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5 Gardening Activities For Kids Of All Ages

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As the weather gets warmer, kids will still be home from school. Gardening can be a great way to keep them engaged and get them outside.

Many of us have been cooped up in our homes as we collectively ride out the coronavirus pandemic. But the stay-at-home order doesn’t mean you need to stay inside. And for those of us living with kids, getting out in the garden can be a great way to get rid of some energy and exercise their creativity. 

Gardening expert Melinda Myers shares some gardening projects for kids of all ages:

1. Paint a rain barrel

"It's a great way to dress up that rain barrel. The kids will have some fun and some ownership. It also helps them understand the water. It hits the roof, runs off, goes in this rain barrel that they can then use to water their flowers and garden. So it's a good lesson," says Myers. 

Rain barrels can be an awesome way of reusing water and preventing basement flooding. Decorating the barrel can help brighten up the container and personalize the water cycle.

2. Grow microgreens

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It's quick and simple to grow microgreens.

"I like planting microgreens, planting radish cause they are quick, you get fast results. You don't have to wait forever for that tomato," says Myers. "[Microgreens are] something that keeps the kids excited." 

Growing microgreens is quick and simple. Plus, you can easily use repurposed material.   

Myers says growing greens can be an excellent way of introducing kids to new foods and getting them excited to eat the food they grow. 

3. Decorate plant markers

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You can use rocks, sticks, and other items to make plant markers.

"Get out the paints, have kids write the names of the plants so you are working on the spelling. Take some old rocks, paint pictures of the vegetables or flowers," says Myers. 

Plant markers are a fun way to brighten up the garden before the plants begin to sprout and help you visualize what the garden will look like. They also help you remember what you planted and when to water or fertilize.

4. Plan their own garden

"Measure out the space, put them in charge," says Myers. "The only problem with putting the kids in charge is you better live with their decisions unless you can kindly direct them."

This is a great project for teenagers or more advanced gardeners. It gives a sense of ownership and control that can lead to some great discoveries. 

5. Bark rubbings

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To do a bark rubbing, you need a piece of paper and something to draw with (crayon, pen, colored pencil, etc.). Then you just put that piece of paper on the bark and color on the paper until the bark pattern starts to form on the paper.

"If you can go around your neighborhood and there are trees, do some bark rubbings. As the trees start to leaf out, see if you can identify the trees in the neighborhood," says Myers. 

Throwback to the Lewis and Clark expedition, bark rubbings can turn into an entire fact-finding mission. Researching the trees and adding facts to the drawings can be a fun indoor adventure after returning from the trek around the neighborhood.

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Joy Powers joined WUWM January 2016 as a producer for Lake Effect. Before then, she was a director and producer for Afternoon Shift, on WBEZ-fm Chicago Public Radio.
From 2020 to 2021, Jack was WUWM's digital intern and then digital producer.
Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine.