If you’ve got a green thumb, you can include your kids in your gardening activities. It’s a fun way to be active as a family while getting some extra help to get your outdoor chores done.
Gardening works on gross motor skills (shovelling, digging, and lifting) and also fine motor skills (planting, scooping, watering, and laying soil). But there are many other ways to make it active as well.
I asked my go-to gardening expert, my Master Gardener mother who also happens to be a retired teacher, for her advice on how to make gardening an active family affair. Here are her best tips.
Make it a game
When kids are young, up to about age 5, the best way to get them involved is to make it fun. Use the garden as a play space for games. Try “I Spy” and have kids run around looking for different objects. Add interesting things to find in the garden, like a pinwheel, a garden gnome, or a birdhouse. Ask them questions like, “Where does the bird live?”, and let them run off and explore.
You can even set up a treasure hunt in the garden. Hide small objects, anything from toy figures to treats, and watch as they run around, lifting rocks and buckets, looking for their treasure.
Let them help
Some kids may want to get dirty rather than play, so let them! Give them a small space of their own to dig dirt with their own shovel and pail. Let them plant their own flower or two, add soil and compost, then have them go fetch a small can of water to sprinkle over it when they’re done. They’ll be so proud of building their own garden patch they’ll barely notice they’re working!
When the work is done, make it a race to see who can clean up their buckets and shovels first.
Give them responsibility
As kids get older, they can take on more responsibility. Have them choose a vegetable they’d like to grow and let them plant and care for it in their own pot. It gives you the added bonus of getting them to try new things to eat, which they may more readily do if they put in their own muscle power to plant, grow, and pick it.
Once kids reach their pre-teen and adolescence years, give them even bigger tasks. Show them how to cut the lawn, weed the garden, move rocks, and, of course, rake and bag leaves in the fall. Don’t forget to jump in the leaves first! It can’t be all work and no play.
Give it a shot and you’ll likely soon have a lighter work load – and more fun – yourself.