I can hardly find another activity that packs so much education and so much excitement for kids, as… gardening. Astronomy, geography, botany, geology, zoology, math are at our disposal… as well as playing and digging in the mud, watering and actually doing something “real! My kids find it as much fun as cooking, but I got to admit, that I secretly feel more comfortable to keep them away from a hot stove, and gardening lets the house stay much cleaner.
Spring blooms, warm weather, song-bird chirping got us into a planting mood. Usually I stick to my own 5 tips for easy gardening with kids, but this time around I was seduced by my neigbor’s pretty flower beds, into full throttle of planting.
That’s where we got hit by our science wave:
Specific plants live in specific areas. Just as I did in 5 Fun Ways to Learn about Geography, I pulled out a flashlight and a globe to see why certain areas are warmer or colder, and how plants react to that, what climates do we get and what different plants prefer.
We actually did go that far! Whenever we have a flashlight and a globe, like we do in 5 Fun Ways to Learn about Geography, we always get to talk about the sun, about all other planets and stars. This time we had fun discussing potentials and the downsides of planting attempts on every planet, weather they are terrestrials or gas giants, and about our atmosphere, our moon, and Jupiter help us protect it.
While I am badly tempted to pick a bag of soil and move on… we did discuss what is soil, how it gets created, what are minerals and rocks, and how they are related. We love playing and discussing rocks (more on that in Geology ROCK-n-Learn for kids. Best rocks & minerals play activities.), but it is funny to see the surprised looks on the faces, as they realize that these activities and sciences start coming together as a jigsaw puzzle pieces.
We headed for the local Home Depot and dived back into Geography. All the flower pots were so lovely, we wanted them all. I did my best to resist my temptation to get them purely based on the pretty looks, turned the pots around and to show the kids listings of zone, sun, water and other requirements. We did our best to select a few easy, hardy plants, that would feel comfortable enough at the edge of a tree shadow, that would be so wonderful to have them.
This is a list of some good, pretty, hardy flowering plants, that have a better chance to withstand the care and zeal of the youngest gardening enthusiast.
- Sweet Peas
- Nigella (Love in A Mist)
- Eschscholzia (Californian Poppy)
- Hardy Geranium (Cranesbill)
Thanks to Thompson-Morgan for this list and some simple tips how to take care of these beauties.
Ok, I got to admit, it is my husband, who usually does the digging, after I arrive home with another adoption from the local plant nursery. This time we were so eager to get started, that we attempted it all by ourselves. The kids helped a lot, but the conclusion that I had was rather simple: attempting to plant near a tree makes digging particularly difficult due to all the roots, that we neither want to damage, nor want to deal with. Daaa. Well, it really never occurred to me. So, two words of advise: stay away from trees – there is too much shade for the pretty flowers under their canopy anyway… and if you want your kids to be really helpful (trust me, they’d love to!), get them the miniature versions of the real tools, not plasticy junk built for toddlers in a sand.
Botany became the science of the day: how plants reproduce, how they grow, what do they need to live, what do you need to keep them healthy (e.g., surround the flower patch, to keep the lawn mowers away!!), what special parts do they consist of, etc. At home,we’ve got tons of presentations and materials to get a better understanding: Growing our roots into botany
Our backyard is plentiful in tons of lifeforms. Not just plants and kids who had so much fun planting them. Our previous planting endeavors consistently suffer from a quite a few unwelcome visitors, such as rabbits, groundhogs, and the worst of them all – deer. As we were digging, we also found tons of very welcomed visitors: earthworms. Though, these guys didn’t share my kids’ affections and didn’t look as happy to see them, as we did. So our local herbivorous zoology, as well as a few (luckily!) missing carnivorous ones, got a good spin in our outdoor (and heavily perspiring shovel-activists’) classroom. So, we all had quite a discussion about the types of animals, their dietary preferences, and how it affects our adorable new little garden.
Our little plants look adorable. They look happy, nodding their heads in approval in the whole week of spring showers. I am happy too: no need to worry about watering them for a while. Our little gardener’s – do not share this sentiment: they don’t understand, why they should skip the watering can fun. Yet, they are really looking forward to enjoy it when it gets sunny again! Little plants, good luck!…