Planting Seeds and Pulling Weeds: Gardening with Kids

Research shows that over summer break thoughts of swimming and lemonade push out recently learned reading and math skills. Combat summer learning loss with gardening, not flash cards! Gardening is fun, educational, good exercise, and a great way to connect with your child.

Spring is here and it's time to start planning your garden. If you don't have a yard, get creative and plant your seeds in a window box like the little girl in Flower Garden by Eve Bunting. You can also use a large pot or go green and reuse a cardboard box or a basket.

Spend some time with your child as scientists observing your garden this spring and summer. Things to notice:

  • Worms, lady bugs, and other beneficial or harmful insects
  • Birds and wildlife
  • The life cycle of plants
  • The taste and smell of fruits and veggies

Build in writing activities by keeping a garden observation notebook like Zinnia in Zinnia’s Flower Garden. If your child isn’t writing yet, encourage him or her to draw the plants in your garden. As the season winds down, make a plan for next summer. You can even make a map of the garden and fill it in together, planning what goes where.

Once you’ve harvested your delicious fruits and veggies, cook a meal together. Have your child read the recipe from a cookbook and measure the ingredients.

If all this gardening seems like too much, place a lima bean and a wet paper towel in a plastic bag. Seal it, tape it to a window, and watch it grow.

Are you new to gardening or just need some creative ideas like growing a floral tepee? Then read nonfiction gardening books together like Ready Set Grow! or Roots Shoots Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children. For your toddler or preschooler try Watch Me Plant a Garden by Jack Otten.

Come to the library for other great garden stories like The Curious Garden by Peter Brown and Planting a Rainbow or Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert.

Written by Rachel on March 13, 2012


Sharon Lovejoy on March 18, 2012


Thanks for mentioning my book Roots Shoots Buckets & Boots. What an honor! I have received hundreds of letters from folks all over the world who have done these projects with great success.

Please take a look at Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars, my latest book. It features simple container gardens AND simple recipes so kids can cook or prepare what they grow.

Keep up the great writing.

All joys,

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

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