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Kids Dig Dirt - Tips for Spring Gardening With Your Little Sprout

Trying to manage the growing of vegetables and planting of spring flowers can be overwhelming with young children in tow, but it can be done. Spring is a great time to let children get down and dirty with you in the soil: when you’re cleaning out your garden for planting, there is no risk of fresh flowers getting pulled or seeds being trampled.

If you enjoy digging in the dirt, share the experience of working in the great outdoors with your toddler or preschooler. Use the following tips to make the experience fun, healthy, and educational for both you and your children.

Teach the tools. Take time at the beginning of your gardening season to show your child the various tools gardeners use. Consider allowing them their own bag or box of tools to use so they can work alongside you. Depending on your child’s age and maturity, let them use a few of your small tools (spades, dandelion diggers), or purchase an inexpensive set of plastic tools.

Give them a garden of their own. It does not have to be big. They can appreciate having dirt in a small box, or a sectioned area in your garden. Use the space to show them how to do real gardening, but let them work in it however they choose. And let them help in yours. They may have their own dirt pile, but they will probably want to assist you in yours. Make sure to have a few child-friendly tasks for them such as pulling out weeds, adding more dirt and clearing the garden of sticks.

Build on their curiosity.
Earthworms, ladybugs, bees and other plant-friendly creatures will start to make their appearance this time of year. Teach your child the names of each and watch as they learn. Let them hold a bug on their hand or cover up a worm with dirt so they can head back down in the soil.

Include the infants. Got babies? Don’t let them keep you from planting. Grab your portable swing, bouncy seat or travel play pen and put it to good use. Park your baby outside near the garden and let them get a healthy dose of fresh air while you work away.
Do not sweat the mess. Dress children in play clothes and let them have fun! Just hose them off or have them step in a small tub of water before heading in the house – and make it a bath night.

Age-Appropriate Gardening

With adult supervision, toddlers can:

Pull sticks and leaves out of gardens
Sort leaves and sticks in small piles
Dig with a small spade (with adult supervision)
Stir dirt in a box or bowl with a stick
or small shovel
Carry a watering can

Preschoolers can:

Learn to make rows and plant seeds
Help with digging, raking and smoothing dirt
Use a hose or watering can to water seeds and new plants
Learn the correct way to use a spade, a rake and a hoe

Rhonda is a mom, home manager and freelance writer. She lives with her husband and three young boys - all of whom will be getting down and dirty in the garden this spring.


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