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3 min read

Gardening with your child has SO many benefits. You may have heard me talk about this before in this simple gardening activity I shared in the spring - Germinating Bean Seeds.

But I'll say it again because gardening is rich with fun, hands-on learning opportunities.

It helps to develop:
  • Language, fine and gross motor skills, social skills, and independence
  • Responsibility
  • Mindfulness in caring for plants and determining what they need
  • An interest in nature and care of the outdoor environment
  • The senses - all 5 depending on what you grow!

And you can even get started in infancy!

Exploratory Gardening for Infants

Infants can be introduced to gardening by giving them time to dig around in the soil with their hands and explore.

They will likely try to pull on flowers and mouth the soil so do this in an area where you’re comfortable with this type of exploration and with soil free from fertilizers.

You can also add a little water to a child-sized watering can for them to dump and explore.

Gardening With Toddlers and Older Children

Toddler gardening activities, Montessori gardening activities

Most children will love the responsibility of their own plant. It's a great learning opportunity about how to care for another living thing.

      1. Pick out plants - Go to the nursery together and let your child choose their own plants or flowers. It can be helpful to guide them based on the sun exposure around your home. You can also buy child-sized gardening tools, like these: Garden Tools - Care of the Outdoor Environment - The Montessori Room

        Here are some recommendations for hearty plants that can withstand regular, generous watering :)

        -> Sunflowers - these are fantastic once they’re fully grown and really easy to grow if you have sun. Once the seeds are ready for harvest, you can dry out the flowers and use tweezers to pluck the sunflower seeds out to roast them and eat them!
        -> Marigolds
        -> Nasturtium
        -> Geranium
        -> Purple Cone Flowers
        -> Ornamental Grass

        You could also plant a herb garden and then plan a recipe with your child to cook with them.

      2. Plant the flower with your child. Remember to follow their pace and don’t rush it.

      3. Write the name of the plants/flowers on a popsicle sticks with permanent marker so the rain doesn't wash it away. This is great for language development.

      4. Demonstrate how to check the soil to gauge if the garden needs water. Your child may not be able to do this simply with their eyes so get down to the ground to show them how to feel the soil.

      5. Watering the plants - Involve your child every step of the way. An older toddler may be able to manoeuvre the hose independently. You can give them a chance to try and show them how to fill up their own watering can.

        Invite your child to carry the watering can from the faucet to the area to be watered. While this is a chore for most adults, children love maximum effort, full body work. And even if your child only puts little bit of water in can, this makes for more repetition, which is great too!

        If your child overfills watering can, they’ll problem-solve to figure out how to get the full can to the garden. When you slow down, there's so many opportunities for learning!

      6. Talk about the plant. You can also talk about why the plants/flowers are thriving or dying. For instance, if there's not a lot of rain and too much sun, the plants need more water.

Bonus Activities - if your child shows an interest in gardening

  • Read books about gardening. I love:
    • Growing Vegetable Soup - it includes a vegetable soup recipe at the end.
    • Miguel's Community Garden by JaNay Brown-Wood
    • Plant the Tiny Seed by Christie Matheson
    • The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
    • From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons
    • Lola Plants a Garden by Anna McQuinn
    • We Are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines

  • Walk around the neighbourhood and look at other peoples gardens or visit a local garden. For instance, in Toronto we have Allan Gardens or Toronto Botanical Garden.

  • Make a simple DIY mud kitchen/sensory bin outside with grass, flower, leaf clippings, and dirt. This is a great sensory activity that can be done on a day warm enough to hose off outside.

  • Weed your garden together.

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