3 Simple (But Stimulating) Gardening Projects You Can Do With Toddlers
Today we welcome Scott to the Bounceback Parenting blog. He’s a dad to two who discovered early in parenting that gardening is a great way to connect with kids. Here are his experiences with finding easy gardening with toddler activities that he and his son could enjoy together. For more gardening ideas you can find our favorite garden tools for toddlers here, and an interview with author Cathy James on Getting Started Gardening With Kids here. ~Alissa
When William was born, my oldest son, the thought of connecting with him as a person wasn’t even on my mind. As a first time parent I was too worried about how my wife and I were going to juggle two full time jobs, getting him to and from daycare, dirty dishes, laundry, and mounds of pet hair.
How on earth was I going to find time to raise my little man and connect with him at the same time while chasing my tail to maintain a household?
What I hadn’t realized yet was that I didn’t need to set aside time to connect with William. In time I learned that our daily interactions gave me plenty of opportunities to form a bond, even if many of them were just fleeting moments.
Some of my favorite moments turned out to be when he was a toddler and was completely gung-ho about helping me work in the garden. At first it was a nuisance, he was getting in the way and it was taking me longer to till the soil and pull the weeds.
My wife, being wiser than me, bought an unfinished wood birdhouse and acrylic paint for us to decorate it with. She thought a birdhouse would be an excellent accessory for the garden and a fun project we could all do together.
The three of us spent about an hour painting flowers and a lady bug on it. When the paint dried I sealed it with two coats of polyurethane spray and mounted it on a stake. The next day William and I chose a spot in the garden to place it and then we waited impatiently for a family of birds to make a home.
They eventually did and because of that hour of time we spent together we got to share even more moments watching the birds go in and out of their new home. The next spring when babies were born we got to share even more!
It was the first time I felt we were doing something constructive together and from there I found lot’s of other ways for him to help me improve the garden. Here are a couple more of my favorites.
We Built A Garden Scarecrow Together
William was growing out of his clothes very quickly so we had no shortage of shirts and pants to sacrifice. He even had a pair of overalls that were perfect for this quick project.
We were able to get a little hay from local local farm and we used it to stuff the overalls and a long sleeve shirt. We grabbed an old white pillowcase from the linen closet and stuffed that to use for a head.
We painted a silly face on it using a large brush and an old can of latex paint from the basement. We mounted him on one of the tall stakes we used to tie up our tomato plants and planted him firmly in the middle of the garden. The whole project took us a couple hours at most and cost just a few dollars for the hay.
We Made A Wheelbarrow Planter
William really wanted to help me take care of the vegetables in the garden but when he tried to help he was still mostly getting in the way. I wanted to give him his own plants to take care of.
On the way home from work I noticed one of my neighbors had set up a wheelbarrow in their front yard and was using it as a planter for flowers. I thought this would be a great way to get William started while allowing him to care for his own plants.
It took a couple weeks of scouring tag sales but I eventually found a rusty wheelbarrow for sale. It was perfect because I was going to have to drill a couple holes in the bottom of it for drainage and this would cause the wheelbarrow to start slowly rusting anyway.
I lined the bottom with a couple inches of gravel and filled it to the brim with topsoil. He was over the moon excited when I wheeled it into the backyard and presented it to him, so we headed straight to the store to pick out a few plants. He picked out a few different colored impatients, a perfect choice for a wheelbarrow planter, and a random marigold. It was his garden so I let him pick whatever he wanted from the annuals section.
William is a young man of 17 now but I still fill that wheelbarrow with annuals every spring. It turned out to be a great accent for the garden. I look back over the last 17 year and remember lot’s of little moments along the way.
I’m not sure exactly how it started but at some point I began taking mental snapshots of particular moments. While in a moment I was appreciating I would tell myself “remember this” and to be honest I probably forgot 95% of those mental snapshots. But I do remember quite a few and many of them involve little projects that we did together like these gardening ones.
I still do it now with him and I hope to some day get to do it with his kids too while I share stories about the what their Dad was like when he was their age.
This article was written by Scott from architypes.net. If you’d like more ideas about gardening with kids then follow this link. When Scott isn’t gardening or bragging about his kids you can often find him pedaling around town on his bike or attempting a random recipe he found on Pinterest.