Gardening holds several benefits for children. To start with, it makes them care for nature. When children are encouraged to take to gardening early in their lives, chances are they will develop an affinity for nature from a tender age, which can turn them into crusaders for environmental conservation as they grow up.
Besides providing a great opportunity to get them outdoors, involving preschoolers in gardening is also one of the best ways to expose them to the wonders of nature and let them experience their natural surroundings first-hand. By involving in gardening activities regularly, children can learn about flowers, fruits, the nutritional value of different kinds of food, and so on. You can also make use of this opportunity to introduce your preschooler to the basic concepts in science and environment, which they will study later in their school, in the next few years.
Here’s a list of six easy-to-do and interesting activities for you and your child that integrate basic gardening skills with some fun-filled art work.
1. A kitchen garden
With this activity, you can help your child learn the importance of eating nutritious food. Select herbs like coriander and fenugreek or pulses like moong beans and Bengal grams, which are of high nutritional value. Make sure that the herbs you select do not take too long to grow as children may grow tired of waiting for them to grow and can lose interest in the activity. Common kitchen herbs such as coriander and fenugreek take about two or three days to a week to sprout. Take old plastic boxes to make the containers and make your child plant the seeds. Let your child monitor the growth of the plants every day.
When the herbs grow, you can use them to make your child’s favourite dishes and involve her in the process of cooking too.
2. A colourful flower garden
Who doesn’t love flowers? Children, especially, are sure to have a great time growing flowers and then watching them bloom into colourful bunches. Choose flowers of different hues that will not take too long to grow. You can bring saplings of bougainvillea of different colours, and sit with your child to plant them in medium-sized pots. To make the whole project more artistic, pick up your acrylic colour set and involve your child in first painting the pots with any colour of his choice and then fill up with polka dots of a contrasting colour. Your gardening project can’t get more colourful than this. Make your child water the plants every day and watch the joy on his face as the flowers bloom.
3. A fruits and veggies garden
Growing a ‘fruits and vegetable’ garden can be a good way to encourage healthy eating habits in your child. Choose fruits and vegetable that are easy to grow in limited spaces. Tomatoes, brinjals, carrots and melons are a few popular choices for a home-grown garden. In the days you track the growth of the plants, you can teach your child about the process of growth of a plant in stages. You can also lightly touch upon concepts like photosynthesis and germination, though your child may be too young to understand the details.
Make attractive labels with colourful paper stuck on toothpicks and attach them to mark the different parts of plants. Alternatively, you can create large-size cut-outs of the vegetable and fruits in colour paper and foam paper and use them as labels for the pots.
4. A hanging garden for home decor
With this activity, you can involve your child in making beautiful and natural decorations for the home. Visit the nearby nursery with your child to get a few indoor plants. This is also a great opportunity for you to show her the different plants that are nurtured in a nursery and both of you can have a gala time choosing your plants. Talk to the nursery expert to learn about different ways to care for indoor plants. You can buy as many as you require to fill every room of your house.
At home, make use of wooden, cardboard or plastic boxes to make the containers for the plants. Fill them with mud and place in them your plants. Attach thick ropes to the containers to create the hangers. Make several such hanging containers with different varieties of indoor plants and hang them in different parts of your house.
5. A rooftop garden
Rooftop gardening is a popular trend these days among gardening enthusiasts. This can be an elaborate project if you live in an independent house. You can cover up the entire terrace space with plants of different varieties, which can include fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs and creepers. You and your child can spend days together tending to these plants and monitoring their growth. However, if you live in a shared apartment, you may have to consult your neighbours about using the common space.
While you may or may not have the luxury of large spaces for gardening if you live in an urban apartment, with these activities, you can ensure that your child is not deprived of the pure joy that gardening brings. Before you set out though, don't forget to buy a set of child-friendly gardening tools.
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