By Jackie Carroll
Toddlers love spending time outdoors discovering nature. Your toddler will find lots of things to explore in the garden, and if you are prepared with a few toddler gardening activities, you can enhance his or her experience. Gardening with toddlers is a healthy way for parents and children to enjoy the outdoors together.
Themes for Gardening with Toddlers
Garden themes for toddlers should center around their five senses.
- Choose textured plants that they can feel and sensitive plants that snap shut when touched.
- Fragrant herbs appeal to a child’s sense of taste and smell. Honeysuckle is very fragrant, and if you catch the flowers at just the right time, you can squeeze a drop of sweet nectar onto the child’s tongue.
- There is no end to the variety of bright-colored flowers that are a delight to look at, and toddlers enjoy them even more if they can pick a few to enjoy indoors.
- Ornamental grasses that rustle in the breeze are plants that toddlers can hear.
Consider toddler garden design ideas that involve several aspects of nature. Ladybugs and butterflies are a delight to little ones. Bachelor’s buttons, sweet alyssum and cup plants have brightly-colored flowers that attract ladybugs and butterflies. Borage is a fuzzy-textured plant that attracts ladybugs and green lacewings. Butterflies are particularly fond of anise hyssop, which has a strong, licorice scent.
How to Garden with Young Kids
Here are some ideas to help you make the most of your time in the garden with a toddler.
- Let your child dig and scratch in the garden with small plastic garden tools. Large kitchen spoons and measuring cups make great toddler tools.
- Talk to your toddler about earthworms as “garden helpers.” Little ones that like to get dirty will enjoy digging for worms. Place a worm in his or her hand to hold for a few minutes.
- Let your toddler move small ornaments, such as pinwheels, around the garden.
- Help your toddler pick flowers and place them in a vase of water. Let him or her help add water to the vase as necessary.
- Show your toddler how to water the garden with a small, plastic watering can.