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Gardening for children of all ages

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If they grow it, they will eat it.

Many studies have found that children of all ages are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables if they help in the garden.

Gardening provides different forms of engagement for children, including designing, planting, and maintaining gardens; harvesting, preparing, and sharing food; learning about science and nutrition.

With the scorching heat in August and preparing gardens for September, we have surfed the net to find some inspirational ideas for garden crafts to get the children involved at all ages.

These are fun activities for children preparing gardens of any size; from pots on the kitchen windowsill or if space allows for a children's first garden.

• 1-3 years

Children at this age enjoy the material aspects of the garden, soil, sand, water, wood. Plants can be pulled to bits!

The different surfaces are good and necessary experiences at this age. Children at this age want to experience the texture and substance of it. From mud to grass to the texture of leaves and twigs.

• 3-5 years

The same materials as above but with a wider choice such as boxes, cardboard, stones, shells, etc. A pathway made out of stones. A house made of leaves and twigs. From worms to snails, children are introduced to life in the garden at this age.

Children start to get the appreciation of plants. They love feeding or watering plants. They enjoy being shown how to set up a garden, combining natural and man-made materials, like soil, leaves, old branches. Even plastic and pots and cups, provides a very good developmental experience.

This is a good time to begin the simple (one or a few vegetables) garden, planting and nurturing its growth. This provides the basis of ecology and inter-connectiveness of life.

Children adore watering now. Buy children their own sized watering can. Children delight in watching their plants grow and picking and then eating them. Give them quick growing or interesting plants to grow. Tomatoes or beans are great to start with and can be planted all year round.

• 5-7 years

At this age, constructions of a themed garden such as a shell garden, building little fences and plant tags even brightly painted golf ball lady bugs are perfect.Maybe a herb garden — which brings in the sensory aspect where children can smell all the smells. Basil, mint, peppermint, oregano, thyme, rosemary are perfect to start with.

• 7-9 years

This is getting to be a good time for teaching children the seasonal aspect of planting, moon influences, weather, soil, the idea of rotational planting, summer and winter.

They may have a theme such as a shell garden or shoe garden. Old welly boots are great to recycle here or painting an old car tyre and creating their own garden. Children at this age love creating structures that they decorate with nature's materials.

• 9-12 years

At this age the farming concept is strong. Here's where adults can teach the whole cycle of the planting, growing and harvesting of a little plot.

Growing something for the family or class is a good idea. Rows, calculations of plants, spacing, area, height, timing etc. This is the time parents bring in the maths concepts of division, multiplication and addition etc.

The effort involved needs to be easy, simple but productive.

Children take great pride and love to be seen as a little provider of the bowl or salad or dish of green peas on the table.

• Sources: www.npr.org; www.kidsgardening.org; www.childrenandnature.org; www.no-dig-vegetablegarden.com

• For more information and ideas we recommend: Pinterest and youtube.

They're looking at you: Recycling golf balls is both fun and creative. These lady bug golf balls are a great activity to get the children involved in the garden - and they also look awesome
Eye-catching look: Painted recycled tyres are a great addition and can be the perfect size for a child's first garden
Bring the kitchen into the garden by painting plants and vegetables on to utensils
Recycled welly boots make a perfect first garden for children
Personalise your garden with simple yet effective signs
Simply painting some stones and naming the herbs is not only attractive, but very useful for gardeners of all ages
Painted wooden spoons are both decorative and extremely useful for the garden
Home-made wind chimes add a new sensory dimension to any garden. Simply collect some bamboo and string, creative minds takes care of the rest
Home-made tic tac toe is a win-win for any garden

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Published August 20, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated August 20, 2015 at 12:12 am)

Gardening for children of all ages

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