Kid-friendly Gardening: Indoor and Outdoor Garden Ideas

April 18, 2016
A young boy and girl watching their mom plant in a garden outside.

Why not start a garden with your kiddos this spring? It’s a fun family activity and your little ones will get to play in the dirt…on purpose!

Garden Benefits

  • Family fun!
  • Sensory activity for little ones who may need calming activities because of autism or sensory processing disorder.
  • Teaching and learning tool: patience, observation, cycle of life, environmental awareness, nurturing and caring—growing food is a life skill not often taught in schools.
  • Outdoor kid-friendly activity and family fitness.

Crops for Kids

Many items are hard to grow or need very specific and intensive growing environments. Here’s a list of items that are easy to grow, show results fairly quickly and are also fun to harvest.

  • Herbs—plant some you already use like basil, chives, thyme, rosemary, sage and lavender. You can plant these indoors, in boxes, and in containers as well. Planting herbs naturally leads to a family together time preparing meals in the kitchen too!
  • Sunflowers—the confectionary version will produce late summer seeds you can roast and eat. They grow fast and tall, and produce a huge flower—the perfect plant in your little one’s eye.
  • Nasturtiums—edible flowers which are both pretty and pest resistant. Your kids will love throwing some on top of a salad and actually eating flowers!
  • Marigolds—bright and eye-catching flowers which attract butterflies and hummingbirds whilst repelling bunnies and deer.
  • Strawberries—most children already love these berries. Birds, squirrels and raccoons also love them, so netting is important.
  • Cherry tomatoes—watch their eyes light up as the kid-sized tomato plants grow and then produce so much scrumptious, juicy fruit. These can also be planted in containers and boxes.
  • Lettuce—this ultra-reliable crop is quick and easy to grow and will also get your tiny tots interested in healthy eating—open their eyes to the world of salads.
  • Radishes—short, easy growing season. Radishes take less than a month from start to harvest.
  • Bush beans—they grow so fast—like Jack’s beanstalk fast. So much fun to harvest and they just keep going. Get the low bush varieties which don’t need a trellis, poles or stakes and are still little kid-reachable. Seeds go directly into the soil which makes them fun to plant.
  • Snow peas—plant in shady places. The whole pea pod is edible, so little hands can pick and eat them right off the vine.
  • Carrots—These seeds also go directly into the soil but are a little slower to germinate. Fun to pull-up out of the ground and even more fun to eat.
  • Potatoes—full-proof root vegetables are great crops to plant for kid-friendly results. Growing potatoes is a real eye-opener for young ones who may not know just how many ways to prepare and eat this mainstay.
  • Pumpkins—it takes a while to grow (80-120 days), but the family fun far outweighs the wait time. Plus, starting kid-friendly activity in the spring and reaping the rewards in the late fall means half a year or more of gardening and growing together.

Kid-friendly Ideas for the Garden

  • Give kids their space and their own tools; not cheap play tools, but actual gardening equipment and a place to plant the things they want to.
  • Depending on your garden space and the time you want to put into this activity, garden beds could be a plot of land in the backyard, a raised bed, a flower box or a container on the deck. Don’t be limited by space.
  • Engage the kiddos. Gardening is not a sit and watch me do this kind of thing; your kids will learn by doing and there are plenty of doing activities involved in gardening.
  • Be proud and let them know it. Show off their work to visitors and the neighbors. Do garden tours and let your little ones talk about what they are planting and why. When eating something from the garden, congratulate the kiddos on their bounty and the flavor. Yum!
  • Add craft projects to the garden like painted pots, bird feeders or garden decorations. A fairy garden is also a fun idea.
  • Green up the space by upcycling plastic containers—or an old sandbox—and use them for planting.
  • Green it up some more by researching and implementing a composting plan for your garden.

Get together, be one with nature and have a lot of fun while doing it—start planting your family garden today!