How to have fun with your kids in the garden to learn where their food comes from.
Wouldn’t it be great to get kids off the screens, like their laptops, tablets, and cell phones and get them to eat right too?
What would you think if I told you it can be done?
What if I told you both can be done at the same time?
Most kids nowadays live on a screen of one type or another. It’s hard just to get them to walk outside for five minutes. But most of them also like to play in the dirt when they do get outside. Why not let them do just that?
Some children have no clue where their foods come from. For instance, they have no idea where an egg comes from or a carrot or even a French fry. McDonald’s just has French fries or an egg comes from the grocery store in a carton or a carrot comes from a melted snowman.
I have a healthy 13-year-old and a picky-eater 11-year-old, but they always eat what they grow. Yes, I said what THEY grow. My kids play in the dirt with me. I love it and so do they. We have a huge garden and they have their space where they grow what they like. Even my picky eater grows what he likes which is a lot of potatoes and watermelon too.
Here are some tips for you to try to get your kids in the garden.
Little ones, even as young as nine months or when they can sit up alone, can play in the dirt and eating a bit of it won’t hurt them as long as you don’t spray or use chemicals in the yard and garden. As a matter of fact, most doctors will tell you it is actually healthy to a reasonable extent to let them get dirty.
My boys started at about nine months old playing in the dirt in the garden while I was planting or weeding. They get vitamin D from the sunshine and have fun too and they are close enough for you to watch them.
If you don’t have a big garden you can use containers. Try growing a small pot of strawberries and letting them pull one off themselves. This will get their minds knowing that good things come from green stuff also known as plants.
As they get bigger and can walk around you can let them finger paint on a container that is “just for them” to grow what they like. Help them plant their food and watch it grow and then pick and eat it when it is done. They will learn to love being outside and understand that food comes from the ground or an animal as you will see in a minute.
Here is a list of things to try for your little ones to get them in the garden.
- Cherry tomatoes are great for kids, but if they are young be sure to cut them at least in half.
- Strawberries, sweet and yummy and easy to eat.
- Hardy kiwi which does good in containers, but again cut them as they are small like a grape.
- Mini bell peppers, they are both beautiful and sweet.
- Miniature fruit trees can also be great for kids and can be grown in containers.
If your kids are a bit older, say between five and 10 they can help a lot more in the garden and if you started them young they will enjoy being out there with you. My 11-year-old can’t wait until we get chickens as he loves eggs and wants some “very fresh” ones right out of the chicken.
My boys help me a lot in the garden and by age five they were helping to dig and plant and weed and harvest quite regularly. If you make it fun they will come. It is not hard to get kids to dig in the dirt, even at my age J
If you start your plants from seeds you can even teach them math and science at the same time. Homeschoolers do this quite regularly. They have to learn math to make sure the seeds are far enough apart and that they have enough for the area they are covering with plants. The older children can grow anything they like to eat and usually have a pretty fair idea of what they like.
Here are some things the older kids might like to try for your older kids in the garden.
- Maybe they would like to grow grapes on a trellis around the front door or out in the garden.
- Potatoes are great as well because most kids love fries.
- Carrots in a container are amazing. They see the green but are surprised when that bright orange carrot comes up out of the dirt.
- Watermelons are a favorite in our garden. The boys always grow them themselves.
- Gourds would be a fun one as there are many crafts that can be made with them and girls love crafty things and boys can make birdhouses out of them.
If you have teenagers don’t be surprised if they give up on the garden. I have been very lucky with mine. He is still going at it with me, but in different ways now. He still plants his watermelon, but more like to haul things on a wagon behind the mower for me now. He is awesome to help out that way. He is 13 and almost as big as my husband and strong as an ox so he does a lot of the lifting for my tiny hiney as I am 4’10” and about 90 pounds on a good day soaking wet. He does grow a few things in the garden that he really likes though and I hope when he gets older he will continue to do so.
Here are some ideas for your teenagers to keep them in the garden with you.
- Suggest other melons like cantaloupe or honeydew or even a white melon that we tried this year (that the deer ate all of), a cream of Saskatchewan. They taste amazing.
- Large bell peppers for stuffing or even hot peppers if they have a spicy tooth.
- How about trying eggplant. They come in a variety of sizes and colors.
- Of course, the ever-popular tomato also comes in different sizes and colors including 2-pound varieties like Supersteak tomatoes.
- Or you can just have them help haul stuff around like mine does for me if he or she is not so interested in playing in the dirt anymore (but secretly they still are, but feel like they shouldn’t be anymore. They actually think they are too old for that stuff. I will never be too old for that stuff).
As you can see, if you can get them started young it will be easier to keep them interested. But even if they are already older, playing in the dirt is fun at any age. It will get them off the screens and into the garden and the great outdoors which is healthy for them and get them eating healthy foods that are not full of chemicals and pesticides like grocery store produce. Plus, if you have room and are allowed, get a few hens for fresh eggs. The kids will love chasing them around and making pets of them.
If you want even more information about healthy habits for kids or tips on how to get kids to eat more vegetables check out Suzi’s posts right here on Mom Life Happy Life; Healthy Habits For Kids For a Better Life and Tips On How To Get Kids To Eat Vegetables.
See you soon. Thank you, Suzi, for letting me guest post on your AWESOME blog.
For more fun in the garden and the great outdoors come see me at my place and check out my other posts like Stuff Kids Love To Grow, sign up and get a very special freebie that goes with both of these posts.