Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Gardening With Kids: Ten Things That Work
1) Mass sowing.
Nothing is worse than coming back to school after a weekend away to see that all the seeds have sprouted in their individual pots except for little Isabelle’s. Don’t be afraid to sow extra seeds in each pot –they can always be thinned later. And just to be safe, plant a few extra pots. You may want to wait to have kids decorate or label them with their names until you know for sure that everyone has a plant to mark.
2) Big seeds.
When planting with a big group of kids, it’s much easier and less time consuming to dole out big seeds. With the tiny ones, they’re easier to drop, and easier to lose. That means sooner or later someone will be saying “He got three seeds and I only got two!” Then everyone with two will want three and you spend half the period handing out seeds. Stick to big seeds and give everyone the same number.
3) Teachers getting dirty.
Not all teachers are experienced or enthusiastic gardeners, but those who get out there and get their hands dirty with the kids send a powerful message: that they’re willing to try something new, experience the ups and downs along with their class, and share in their victories.
Kids who have no interest in growing plants suddenly become totally engaged when worms are involved. A bucket of worms never fails to attract an audience – even if they’re all saying “Eeeewwwwww….”
5) Hand to mouth.
Here’s a link to a project we did last year: starting seeds in old toilet paper rolls.
7) Fast crops.
Just like a watched pot never boils, a watched seed never sprouts. When kids are eagerly waiting to see some green leaves, the quicker they appear, the better. And if you’re gardening in a cold climate like we are, it’s nice to have something that can be harvested before school lets out in late June. Micro-greens and radishes can be harvested in as little as three weeks. Check out Wisconsin Fast Plants for ideas and kits.
From setting up the poles to planting the seeds, to trellising, kids love creating plant “houses” that they can stand in. Pole beans and morning glories are good plants for teepees.
Over the winter we had some teenagers from our high school’s botany class come over and help our 3rd graders plant. Haven’t you heard? Teenagers are cool, and so is anything they do.
10) Sesame Street
Ask Michelle Obama - she did a guest spot on the show to talk about gardening. I saw these yesterday in Lowes - I have to confess I haven’t used them. But if I had a preschooler, it’s a safe bet that I’d be buying some.
What works for you when gardening with kids?