Gardening can be seen by kids as either a chore or a fun activity. If you want to create a summer time activity that will entertain, educate and provide tasty treats for your kids then consider building a “Kinder Garden.” These gardens are set up to make it easy for young children to learn about important science concepts as well as grow something healthy and tasty.
The Kinder Garden (Child Garden)
A Kinder Garden is basically a small vegetable garden that is designed with kids in mind. The paths between rows are wider, they contain plants that produce foods that kids will love, they provide parents with lot of opportunities to enrich their children’s understanding of important scientific concepts and they provide kids with hours of summer fun.
How Much Space Do You Need
Kinder gardens don’t have to be large. In fact, a fire escape or even a windowsill is enough space for a small one. The key to a successful Kinder Garden is good soil, proper drainage and lots of sunshine.
Supplies You Will Need
To grow your Kinder Garden you will need dirt, seeds, watering can, small hand held gardening tools, stakes, containers (for indoor or patio gardens) and a garden plot. For larger gardens you will also need a hose, a rake, roto-tiller and a hoe. If you are starting your garden late in the season, you have the option of buying pre-started vegetable plants.
Starting Your Seeds
The first activity that you can do with your child is to start the seeds. Starting the seeds in April or May can ensure that the plants will bear fruit or vegetables by the end of the growing season. Starting a seed is simple. All you have to do is buying a starter flat, filling each cup with dirt, inserting a seed, water and place under a heat lamp or in a greenhouse. The key is to keep the seedlings at about 70+ degrees. This will encourage them to sprout.
Lessons that can be learned from this stage include: fine motor skills, measuring skills, and reading skills.
Setting Up Your Kinder Garden
As mentioned earlier, the design of a Kinder Garden is to make it easy for kids to move around and work in the garden. The rows are going to be wide enough to allow kids to move around the plants easily, without stepping on them. If your child has mobility issues, consider using large terracotta pots to raise the garden off the ground and to make navigating around the plants easier to do. If you have pets, then you will want to fence off the garden.
When your plants are ready to move outside you will want to provide your kids with the chance to pick where each one goes. Again read the seed packet to make sure the plants are spaced appropriately. This is a fun part for kids as they get to get their hands dirty. On the other hand, if your child has a dirt aversion, then provide them with hand tools and a pair of gardening gloves. If your child is in a wheelchair, then you have a couple of options for helping them to be a part of the planting process. First you can transfer the seedlings to planting pots that are set on a table, or you can provide your child with a gripper stick that will extend their reach from their wheelchair to the planting location.
Lessons for this stage: Reading (reading the seed packet for planting directions), math (measuring how far down and how far apart to plant the seedlings) and problem solving (figuring out how to layout the garden so each plant gets the sun and water that it needs).
Managing the Garden
Throughout the summer the Kinder Garden will provide you with daily opportunities to learn something new. Lessons can include things like: learning how to identify weeds from the vegetables, learning about composting, learning about what insects are good for the garden, learning what bugs are bad for a garden, learning about the food chain, learning how to water the garden, and learning about the life cycle of vegetables. Nutrition lessons and cooking lessons can also be integrated into your summer activities.
We tried the sensory gym as it’s a good start for kids to get to workout but it was later decided to continue with the garden part.