Sunday, October 1, 2017

7 Benefits of Gardening For Kids

By Amy K. Williams

Amy Williams is a freelance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.


One of the biggest joys in life for children is digging in the dirt. This simple pleasure naturally taps into a child’s curiosity. We can use this love for dirt to introduce our boys and girls to gardening. Gardening with kids can be a rewarding and enjoyable activity. It provides opportunities to bond, enjoy nature, avoid outside judgment, and more. Listed below is the dirt on gardening and 7 reasons why we should embrace this activity with our children:  

  • It boosts immune systems! There is increasing evidence that exposure to the microbes found in soil are important to our health. Over the years, researchers have pieced together a theory that in the past our immune systems were exposed to bacteria and organisms found in the soil, water, air, and animals which fortified our disease fighting mechanisms. Gardening returns us to our roots and exposes us to a variety of beneficial microbes living in the soil.

  • Gardening provides firsthand science and biology experiences. Tending plants allows unique opportunities to observe, handle, and interact with the world. Kids can learn plants, biomes, classification systems, photosynthesis, the water cycle, insects, soils, rocks, weather, and more!

  • It’s calming. Whether it is being surrounded by nature or the rhythmic activities associated with gardening, researchers have evidence that gardening reduces cortisol levels. This, in turn, produces positive thinking and relieves stress.

  • It teaches patience. In a world of instant gratification, taking time to nurture seedlings and waiting for harvest appears to take forever. However, gardening allows kids to see how hardwork and patience pays off.

  • Gardening gives access to fresh and nutritious foods. Growing our own fruit and veggies allows our families a supply of affordable and good quality food. It also fosters an appreciation of knowing where our food comes from.

  • Plants improve air quality within our homes. Scientists have found indoor plants absorb carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds like benzene and formaldehyde found in our homes. These indoor air pollutants have been linked to asthma, nausea, respiratory illnesses, and at times, even cancer.

  • Digging, harvesting, and pulling weeds is a great form of exercise! A study found gardening burns more calories than exercise trips to the gym! These findings are a little startling, but we should consider gardening is a lower intensive workout and typically lasts two or three times longer than a traditional gym workout. Over time, this calorie-burning activity really adds up!


Digging Up Fun: 6 Ideas for Indoor Gardening with Kids

If you want the fun to last all year long or lack outdoor space, scroll through the following suggestions and ideas to bring the benefits of gardening inside:

Start seeds indoors using recycled materials. The opportunities are endless, just tap into your imagination. If you are struggling to come up with an idea, consider using clear plastic pop bottles to create self-watering containers.

Build a fairy garden. Children love the idea of magical lands and creatures. Tap into this excitement by crafting an indoor fairy garden in a small planter. Add tiny houses, play equipment, clotheslines, and more to give a creative spin on the project. For added magic, use a pinch of sugar or glitter to “find” a sprinkle of fairy dust around the garden every now and then.
Create an indoor water garden complete with a fish! Gather a large vase, stones, a beta fish, and a cutting of a peace lily to build a contained water garden. This activity introduces aquaponics and mutualism, demonstrating how fish benefit from plant roots by getting shelter and food, while fish waste provides fertilizer for plants. Plus, it’s entertaining to watch the fish explore his new habitat.

Discover a new island! Make an island with a kitchen sponge, a deep plate, and a handful of grass seed. This allows kids to watch seeds germinate and grow. Soak a kitchen sponge in a plate of warm water and sprinkle the top with grass seed. Everyday, add water to the bowl so the sponge is surrounded by water and can keep the seeds moist. In a few days, the island will start to green up as the seeds grow. Add little decorations to the island and keep the length of the grass maintained with scissors.

Grow your own reading buddy. Remember the theory that plants grow better when we speak to them? Let kids grow their own plant to practice language and fluency skills by reading to their very own sprout.

Regrow edible vegetables from your fridge or compost pile. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to teach the joy of gardening. Consider using selected scraps like the bottoms of celery, cuttings from potatoes, the tops of carrots, the pits of avocados, and pineapple tops to start your own indoor garden.


How do you bring gardening indoors for kids?

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