Dirt plus water equals big fun when you're gardening with kids. Roll up your sleeves and put on your gloves to create a children's garden that teaches them about nature, nurturing and nutrition.
For Babies - Planting a Tree for Your Newborn
There are plenty of ways to celebrate your baby's birth. A simple one that your whole family can appreciate for years is by planting a tree.
Trees produce oxygen and they're good for the environment. This is a lesson you can teach your child as he and the tree grow.
Buying a young tree is also very inexpensive. Some nurseries sell them for a couple of dollars or give them away at certain times of the year just to clear out inventory.
Take a lot of pictures when you plant the tree. As your child grows, have him stand next to it so you can snap off more pictures. One day when your little one is all grown up and the tree is towering over your house, you'll have beautiful photos that mark your child's journey from baby to adulthood.
Letting your child know that this is his tree will be a special memory he keeps with him forever. If you haven't started this tradition for your older children, you can still include them by planting a tree to recognize a special occasion like kindergarten graduation, a birthday or a holiday.
You don't have to own a house with a big yard either. If you live in an apartment or don't have the yard space, plant a small tree in a pot instead.
For Preschoolers - Planting a Small Garden for Young Children
Imagine the fun your preschooler will have picking flowers for your kitchen table or eating vegetables straight from his own garden. A small flower and/or vegetable garden helps you teach your children how plants grow and provides hours of outdoor entertainment.
Sneaking in lessons about veggies while you garden will teach your children about proper nutrition without you having to say those dreaded three words: "Eat your vegetables!" Planting vegetables they already like to eat will get them even more excited about watching their garden grow and munching on the results.
Preschoolers crave instant gratification so plant flowers that are on the verge of blooming. Having a colorful garden at the end of the day will make your child happy right now without having to wait weeks for something to magically appear out of the ground.
Don't have a yard? No problem. Create a mobile garden in a bucket so your child can experience the joy of growing flowers and vegetables.
Just make sure you research everything you're planting to make sure nothing is poisonous. Teach your preschooler not to eat anything out of his garden without your permission.
For School-Age Children - Growing a Children's Garden Full of Hidden Lessons
Older children are ready for the challenge of bigger gardens with a variety of flowers, fruits and vegetables. Digging, planting, watering, weeding and watching a garden spring to life will help them develop a green thumb and a new appreciation for the world around them.
Children this age can grow plants that require more attention than a preschooler's smaller garden but you don't want to take on too much. The garden should be a stress-free zone for your children.
You can also get creative and grow some unusual-looking vegetables with various seed packs. Your child will tell all of his friends about the purple carrots and blue potatoes in his garden.
The fun just begins after planting is complete. A gardening journal is a great way to track the garden's progress from bare earth to full crop. Your child can draw a map of what he planted where, create a timeline to chart plant growth and make notes about everything from the weather to insects exploring his garden.
Go online together to help him learn about the types of plants he'll be growing. While you're at the computer, print tags so he can label where he placed everything in his garden. Be sure to include the plant's common name and scientific name to make the identification tags a lesson in disguise.
Decorate your child's growing area with garden crafts you can do together while you're waiting for everything to come alive. A stepping stone is an easy craft for children of all ages that will last through hot summers and cold winters. Kits come with decorative rainbow rocks, glitter, glass gems and paint so your child can make his stone unique.
Making the garden his own personal space will have your child hooked long before the plants spring out of the ground. Enjoying your time with the kids while gardening is something all of you will cherish even more than those sweet-smelling flowers and delicious fruits and vegetables.