Gardens provide a wonderful environment for children to explore, learn and play. By gardening together as a family, you can foster a life-long love of nature, while reaping the many health benefits of being outside!
Whether you have grown a garden for years or have never planted anything before, there’s a gardening activity out there for everyone and every space.
With the tips and resources listed below, you’ll learn how you can start gardening with your family at home, be part of a community garden, and put your planting skills to use in support of a local habitat restoration project.
For in-depth gardening tips you can also visit CWF’s Gardening for Wildlife page.
What You Will Need:
- Containers or space to plant in
- Seeds and/or seedlings
- Basic gardening tools – trowel, rake, watering can, gloves
- Outdoor clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty
- Sunscreen and bug spray
- Lil Green Sprouts Activity Booklet
Share Your Experience to Earn a Gardening Badge!
All you need to do is log into or sign up for your own WILD Family Nature Club account! Snap a picture of your family in the garden and upload it to the Gallery, or share your own gardening tips with others on the Discussions page to earn a digital Gardening Badge.
Windowsills, Balconies and Backyards
Gardening at home can take many forms. Whether it’s a sprawling patch of vegetables in your backyard or a few containers filled with flowers or herbs on your apartment balcony or windowsill, your family can connect with nature at home by growing your own plants and gardening together!
- Choose your location. Walk around your space with your kids and look for spots that have good sunlight, are easy to water, and will allow you to enjoy and show off what you grow!
- Make a sun chart! Take a piece of white paper and have kids draw a map of your space, then watch how the sun shines down on your garden spot throughout the day. How many hours of light are you getting? This will help you determine what type of plants to choose, as some like full sun and others prefer shade.
- Now that you know more about your space, have your kids help pick what to plant. Choose seeds that are larger, as some seeds are tricky for little hands. Choosing seeds with a higher germination rate will also help you avoid disappointment.
- To keep them engaged, help kids create their own gardening kit with gloves, a trowel, and other fun items like a homemade watering can!
- Don’t be afraid to let kids get dirty; that’s part of the fun! When you’re ready to plant, follow the instructions on the seed packets so you get the best results.
- Get creative! Try using recycled or upcycled items as planters, like an old rain boot or toy wagon.
- For a fun twist that kids will love, try building a fairy garden amongst your plants or one of these other great nature crafts!
- Once things start to grow, spend time enjoying and exploring your garden together as a family! What do you see? What do you smell? Are there any signs of visitors, such as bugs, birds or other wildlife?
Community gardens come in many different shapes and sizes but are essentially a single piece of land that is gardened collectively by a group of people. They are a great way to grow a bigger garden if you don’t have the space at home, and also offer opportunities to connect with and learn from other families and people in your community!
Many community gardens also incorporate playful features like mini mazes, painted fences and themed beds to engage local children and get them excited about getting their hands dirty. To get started, contact your local community garden to see if there are empty plots available to rent.
- Each community garden will have its own policies, procedures and rules about when and what you can plant as well as what types of shared tools are available. Make sure you read this important information before selecting a plot.
- Include your child in the gardening process by giving them a section of your plot as their very own to plant and care for.
- Choose low maintenance plants that don’t require constant attention in case you aren’t able to visit your plot every day.
- Incorporate craft activities into your garden plot! Create colourful plant markers, painted rocks or stepping stones.
- Make sure to take the time to visit your garden every couple of days to keep an eye on it. Take the kids for a walk and stop at the garden on the way!
- Become a citizen scientist by using iNaturalist to identify any bugs, birds and wildlife that visit your garden.
Habitat Restoration Projects
Ready to put your planting skills to use in support of wildlife and wild spaces? Try volunteering with a local community organization that specializes in service projects that focus on protecting, preserving, and restoring local habitats. Whether it’s a local weed pull or tree planting event, your family can use their gardening experience in support of the environment by steeping up to protect or restore habitat for wildlife in your area!
- Get kids involved with researching possible projects that might interest them. They will be more excited to participate when they have an interest in the activity!
- Reach out to local organizations that host restoration and reforestation projects to learn about upcoming opportunities.
- Some restoration projects involve a lot of hiking and/or physical activity. Make sure to find one that fits your needs or is flexible in case you need to leave early.
- Check with the project manager for the proper supplies, protective wear, and equipment you may need. Will they have appropriate equipment for kids?
- Check the weather in advance and dress appropriately.
- Remember to bring water! It is important to stay hydrated while you’re outdoors.
- Volunteering is a great way to learn about wildlife and nature conservation from local experts. Talk about the work that you’ll be doing with kids in advance and encourage them to ask questions at the event.
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