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Natural Parenting, sustainability

Gardening Activities For Toddlers & Preschoolers

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Spring is here, and it’s almost time to get your garden ready! Actually, some of you might have already started, but here in Minnesota, we don’t typically get the chance to start until sometime between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. If you are preparing to start your garden and want to include your kids, there are so many awesome gardening activities for toddlers and preschoolers that make it easy for them.

Including my kids in gardening is very important to me. I think it’s very important that kids understand where healthy food comes from, and learning to care for plants is a lifelong skill that will greatly benefit them.

We struggle with picky eating in my house, especially with my oldest child. But you know what I never have a problem getting him to eat? Homegrown veggies! Neither of my kids can get enough! My oldest is even more willing to try a new veggie if it came from our garden than if it came from the grocery store.

I really think getting your kids involved in growing and making their food is a great way to work towards overcoming picky eating. Not a magic bullet, but helpful. When I get that magic bullet figured out, I’ll let you know. 😉

There are other fun garden activities you can do with your kids that don’t revolve around food growing, either. In the list below, I will share a variety of ideas and almost any family should be able to find an activity for their toddler that suits them.

Gardening Supplies

Getting your child some gardening supplies will really help them get in the spirit. My oldest is especially obsessed with shovels and watering cans.

This Clever Kid gardening set is a great quality option if you would like to get something special for your child to use and get excited about. It comes with a watering can, gloves, shovel, rake, trowel, and book with a tote to help carry all the supplies.

However, you don’t have to purchase anything special at all! Kids can use whatever supplies you already have. I do recommend at least getting a pair of toddler-size gardening gloves depending on what it is you plan on growing.

The next step is to decide where and how you will be growing your plants and get supplies accordingly. We have a garden box in our lawn, several large pots for container gardening, a front flower garden, and window box. There are lots of opportunity for all different types of gardening!
garden-box-with-toddlers

If you are starting from the very beginning with your gardening, I recommend container gardening. It’s quick and easy to get started and doesn’t have to be expensive. I got large pots and big bags of dirt from Costco. Here is an inexpensive pot similar to the ones I purchased.

Garden boxes can also be easy to build and relatively inexpensive if you are short on space or don’t want to till up lawn.

Next, you will want to decide on what you want to grow and either get some seeds or purchase some plants at a nursery. Make sure to do your research to see what will grow well in your area with the amount of sunlight you estimate it will receive.

Vegetable Gardening for Toddlers

gardening-activities-for-toddlers

If you decide you want to grow veggies with your toddlers, there are so many fabulous options! I recommend doing what you can to grow their favorite veggie.

My oldest’s favorite veggie is cucumbers. I plant those in a big pot and set it next to our chain link fence so the vines have something to grab. You can also get a trellis for your planter if you don’t have a fence.

My youngest LOVES tomatoes. They are also a great choice for container gardening.

We have also successfully grown peppers, carrots, green beans, lettuce, & kale.

Growing Berries with Toddlers

Berries are a fabulous choice to grow with toddlers and older kids alike. Strawberries are the easiest and quickest to grow, but blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are all wonderful options. Some berries can take a couple of years to start producing fruit, so keep that in mind and make sure to research your choices.

However, if you eventually want some fresh, homegrown berries, you have to start sometime!

You may also be able to find mature plants for purchase at a higher price point.

Butterfly, Hummingbird & Bee Gardens

butterfly-gardening-with-toddlers

Outside of growing food, wildflower gardens can be very rewarding and low-maintenance if you’re not hung up on weeds. You can really just throw the seeds down wherever you have space and enough sun and not worry a lot about them!

This Monarch Rescue Mix is a quality seed pack from a small, family-owned company that contains a mix of perennials and annuals that provide a great food source for Monarchs. It contains several varieties of plants including Milkweed, Zinnia, Mexican Sunflower, Purple Coneflower, and many more.

There is also this Burpee Wildflower Mix of annuals that are tailored toward butterflies and hummingbirds. Many of these varieties will also be a food source for bees, which maybe you weren’t too excited about involving your toddler in, but given how troubled the bee population is, it is a great way to help do what you can to support them and teach your children good earthly stewardship.

Planting Is the Easy Part!

After planting comes care and maintenance. Make sure you involve your young kids in that! Watering is a great activity for kids to take part in.

If you are interested in some other creative gardening activities, you could have your child:

  • Paint rocks for decoration in the garden
  • Create plant labels with popscicle sticks to stick in the garden
  • Press flowers and leaves from the garden for crafts
  • Make a fairy garden with your child (make sure you consider the age and size of the pieces)
  • Show your child how you can grow food from kitchen scraps

How are you going to involve your kids in planting and gardening this spring/summer? I’d love to know–drop your thoughts in the comments!

gardening-activities-for-toddlers
gardening-activities-for-toddlers-and-preschoolers

Holly Lee

I'm Holly and I'm the mom of two awesome young boys. We have been cloth diapering for 5 years. My family and I live in Minnesota with our dog, Ruby, and cat, Gherkin. Outside of Rocking the Cloth, I am also a middle school teacher. Thank you for visiting Rocking the Cloth--feel free to email me at holly@rockingthecloth.com if you have any questions or concerns. I'd love to help!

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4 Comments

  1. Marios Tofarides says:

    Hey Holy,

    Thanks for this great post! I like that you don’t need to really have a garden (especially if you live in an apartment) to get started with these activities. I also like that there are special gardening sets for kids and toddlers. I didn’t know that!

    What is the best age to start this activity for a toddler? 

    Thanks!

    Marios 

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Hi Marios! I would say probably age 2. I’m sure it varies. My oldest started to become very interested between ages 3 and 4, but definitely enjoyed dirt digging long before that!

  2. Mara says:

    What a great article with some really constructive suggestions and ideas for enjoying the garden with young ones. I was lucky enough to grow up on a farm in New Zealand, and my parents always had a vegetable garden, as well as a berry patch. The berries had to be covered with a netting to stop the birds stealing all the fruit! I also think it’s important for children to know where food comes from, AND the effort that goes into producing it. So many youngsters nowadays have no idea, and think food magically appears in the supermarkets. Do you have any suggestions for how to get teenagers to take an interest in cooking the food? Our daughter was much more interested when she was younger – lol! Sometimes I wish they wouldn’t grow up so fast.

    1. Holly Lee says:

      I agree Mara! So important for kids to understand about food! Your childhood farm sounds marvelous.

      I have a couple of suggestions for helping your teen take an interest in food cooking/growing/prep, but my kids are still young so I haven’t been able to try them out. You’ll have to let me know if they work! 🙂

      First would be to just remind your child that it will not be very long until they’re out on their own. Something my mom told me when I was a teen was that cooking wasn’t a choice–it is a necessity, so we might as well learn to enjoy it. That really resonated with me and I still remember it to this day. It is too expensive (not to mention unhealthy) to rely on convenience foods, so it’s imperative that everyone learn how to make at least some of their favorites from scratch.

      Second suggestion would be to start with her favorites! Have her help assist you in the kitchen on nights you make those, and eventually have her take over cooking on those nights. When I was in middle school, both of my parents worked long hours. I learned how to make a handful of easy dinners so that it would be ready by the time my parents got home. It’s definitely doable and reasonable to have teens help out with some of the family meals!

      Third would be to take her to farmer’s markets with you. Nothing gets me more excited about cooking and healthy eating than going to a farmer’s market. So many cool & fun things to look at!

      Hope this helps. 🙂

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