Two years ago I worked with youth in a school and summer program on local farms and in school gardens. In between learning sessions and actual garden work, we played games to drive home the day’s message. In this post, I describe one of the most beloved activities among the youth in the garden.
Spring is a great time to pass on a love of gardening to kids. One of the kids’ favorite garden activities was getting planted. Let’s face it, what kid doesn’t like to get dirty, especially when they have permission to? While some might not have yard space for this activity, a large pot might work just as well.
“Planting” kids gives them the chance to connect with the garden in a fun way, and to imagine what it’s like to be a plant.
* First, explain the activity to the children. Tell them that they are going to experience what it’s like to be a plant.
* Next, dig a hole (or have the kids dig their own hole) in the garden so that when the child stands in it, the ground is flush with their legs, just below the knees.
* Make sure there are no sharp objects in the soil because the children will be barefoot and preferably wearing shorts (or have their pants cuffed up above the knees to avoid getting them dirty).
* Once the child stands in the hole, fill it in all the way and pat the soil down, explaining that this is how you plant a real plant. Ask them to wiggle their roots (er, toes) around to get a feel for the soil. Ask them to hold out their arms and sway in the wind like a plant might.
* You can also take a watering can and water the area around the child. As the water sinks into the soil, they will feel it around their legs in feet. Ask them to imagine they are a plant soaking up the water with their roots.
* Take pictures! Document the reaction of your child as they get planted, sway in the wind and get watered.
By involving kids in this and other fun garden activities, you can get them thinking about where their food comes from, instill a love of healthy fruits and vegetables, teach them the science behind plant growth, and get them active – all benefits to growing a healthier generation and planet.