This content was provided by Kinderling, a Playgroup NSW partner.
Gardening is such a great nature play activity for your toddlers whether you’ve got a huge backyard with plenty of plant space, or you’ve working with a tiny balcony and a couple pot plants.
Gardening can give lesson on food, nature and the circle of life, with play, curiosity and imagination. Plus, most children love it!
Here are 10 simple tips for gardening with toddlers
1. Plant speedy vegetables
Have a go at speedy veggies that your toddler will enjoy raising and eating. Pots of salad leaves, bushy cherry tomatoes,established strawberry pots, mild and fast-growing radishes, baby carrots, peas, beans and herbs could all be grown in tubs or garden beds and your little one will not only love watching them growing, but may even be happy to pick, wash and eat them!
Give your toddlers a watering can and point out the thirstiest plants, then let them take care of the important job of watering the garden. Repeated trips to refill the watering can are a must!
3. Create a fairy garden
Create the gardening fun for your toddlers by making their own tiny and magical garden with things salvaged from the backyard. Keep an eye out for fairy garden friendly props (say mini figurines and plastic toys) at your local op shop too.
4. Make a trip to a farm
If your own backyard is small or non-existent, do not let this stop you and your toddler from the gardening fun. Head to your nearest veggie farm or have a road trip to a more rural area and seek out roadside veggie stands to start conversations about growing, eating and the natural world.
5. Grow grass heads
Do you remember growing grass heads or sprout heads when you were a child? This is a lovely activity to tackle with your toddlers. They’ll have a lot of fun adding character to their critters (and giving them funny haircuts!) This activity is also perfect for apartment dwellers who don’t have access to backyards or balcony gardens.
6. Attract insects to your garden
Your local nursery is a wealth of information about what to grow where, and your child will adore tearing up and down its leafy aisles. Talk to nursery staff about fauna attracting plants and go on a bee hunt with your child, noticing which plants are the most bee friendly and pondering how important these tiny creatures are to our ecosystem.
7. Study the outdoors
Grab some pencils and paper and head outdoors for a nature study together. Notice the shapes and colours of plants. Draw your favourite flowers together. Take notes on the birds you might see. Talk about the weather. Granted some of these toddler notes might be a bit abstract, but you try describing the fragrance of a nasturtium leaf! Create a journal for your nature notes and continue to add to them when you’re both in the mood.
8. Dine al fresco
What better way to appreciate the garden than to have dinner in the garden or enjoy a backyard picnic lunch? You can take this next-level by eating things you’ve grown in the garden or eating those you’d like to grow and discuss where you might plant your own delicious veggies.
9. Give them a personal plant patch
A personal garden bed is a perfect way to foster your toddler’s love for gardening. Help them prepare their bed nicely and choose plants to grow. Have a daily watering ritual to ensure best results. You could even make plant markers together, to cutely label what is growing where.
10. Start composting
…if you don’t have one already. Your local council can often help with this. You can then use the compost to grow disgustingly good stuff to dig in your garden. This is a great way to help kids understand the importance of reducing waste, recycling and nurturing wriggling worm pals, too!
To keep your child safe in the garden, remember to supervise them at all times and be aware of any hazards or escape routes.
• Keep chemicals stowed away.
• Wash hands after gardening.
• Avoid using potting mix unless using gloves and mask.
• Make sure kids are carefully supervised around buckets of water, ponds or pools.
• Wear sunscreen, sun protection clothing and hats.
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