Gardening for children

Your toddler can have fun gardening while learning about the world around them.

Child using gardening equipment in soil

Introduction

Any form of pottering around in a garden - growing and tending plants and flowers or just examining leaves and soil - is a fun way of helping your child to learn more about the world around them.

Even if you don't have an outdoor space, your child can still learn so much about plants by buying a packet of seeds or some herbs and growing them in a pot or window box (they'll love helping you to water them).

It's an enriching and enjoyable experience and one that teaches them about nurturing things, caring for the environment and also about the lifecycle of plants (how they grow from a tiny seed into something much bigger).

How CBeebies can help

CBeebies has many shows, games, songs and activities to do with plants, gardening, growing food and exploring the natural world around us.

If your child enjoys growing seeds then introduce them to the delights of Mr Bloom's Nursery. Here, they can meet the veggies and have fun with Mr Bloom and the 'tiddlers' as they explore the potting shed and allotment, and tend all the different plants.

Dirtgirlworld is great for older kids (4-6 year-olds). They can find out more about growing your own food and taking care of the environment.

The Green Balloon Club website has a wealth of information and fun activities for your child to try as well as songs to join in with and programme clips to watch.

How to make a magic moment

Gather together a selection of quick-to-grow seeds that your toddler can plant. Examples include sunflower seeds, mustard cress seeds and salad seeds.

Designate a corner of the garden as a space for your toddler to explore and grow things in. If you don't have a garden, give your child some soil of their own! Buy them some pots or a small window box.

Buy a set of mini-tools he can manage to hold himself - a rake, a trowel and a spade - plus a mini-watering can.

Toddlers have a limited attention span, and won't be absorbed for more than a few minutes at a time with any garden-based activity. Keep things simple and have other activities up your sleeve to extend your child's interest. Let them join in with you as much as possible, getting involved with tasks he can do without too much supervision, e.g. watering the plants and seedlings or hunting for minibeasts (e.g. snails, worms and insects). Explain how bugs and creepy-crawlies are good for the soil, and encourage him to hold these creatures (gently and carefully).

Take photos or draw pictures of seedlings and plants and stick them in a scrapbook to help your child remember the process of planting and growing.

By Heather Welford

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Top tips

  • Plant cress seeds in empty egg shells (which have been painted with silly faces) and sit them in an egg box.Make an indoor garden using a plastic seed tray. Create a path with some gravel, and add bits of painted sponge for bushes and some tissue paper flowers.Experiment with fruit pips - plant an apple or orange pip in compost in a small pot, keep slightly damp and near a source of light and see what happens!If you have flowers in your garden, your toddler can help you collect seeds from the dried pods (sweet peas and hollyhocks are good). Keep them in an envelope and then plant in spring.

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