Gardening with Children

Gardening with Children

May 26, 2017
by Kellen Watson, Daily Acts

Garden Tot
Summer is nearly here, bringing with it an invitation to spend lazy days drinking in the beautiful colors, buzzing sounds and many delicious treats the garden has to offer. This is a time to partake in some of the bounty, from a shady spot on a blanket, where the most difficult task is naming what the passing cloud is shaped like. Of course, if you are a gardener with energetic kiddos running about, it may be hard to find these tranquil moments for observation amongst the potential bee stings, eating of green strawberries and trampling of seedlings. Do not despair, there are plenty of enticing garden activities to keep even the littlest hands engaged, happy and even productive.

Grow a Sunflower House!
Nothing provides more wonder and possibility than watching a seedling grow right up out of the dirt. So what if you grew a whole secret room in your garden with sunflowers for walls and nasturtium for a ceiling? Your kids would not only experience the joy of growing and caring for the plants but would have the perfect spot for observing pollinators, sampling edible nasturtium flowers and spending hours on make believe. With a large seed size for easy handling and a consistent germination rate, sunflowers are a great first plant for kids. The diversity of flower colors, heights, and edible qualities also make these a hit, as long as you can get to them before the birds. For directions on how to grow your own Sunflower House and other creative projects to engage children with nature, check out Sharon Lovejoy’s beautiful book ‘Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots’.

Start a worm bin!
It never seems to matter how slimy or dirty they are, worms are a huge hit with kids! If you would rather not have a bunch of holes around your garden from where your kids were digging for worms, why not direct that energy towards starting a vermicompost bin? Consider it akin to your kid’s first pet – all 200 of them, but it can also be a great way to instill responsibility at a young age, after all, someone needs to feed the worms (approved) food scraps, make sure there bedding isn’t too wet and check for eggs. There are super simple instructions and how-to videos online, but the last word on worm bins is Mary Arlene Appelho’s ‘Worms Eat My Garbage’, an excellent read with great pictures for kids too.

Make edible arrangements!
Small hands can still be handy in the garden if given the right task. This is especially true of harvest time, especially with fruits and vegetables that are low to the ground like strawberries, bush beans, or mint in need of mild grazing. Planting edible flowers like calendula, violets, borage, society garlic and squash can also create a whole new appreciation for plants – there not just pretty or for making fruits. Turn it into a scavenger hunt or ask your kids to make an edible arrangement, gathering plants from the garden to use as decoration, to flavor water, to candy or freeze into ice cubes. The multiple uses and flavors will provide fascination for as long as they are in bloom!

Daily Acts will be hosting one program at each of our Sonoma County Library branches this summer starting on June 17th. We’ll be getting our hands dirty constructing bird feeders, making seed balls, designing gardens and planting seeds. We hope you can join in the fun! For more details and a schedule please visit our website

Kellen Watson is the Senior Programs Coordinator with Daily Acts in Petaluma. She holds a BA in Environmental Studies and has since focused on integrating biological research, watershed restoration, and environmental education. Her diverse experiences have fostered a passion for inspiring love of nature and action to sustain it in our local communities. Email Kellen at

Share with your friends!