In the bustling world of early years parenting, finding activities that engage and educate the little ones can sometimes feel like a challenge. But fear not! Engaging in gardening activities with children can be both educational and incredibly fun.  

This month, I thought from my own experience as a father and educator, I would give you innovative ideas that have worked for me as the Skinny Jean Gardener. Today we're diving into the world of toddler-friendly gardening. Let's explore some of the creative activities that will not only get your hands dirty but also grow a lifelong love for nature in the children. The great thing about all of this is that it can be done in your early years setting and at home – regardless of how much outdoor space you have! 

Gardening with children is more than just digging in the dirt, it's an experience that will give long-lasting memories. Engaging with nature at an early age can enhance a child's sensory development, fine motor skills, and understanding of the environment. Begin your gardening adventure by introducing the children to the magic of seeds. Large, easy-to-handle seeds like sunflowers or beans are perfect for tiny hands. Let them feel the texture of the seeds, smell the soil, and marvel at the concept of life growing from a tiny seed. It is like being a magician, watching that seed grow into something you can eat or that is so colourful. That’s real magic.  

I’ve always promoted creating accessible spaces for little green thumbs to grow. Designate a specific area in your garden (or balcony at home) for the children’s gardening escapades. Invest in child-sized tools, tiny rakes, shovels, and watering cans for the setting, making them feel like true gardening champions. A raised garden bed or containers at ground level are excellent options, allowing the children to reach without difficulty. 

  • Transform mundane seed planting into a captivating storytelling session.  
  • Encourage the children’s imagination by creating stories about the seeds they plant. For instance, the sunflower seeds could be magical beans waiting to grow into a towering sunflower castle. This imaginative approach makes gardening exciting and stimulates their creativity and language skills. 
  • Once the seeds have transformed into vibrant plants, involve the children in the joyous act of harvesting. Whether it's plucking cherry tomatoes, pulling up carrots, or snipping fresh herbs, the sense of accomplishment will light up their faces.  
  • Use your harvested produce in simple cooking activities, teaching them the journey from garden to table, and instilling healthy eating habits from a young age. 

Getting arty in the garden! 

  • You can easily combine gardening with arts and crafts to enhance creative expression. 
  • Collect fallen leaves, petals, or small rocks from the garden and let the little ones create beautiful nature-inspired artwork.  
  • Stick leaves onto paper to make collages, paint rocks to resemble ladybugs, or create bookmarks adorned with pressed flowers 
  • These activities not only develop fine motor skills but also deepen their appreciation for the beauty of nature. As we come into colder months this makes a great activity that will still get toddlers’ hands messy.  

Teaching toddlers too about the connection of all living beings teaches empathy and respect for the environment. Set up bird feeders or small water stations in your garden to attract feathered friends. Observe birds together, identifying different species and their unique calls. Plant flowers that attract butterflies, teaching your child about the incredible transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. These interactions with wildlife encourage a sense of wonder and understanding of nature. 

In the world of gardening, the children are not just planting seeds, they are growing curiosity, getting creative, and caring for nature around us. By bringing together the imaginative and engaging techniques of what we have spoken about this month, you can transform your garden into an enchanting classroom for your little ones.  

So, grab those tiny gardening tools, don your imaginary gardening capes, and embark on this enriching journey of discovery with the children. Above all, have fun!  

Special offer! 

"How to Get Kids Gardening book" – containing so many ideas myself and my daughter created together, for just £10 (RRP£12.99). We grow plants, care for wildlife and most importantly have fun. Get your copy today for incredible ideas created by household items, upcycling and recycling your gardening adventure. skinnyjeangardener.co.uk/shop/how-to-get-kids-gardening-book   

About the author:

Meet Lee, the gardening guru featured on CBBC Blue Peter, BBC Radio 1, and more! Children's author, podcast host, and UK's #1 Children's Gardening Educator. 🌱🎙️

    About the author:

    Meet Lee, the gardening guru featured on CBBC Blue Peter, BBC Radio 1, and more! Children's author, podcast host, and UK's #1 Children's Gardening Educator. 🌱🎙️

      About the author:

      Meet Lee, the gardening guru featured on CBBC Blue Peter, BBC Radio 1, and more! Children's author, podcast host, and UK's #1 Children's Gardening Educator. 🌱🎙️

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