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Frugal Summer Fun via www.RaisingLifelongLearners.com

Welcome to Day Four of 5 Days of Frugal Summer Fun, part of the Summer 2013 iHomeschool Network Hopscotch. Yesterday, we talked about  things to do inside when the temperatures are too sultry to be out. On Tuesday, I shared 20 Fun and Frugal Water Play Ideas. At the beginning of the week, I rounded up a list of different things you can do to build memories outside in the summer without water.

Today I’m talking about gardening with kids.

 

6 Great Gardening Adventures for Kids via www.RaisingLifelongLearners.com

 

There are so many wonderful things about getting outside and planting, growing, and eating your own foods. I could go on about the importance of teaching your kids where food comes from and what real food is, or how connecting with nature is crucial for little ones {and big people too}, or I could share about the fun that can be had when you garden with kids – but so many people are doing better jobs of that.

Instead, I’m going to give you a few ideas that you can easily implement and get your kids outside and growing things right away. The lessons you can sneak in are just bonuses for us homeschooling moms. And just think… you’ll be able to start the school year ahead in at least one subject {science}.

 

Let them grow on their own.

This year, we plopped an old Little Tikes Playhouse {so old that it’s not sold anymore – this one’s close} down in the backyard and cut a garden next to it so the girls have their own “home” and garden. Once Brian cut the garden, tilled it, and edged it with old cinder blocks we had lying around, the girls planted seeds. It was a semi-organized attempt, and we’ll see what grows where as they neglected to mark any of the plants. One thing they did do, that I’m looking forward to seeing, is plant their sweet peas right against the house. We’ll string twine over its roof so the peas can climb the house and give it an Old English ivy-covered look. The best thing is that this playhouse has been neglected and unused for a couple of years, and now it’s played in every single day, and the girls are “cleaning” their house and weeding their garden every day.

 

6 Great Gardening Adventures for Kids via www.RaisingLifelongLearners.com

 

Make a pizza garden.

In my book, Real Life Science Mysteries, I share profiles of every day people working in various science fields, then offer 2-4 activities related to that job to help kids answer the question “Why do I need to study this?” One of the profiles is of a landscape architect. Did you know that there is a science to planning which plants go where and grow best in which conditions and with which other plants? One of the activities that we did as we learned about landscape architecture was to design, plan {draw out}, plant, then harvest our own pizza garden. The kids researched the types of plants that might be found on a pizza and which grew in our area. And, they plotted it out in the shape of a pizza – a circle – in a planter. So fun – and tasty! Try it yourself by downloading these sample pages from the book.

 

6 Great Gardening Adventures for Kids via www.RaisingLifelongLearners.com

 

Mystery gardening.

Do your kids know that seeds are everywhere? Talk to them about how seeds travel and grow. Then, go outside, scoop up some soil from the yard or a park, take it home, and plant it in a pot. Moisten the soil well, cover it with plastic wrap to get things started, and wait to see if anything sprouts. Once you see some green, take the plastic off and nurture your new seedlings. As they get bigger, see if you can you can use a local field guide to identify them.

 

Press some flowers.

Did you collect and press flowers when you were young? I did, and loved seeing how easy it was to preserve flowers and plants from my walks and hikes. You can either make your own flower press by using thin wood, some nuts and bolts, and stacks of cardboard or you can purchase on already made. {You can even press flowers between the pages of an old book.} We purchased an inexpensive press at a homeschooling convention last year.

 

6 Great Gardening Adventures for Kids via www.RaisingLifelongLearners.com

 

Make a fairy garden.

If you checked out our bucket list post, you’ll know that this is on our list of things to do this summer. I might even be persuaded to get started on it this weekend. In fact, we met friends for dinner this evening, and my good friend and terrific children’s writer and app blogger, Mary, gave Molly a handmade fairy house to get her started. {I’ll have to share a picture later.} Gather some toy houses or fairy garden accessories, and cultivate a small place in the backyard in which your own little ones can grow their imaginations.

 

6 Great Gardening Adventures for Kids via www.RaisingLifelongLearners.com

 

Sunflower fort.

Have you ever read The Sunflower House by Eve Bunting? It’s one of my favorite books, and so enchanting. Take your kids on the same adventure the boy and his friends enjoy. Plant a circle of giant sunflowers in your yard and let them grow an summer-time fort for the kids to play in. I wonder if it’s too late for that here…

 

Don’t forget that part of the fun, and learning, comes from the harvest and preparation of anything kids grow outside. Have them help prepare salads and meals. Encourage them to make flower arrangements for the dinner table with bounty from their gardens.

Do you have great ideas for gardening with kids? Share some of your favorite links and suggestions in the comments.

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Colleen Kessler

Colleen is an explorer, tinkerer, educator, writer, creator, and a passionate advocate for the needs of gifted and twice-exceptional children. She has a B.S. in elementary education, a M.Ed. in gifted studies, is a sought-after national speaker and educational consultant, and is the founder of the popular blog and podcast Raising Lifelong Learners, as well as Raising Poppies, a community of support for parents of gifted children. She lives in northeast Ohio with her four bright and quirky kiddos, patient husband, and ever-changing collection of small reptiles, mammals, and insects.