Summer break is the perfect time to get outside and into the garden with your kids. And gardening actually has a lot of benefits for your child, too—from getting some physical activity and fresh air to learning about nature and healthy eating. So get out in the yard and try some of these simple and fun gardening activities for kids.
Most of these kid-friendly gardening activities require little planning and mainly recycled or easy-to-find materials. Each activity offers plenty of opportunities to talk to your child about concepts like:
- The life cycle of a plant.
- Photosynthesis and what plants need to grow.
- Caring for the environment.
- Ecosystems and habitats.
- Healthy eating.
Here are some of our favorite gardening activities for kids that we hope you’ll love.
1. Plant Easy-to-Grow Fruits and Vegetables
Some plants are easier to care for than others. When you’re gardening with your kids, it’s a good idea to find options that are easy to grow so they don’t get frustrated or lose interest. Planting fruits and vegetables may even encourage your child to try some healthy new foods since they worked so hard to grow them.
Here are a few options to consider:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Bell peppers
2. Build a Miniature Habitat
Teach your child about ecosystems and habitats by building a miniature habitat. Use natural items from your yard, like dirt, rocks, sticks, pine cones, small native plants, and leaves and place them in a large, shallow container. You can even make it a scavenger hunt for some added fun. Finally, include a small cup or bowl of water in your habitat as well.
Your child can check back on their miniature habitat every day to see if any insects or animals have decided to make it their home. This activity is a great way to introduce your child to the concept of caring for animals and the environment.
3. Egg Carton Herb Garden
Empty egg cartons are perfect for beginning an herb garden. They’re just the right size for starting a small plant and they make it easy to keep several herbs together in one place.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Egg carton
- Potting soil
- Herb seeds
First, cut off the lid of your egg carton and poke small holes into the bottom of each cup for drainage. Next, fill each cup with top soil and a few seeds and water them well. (You can check your seed packet for more specific instructions.)
If it’s still cold outside, you can keep your carton on a tray next to a window where it will stay warm and get plenty of sunlight. Water regularly and watch for sprouts. Once your herbs have grown a little and it’s warm enough, you can transfer them to your yard.
4. Pollinator Garden
Pollinators, like bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, are an important part of our ecosystem. These animals move pollen from one plant to the next to help them produce seeds, fruits, and more plants. But populations of many of these animals are declining, partly due to a loss of habitat.
To plant a pollinator garden, you’ll want to follow a few basic steps:
1. Choose native plants. These will not only be easier to care for, but they will be beneficial to the insects and animals native to your area.
2. Include a variety of plants. You want pollinators to be able to find pollen and nectar throughout the entire season, so it’s good to have plants that flower at different times.
Depending on where you live, some of the best plants for pollinators include:
- Herbs including: oregano, basil, chives, cilantro, and mint
3. Plant in groups. Rather than placing individual plants throughout your yard, group plants together.
4. Avoid using pesticides. These can be harmful to pollinators in your garden.
5. Recycled Planters
Teach your child about recycling by reusing old containers to pot plants or plant seeds. Save your empty yogurt cups, egg cartons, milk jugs, and plastic water bottles to be used in the garden. Jars, disposable cups, cans, plastic tubs, and food containers are all great options, too. You can even use broken pots or containers—just watch out for any sharp edges!
6. Collect Rainwater for Plants
Collecting rainwater to be used for watering plants is a great way to save water and help prevent run-off. If you are really serious, you can connect a rain barrel to your downspout—this will collect the water from your roof to be used for gardening.
But if you’re looking for a simple way to teach this concept to your children, all you’ll need is some empty containers to collect rainwater in. Empty 2-liter bottles or plastic milk gallons work well. Here’s how to do it:
- Cut off the top of your bottle, and flip it over to use as a funnel for your rain catcher.
- Add rocks or sand to the bottom of your container to keep it weighed down.
- Set the container outside and wait for it to fill up with rainwater.
- Once you have collected enough rainwater, your child can use it to help water the plants in the garden.
7. Self-Watering Soda Bottle Planter
Try making a self-watering planter from a recycled bottle, like this one from The EcoCrafter. Grown-ups will have to do a little bit of prep for this activity by drilling a small hole into a bottle cap. The idea of this activity is that a string will carry water up from the bottom of the bottle into the soil to keep your plant watered.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1- or 2-liter soda bottle
- String or a long piece of fabric
- Potting soil
First, you (or your child if they’re old enough) will cut the soda bottle in half. Next, tie the end of the string or fabric and thread it through the hole in the bottle cap. Fill the bottom half of the bottle with water and set the top of the bottle upside down with the string reaching into the water.
Add your potting soil and plant and set in a warm, sunny spot. You’ll want to water your plant thoroughly when it’s first planted, then just replace the water on the bottom when it runs low.
8. Regrow Fruits and Vegetables from Scraps
Did you know that some fruit and vegetable scraps will regrow? Avocado pits, potatoes, and cabbage are all options to consider. This is a great way to introduce the idea of reducing food waste to your child.
To do it, you’ll place the ends of your fruit or vegetable scraps into a small cup or bowl of water. You may need toothpicks to hold the scraps up so they aren’t fully submerged. Then, set it on a windowsill and have your child change the water daily. You should see some sprouting by 1 week.
“Hi! My name is Lydia and I’m a freelance writer who specializes in parenting and education. I have a bachelor’s degree in English and worked as a teacher and tutor before deciding to stay home full-time with my two young children. As a mom, I’m passionate about early childhood education and am always looking for fun and practical ways to teach my kids at home.”