My name’s Caitlin Eisenhauer, and this summer I’ve been working with the Ecology Action Centre’s Food team. Over the last few months, I’ve been developing and delivering a series of food related workshops to young families. Gardening is a great activity that the whole family can get involved in. Whatever your families level of interest is in gardening, there is always room to get the kids involved. It is a great learning tool that teaches kids about the natural world and responsibility. These workshops were done in partnership with a local family centre who provides programing for preschoolers and their families.
Here are 4 of the workshop activities that we did to get kids involved in gardening.
1. Planting seeds is an easy way to introduce children to gardening. Make connections to concepts kids already know. One example I used with my kids was comparing seeds to babies. When building garden beds explain to them this is where the baby seeds will sleep. The seeds will need a blanket of soil to keep them warm. They need water like babies to make them grow
2. Make interesting names for your plants or seeds to get kids involved. I did this with one of my groups and they were overjoyed at the idea. For example we had “over the rainbow carrots” and “easter egg radishes.” The kids really enjoyed the different names and looked forward to what the end product would become.
3. Composting is something the whole family can do every day. It is the natural decomposition of organic material. You can build your own bottomless wooden box in the backyard, or buy a storage container and cut holes in the bottom. You can put things like food waste and weeds. There are also items you should never put in the compost, these include meat products, dairy products, bones and any oily products. Composting will keep your home environmentally friendly and an activity your child will look forward to doing everyday.
4. A creative way to use your vegetables is to try natural dying. Certain vegetables give off different hues of colour. Such examples include beets – red, red cabbage-purple, onion skins- orange, and spinach- green. It is a fun way to dye and provides great results and is fun for kids of all ages. For more instructions take a look at this website that provides a step-step guide on how to do this activity. http://playfullearning.net/all-natural-tie-dye-diy/
There are numerous ways to introduce gardening into your family. Whether it is planting or tie dyeing with vegetables, your kids will benefit a great deal from the knowledge they will gain from their own back yard. Just as much as you will enjoy doing it with them.