Gardening with Your Kids: An Educational Summer Experience
Gardening with my kids is one of my favorite summertime activities, and one of the best educational summer experiences I can give them. Each summer, we grow our own food, learn about plant cycles, soil health, and more. From the time that they're toddlers, gardening is part of their lives.
Are you wondering how gardening can be educational? You'll be surprised! Kids learn so much by digging into the dirt and being involved with the food chain.
Learning about Plant Cycles
It starts with planting the seeds. My kids love to plant peas, green beans, corn, zucchini, and more from seeds. They learn how it all starts by watering the seeds and, with a bit of sunlight, those seeds sprout out of the ground, turning into large plants.
Sure, kids can learn about plant cycles from a book, but nothing compares to learning firsthand. Over the growing season, your child will see the plants come to full bloom and slowly die back as the temperatures turn colder.
Earthworms are vital to the health of our soil, and our gardens would look drastically different without earthworms. They're the key to our soil health.
Kids never pass up an opportunity to get dirty and play with earthworms. Dig up some worms and examine them. Use a book to learn about the anatomy of an earthworm and the vital role that they play in our soil and food cycle.
How to Keep Plants Healthy
One of the main tasks involved with gardening is learning how to keep plants healthy. My kids have to learn how to weed the beds, add compost, fertilize the plants, harvest the bounty, and more. They learn with their hands what plants are weeds and which are not. Kids learn best through hands-on activities.
For the older kids, you can teach them about the main nutrients needed for healthy plants - nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Grab a few soil test kits, and show your children how to test the soil to determine the nutrients it's lacking.
Understanding the Food Cycle
Gardening teaches your child about the food cycle. Kids should learn that our food doesn't just magically appear in the grocery store. It takes time and effort to grow food, and that should be respected.
Through gardening, kids can see the entire food cycle up close. For our family, it starts with the compost bin where we put our fruit and veggie scraps. Those scraps turn into nutrient-dense compost that we use to fill our garden beds.
In those garden beds, we plant a multitude of vegetables, herbs, and fruit. The kids learn to tend those plants and harvest the bounty that comes from them. Then, they cook and eat from those plants and toss the scraps back into the compost. It's a cycle that the kids learn to understand and appreciate.
Cook the Food
Cooking is a vital skill that everyone should learn, and kids love to cook what they grew. Use gardening as a way to teach your kids more cooking skills. Make it a goal to learn one new recipe a week with your kids that use the veggies you're growing in your garden.