Category Archives: Kids and Nature

5 Tips for Gardening with Kids

Gardening and homesteading is a lot of work.  Sometimes, it’s a lot of hard work.  However, it’s also a great opportunity to get the whole family together for some bonding.  When you plant your garden together, you have a great opportunity to teach children about where their food comes from, and they’ll be much more interested in the whole process when they are involved in some way.  Unfortunately, there aren’t many kids that love hard work, so as parents we need to get creative to get them involved in these projects.  Over the last few years of gardening with my daughter, I’ve come up with a few handy tips to make gardening with kids more fun.  Read on to see if you can incorporate some of these tips into your gardening chores.

1) Let them get dirty.

Getting dirty in her first garden.

Getting dirty in her first garden.

When you go out to garden, do you wear cute clothes and worry about your nails? Probably not.  So don’t expect it of your kids, either.  Accept the fact that dirt is very appealing to kids, and they will  put their hands in it, and most likely rub their hands on their shirts at some point, too.  Letting loose and allowing your kids to get dirty and feel the soil allows them to truly get into the gardening experience.

2) Let them help.

She lives for watering the plants.

She lives for watering the plants.

Kids just want to feel useful, especially as they get to be “big kids.”  If you don’t trust them to actually handle the plants (which I wouldn’t blame you), let them dig holes, add fertilizer (only if they are old enough to not eat it), water the plants, or pat down the dirt.

3) Expect them to get distracted.

What girl can resist smelling flowers?

What girl can resist smelling flowers?

I can’t tell you how many times Pistache has wandered off and gotten distracted during a long gardening session.  Whether she’s smelling the flowers, chasing butterflies, or digging up earth worms, there’s always something that captures her interest while we’re all hard at work.  That’s what kids do! Appreciate the fact that they are still out in nature and let them enjoy their distraction for awhile while you get some of the harder work done.  Sometimes, it really is nice to get them out of your hair for a few minutes while you do some more tedious chores.

4) Let them taste the fruits of their labor.

A special treat, straight from the garden!

A special treat, straight from the garden!

From our first strawberry plants, I think I got one strawberry.  Pistache just loved them so much! She had helped us grow them, and she watched every day for  new red berries to pick and eat.  It got her excited in the process.  It made her want to help out more.  As long as you aren’t spraying pesticides onto your plants, let your kids taste things straight from the garden! The little bit of dirt won’t hurt them, and they’ll thoroughly enjoy picking food straight from the plants and tasting it at its freshest.

5) Remember to smile.

Just keep smiling.

Just keep smiling.

Smile, and remember to keep smiling. Smile when they get distracted.  Smile when they eat all the strawberries. Smile when they accidentally pull up a carrot while helping you weed the garden. Smile when they are covered head to toe in dirt.  Just smile.  Because you are outside enjoying nature.  Because you are teaching your child to love a valuable chore.  Because maybe one day this generation may be a generation of gardeners and homesteaders, all because you made it fun.

Gardening with kids can certainly pose a challenge, but it is also a great bonding experience for the whole family.  I like to think that the last three years of gardening with Pistache has taught her to love being outside in nature.  Unlike many kids her age, she knows where her food comes from, and what each vegetable looks like.  She gets excited when we go outside and runs to grab her own gardening gloves, shovel, and ho so that she can help.  Sure, she gets distracted sometimes, and she doesn’t keep her mess as contained as I’d like, but she gets better every year!  I hope these five tips can help you have a satisfying and rewarding gardening experience with your kids this year, too.

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Painting Seashells – Nature Crafts with Kids

Sorry for the radio silence this last week.  It started out with a fabulous family beach vacation, and ended with us on pins and needles hoping for some good news for our family.  We’re not quite ready to share anything, but hopefully in the next few weeks we’ll have an exciting announcement!

In the meantime, we thoroughly enjoyed our beach vacation, despite the weather forecast.  Tip of the day, just because the weatherman says there’s a 60% chance of thunderstorms all weekend, doesn’t mean you won’t have beautiful weather!  We spent the entire weekend on the beach building sand castles (well, I built them, Pistache just played Godzilla and crushed them all), and collecting seashells to learn about nature. We discussed how hermit crabs and muscles lived in these shells and the ones we collected were no longer useful to the sea creatures.  Pistache loves learning about nature and exploring new things, so we even take the time to discuss these things in the back yard and at the park.

love collecting seashells with kids.  It brings back the memories of me doing that as a kid, and it’s a tradition I’ve passed on to Pistache.  We walk the beach and collect seashells in a bucket while talking about the creatures that live in the sea, and then they are the perfect afternoon craft while the sun is at it’s strongest.

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Painted seashells are a great busy craft for toddlers!

Pistache loved painting seashells, and this kept her busy for quite awhile our last day at the beach and even after we got back from the beach-she collected a lot of shells.

Once she was bored with painting shells, we let them all dry and then collected all of the shells with little holes to make a decoration for her room.  We used fishing wire, a darning needle (to make it easier to control the fishing wire with her little hands), and all of the seashells with holes and began lacing them together.

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Pistache got a chance to practice lacing with her shells. And yes, she’s crafting in a Princess dress!

Nature can provide hours of entertainment for young kids, and crafts like these have really opened Pistache’s eyes to the world around her.  So next time you’re at the beach, try collecting seashells and talking to your toddler about their purpose and then plan a craft!

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Filed under Crafting with Kids, Kids and Nature