Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Gardening WIth Children

Gardening with children can be as simple or as complicated as we wish to make it. For the kids themselves, it can be not only an exciting adventure and experiment, but can also be a really good teaching tool and just gives LOADS of satisfaction - and kids love it, because it is an acceptable way to play with dirt!

If you have a big garden, finding space to make a special little garden plot for the kids will be easy, but even if you live in an apartment there are lots of options for growing plants of all kinds. You can devote a lot of time to a big plot or you can just spend a couple of minutes on something small.

Buy some gardening tools for kids which are designed specially for them. Your kids will love having their very own set of 'proper' gardening tools and be really keen to use them. It can also be discouraging for them to try, for instance, digging with a full-sized spade - it is just too heavy and cumbersome and almost certain to put them off even trying.

Gardening with kids is not just about planting seeds and watching flowers unfold, but also about recognising our place within nature and helping to conserve the world around us. It provides the best possible environment for learning all about:

  • Composting - Make your own compost out of kitchen and garden waste by making or buying a compost bin.

  • Encouraging wild life - encourage wild life into it and at the same time learn all about the beneficial insects and the important roles played by bees and birds.

  • Recycling - While gardening with children we are provided with the perfect opportunity to introduce them to the concept of recycling. We can re-use plastic bottle as cloches, make our own seed pots out of newspaper, use old bits of furniture as gardening containers or to build raised beds, learn to differentiate between materials which will disintegrate over time and those which will not ... the learning opportunities just go on and on.

How to Grow Cress Egg men

This project is fun in that it is very fast to grow cress, so progress will be apparent within a matter of days, and your cress egg man will have a healthy bunch of hair which you can then eat in egg sandwiches! They look pretty neat on the windowsill too!

You will need:

an egg, some cotton wool or kitchen towel, felt tip pens and cress seeds.

Boil the egg and eat for breakfast! Take care to slice off only the very top of the egg shell - fairly evenly if possible. Carefully place a wad of cotton wool or shredded kitchen towel in the base of the egg shell (now empty!). It should fill about half of the space available.
Place the egg shell in an egg cup and using felt tip pens, draw a face on one side of the egg - excluding any hair. Saturate the cotton wool or kitchen towel with water.
Sprinkle some seeds on to the cotton wool. Keep the cotton wool moist by watering every day, and within a matter of a couple of days, the cress will germinate and start to grow. To grow cress is a fairly quick experience, it will literally start showing above the egghead within only about 10 days, and hey presto! you have managed to provide your Egg men (or women, or monsters!) with a nice, edible mop of hair!

* You can vary it and grow cress in an empty egg carton and make a cress-a-pillar or plant seeds to make your child's name!

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