush and a pile of rocks, why not buy them a blank notebook that they can keep as a plant journal of sorts. Show them the different veggies, herbs and flowers, and let them draw and colour to their hearts content. You can also show them how to take cuttings and flowers and press them in the journal to dry. If you’re an avid gardener, you may already have a gardening journal, and you can let your child contribute to your journal, with their drawings.
For many of us, fitting in real exercise with everything else we do can seem impossible, and just taking care of the kids can feel like exercise! But heading into the garden with your kids can be a fun way to get the heart rate up. Why not start a fun family exercise, like learning to throw a frisbee around the garden, or playing ‘piggy in the middle’ with a soccer ball. Or perhaps you all work together to teach your dog to play fetch. The trick is to find something that everybody enjoys. That way it feels less like a chore, and more like a lot of fun!
As the days get shorter, and the evenings cooler, let’s take advantage of the last rays of summer sun. And playing outside with your kids is good for you, and good for them. A healthy dose of Vitamin D, a little green, a little dirt, and lots of laughs – exactly what’s needed these school holidays!