Most kids love the opportunity to get a little dirty and dig around in the dirt, but playtime in the garden isn’t just about fun, it is an excellent learning opportunity as well. Gardening with kids gives you an opportunity to spend time together, while also teaching them how to grow plants, and perform garden science experiments.
Science experiments with plants are a great way to get kids excited about both gardening and science. Gardening with children can be made even more exciting by getting them their own gardening tools for kids. These gardening tools are usually just a smaller version of traditional gardening equipment, but the smaller size can make it easier, especially for younger children, to handle.
Growing Veggies From Scraps
Did you know that there are several different types of plants that you grow in your garden by using food scraps? Using food scraps for some of these gardening science experiments makes gardening with children very easy. Here are a couple of cool plant experiments you can do with food scraps from your kitchen.
You can grow fresh celery in your garden that you can use in your kitchen for healthy meals and snacks! All that you need to do to get celery ready to plant in your garden is to cut off about 5 cm of the root end of the celery and place it in a bowl of water in a warm, sunny area. In a few days, you will see leaves begin to sprout, once this happens you can plant the celery in the soil in your garden and soon you will have your own celery plant!
Do you have some potatoes in the kitchen that are a little past their prime and have begun growing eyes on them? All you need to do is cut the potato into sections with the eyes still on them. Leave these sections sitting out to dry overnight, and then plant them in soil with the eyes facing up, just as you would with seed potatoes.
Green onions are a great plant for science experiments for kids. They grow quickly, and there are two different ways that you can perform this plant science experiment. The first is to plant them in water, and the second is to plant them in soil. Your kids can watch as both sets of plants grow and see which way they grow the best, which way they grow the fastest, and which way grows more.
To perform this plant science experiment with water all you need to do is cut off 5 cm of the bottom white part of your green onions leaving the roots intact. Place the cuttings in a clean, clear glass jar with a little bit of water. Make sure the roots are submerged, but that the tops of the stems are above the water. Place the jar in a bright area, but not in the direct sunlight, you should see new growth in a matter of days. Be sure to change the water if it becomes cloudy.
To perform this garden experiment with soil, cut your onions the same way that you did for the water garden science experiment. Place the onion cuttings into your garden, or a pot of soil, use a pencil to make a hole in the dirt and push your cuttings root down into the soil. The top of each stem should be above the soil. Plant the stems in full or partial sun and keep the soil damp.
Growing Without Soil
Fun plant experiments can be done without having to grow them in soil. Some plants can be started without soil and then transplanted in soil later, and it is a lot of fun for kids to watch something grow with no dirt involved!
To do this cool plant experiment you will need some cotton wool, seeds, a seed starting tray or an empty, clean peanut butter or jam jar, and a spray bottle with water. If you don’t have a roll of cotton wool, you can also use cotton balls. Spread some cotton wool on the bottom of your jar or seed tray and mist it with water from your spray bottle. Pull the cotton wool slightly to separate it a bit.
Sprinkle your seeds on top of the cotton wool about 2.5 to 5 cm apart, put the seed tray or jar in a bright area with indirect light. The temperature should be between 18 C and 21 C for ideal growing. The seeds need a moist environment so make sure to mist the cotton wool daily but don’t leave the cotton soaking or your seeds will mildew. Soon your seedlings will have roots and small leaves, once they do you can gently transplant them into the soil. Some of the best seeds for this garden experiment are lima beans, peas, butter beans, lentils, and peanuts (with the shell removed).
Another garden science experiment that you can do with your kids is to have them re-root a plant in water with no soil. For this experiment, just place the stems of the plants into a glass of water and keep them in a warm area out of direct sunlight. Watch as the roots continue to grow, and then place them back into soil if you wish. Some plants that will re-root in water are mint, basil, geraniums, rosemary, and sage.
If you are looking for another gardening project for kids why not try making your own compost to use in the garden? To make your compost you will need a one-gallon size plastic jar, green materials (vegetable peels, grass clippings, house plant clippings, eggshells, banana peels), brown materials (dried grass or leaves, wood shavings, torn pieces of newspaper, straw) and peat moss. You may need to collect your green and brown materials for up to a week before starting your compost gardening science experiment.
Put about 5 cm of brown material in the bottom of your plastic jar, now place 5 cm of the green material on top of the brown, add a 2 cm layer of peat moss on top of the green material and water the peat moss. The peat moss should be damp but not soaked. Repeat the layers until the jar is ¾ of the way full, moisten the top layer and put the lid on top of the jar, but do not screw it shut. Check on your compost daily for about three weeks, if it looks dry moisten it but do not soak it or it will mould. After the three weeks have passed, feel and examine your compost to see how it has changed, and add it to your garden or flower pots.
If your children enjoy these gardening activities for kids, you might also consider getting them some gardening books for kids, or gardening kits for kids. There are so many garden science experiments that you can do with your kids that will teach them not only a love of science but a love of gardening as well. What is your favourite gardening for kids activities?
Here’s how you can make nature play fun and safe for your kids! Or, do you want to squeeze some exercise into their daily activities? Check out these amazing benefits of yoga for kids next!