Through school and the media, many children, even pre-schoolers, are already aware of nature and the environment. The garden is an excellent place to reinforce what they have heard and learned, and a great place to encourage their creativity and self-discipline. As a child, how many times did you snap the jaws of a snapdragon or look for funny faces in pansies. There are many plants and activities that provide their own sense of fun and learning.

Whether you are in a city, suburb or rural area, the future of the environment is of concern to all. Instilling love, respect and understanding of how nature works and how if affects us all is especially important for the future of our children and the world at large. It can all begin by having some fun in the garden.

Fun Projects for Kids!

Place the female flower of a cucumber or zucchini (do not detach from plant) well into the small neck of a plastic or glass bottle. It will grow there and expand to the shape of its “house”. You could also make a shallow carving or a fierce face onto the side of a young pumpkin or zucchini and watch the letters or carving distort by the time harvest comes. Be sure not to make the cuts too deep or the fruit could get an infection and then the parent plant will abort it.

Cherry tomatoes are easy to grow and the right size to taste when in the garden. Consider a cherry tomato in a hanging basket or patio tub for the balcony or your deck. Enjoy sharing the fruit as few things taste as good as fresh picked, pop in your mouth cherry tomato!

Children of all ages would love to make their own bower or hideaway fort. Plant tall sunflowers, scarlet runner beans or morning glories in two or three rows in a rectangle 5’ x 7’. The beans will climb up the sunflowers. Tie string from side to side across the top or weave the beans across and you will have a nice cool area for all types of imaginative play.

Beets can be used to make a block print, due to the lasting red dye in their cells. Cut a beet in half and cut out a simple pattern with a sharp knife or potato peeler. Creative prints can be made on paper or cotton. A small cup of water will keep the block from drying out. Be careful not to get the red dye on your clothes, it won’t completely wash out. Potatoes can also be used for this kind of activity, but the block will have to be dipped in paint to get a color. Regular water-soluble paints in primary colors of blue, yellow and red can be very inspirational.

Children by age eight or nine may want to be more involved in what plants are grown in the garden. Making a rainbow with possibly a pot of orange marigolds at the end would be a lot of fun. The rainbow is red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. Try Gaillardia or Alyssum, orange and yellow marigolds or nasturtiums, green leaf lettuce, blue ageratum or cornflowers and violet asters. Planting one group right next to another helps to keep down the weeds.

Younger children may like to have their own personal garden. Write or print their name with flowers in a garden bed. Make is as large as you can. Use dwarf marigolds or Alyssum, which germinates and grows quickly. Eventually, their name will stand out in the garden.

Children can also easily make their own potpourri. Search the garden for the most fragrant flowers, such as lavender, rose and stocks. Take some petals from fully open flowers during the day when there is no moisture on them. Dry on brown paper in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Mix the petals and place them in a pretty bowl or old saucer.

Make your own Grass Heads using recycled materials from around your home. Because they’re such an easy craft idea, your kids will love to take part in the making. They’ll have good fun decorating the face, and designing clothes and adding finishing touches such as spectacles. Once the grass hair grows you can make mohawks, pony-tails or crew-cuts... have fun with it!

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The possibilities are endless!