These gardening chores your toddlers and preschoolers do will help get them outside and get them involved in growing fruits and vegetables.
I grew up in the country.
I’m talking about fields on 3 sides of my house and woods on the other. Since we live in the South my family farms cotton, peanuts, corn, and other things throughout the year.
I’ve always loved being outside and never more now that I’m a mother with small kids.
I am also the type of woman who expects too much of others. I’ve been known to expect all my kids to help me with tasks that aren’t age appropriate.
My husband and mom give me the side eye often.
However, instead of saving all projects for a few years from now when the kids are older, I’ve learned to organize and situate projects into tasks the kids can actually do.
Then, when they are not underfoot, I can do the rest. This is how we do gardening. We work in blocks when they are up and at ’em, then I work like a busy bee when they are all sleeping.
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Chores toddlers and preschoolers can do in the garden
While you may not let your preschooler prune your rose bush, there are things they can do well.
- Plant | My kids have helped plant seeds, seed pods, and seedlings. They are well able to dig in the dirt and as long as they are of the age to follow instructions this is something they can do that will help them feel accomplished.
- Water | Obviously watering is a fun task for small children. While I love letting mine fill up the water cans, I am sure they don’t flood plants. If you have a hose with a nozzle this will work well, but be sure to explain to your kids some plants (like tomatoes) want water on the roots, not on the leaves.
- Weed | A friend of mine has her children weeding her garden on their own by age 3. I am not so brave! That said, depending on whether there was a raised bed or in the ground. Sometimes if I only have raised beds, weeding isn’t an issue. However, I have shown the kids very carefully where weeds are and they are pretty good at this.
- Harvest | Kids love picking fruit. Mine will pick blueberries every day until there are no more. If you show your child how to pick the particular fruit, veggie, or herb you want they will become a good little helper. And a good little eater as well ;)
Our gardening project with seed pods
I was so excited when Spring weather came our way so we could begin planting the fruits and veggies we love to eat during the summer.
We have a fairly large area on one end of our yard that we designated the “garden.”
- I decided what I wanted to plant and where | I keep the veggies and fruit in the garden at the other end of the yard, and the herbs by our door so I can step outside and easily access them during cooking.
- I gathered supplies | My kids love carrying shovels and watering cans. This is half the fun for them! We either carry it all up to the garden or put stuff in the back of the truck and drive it there, if we have a lot of tools.
- I explained the process | With the Gro-ables, we chose which seeds we wanted to plant, then we loosened the dirt in those pots. We chose to plant our tomatoes and peppers in pots and the cucumbers in the potting mix. The kids stuck their hands deep down in the dirt and made a place to put the seed pods. My 5, 3, and 2-year-olds did this.
- We took off the tops | With the Gro-ables, you just peel off the top of the seed pod, which also has the instructions, and you are left with the pod, dirt, and seeds.
- Put the seeds in the loosened potting mix | The kids each took a few pods and put them into the they had previously loosened. The pod went easily into our and then when it was level with the top of the dirt it was ready for water.
- Water every day | Clearly, watering the seeds and plants is the kids’ favorite part. We watered them thoroughly the first day and have continued to do so since then. It has become a routine part of our day (often with their Nana) we all look forward to.
Starting and maintaining a garden can be a project you do with your little children. You don’t have to plant acres to reap the benefits, and gardening itself does not have to be so complicated the kids can’t join in.