Looking for some fun gardening activities to do with the kids that don't involve spending hours outside in the cold? Well, look no further because today on the blog we have Nicky Roeber, Online Horitcultural Expert at Wyevale Garden Centres sharing some great ways to get the kids into gardening this winter.
Gardening is a fantastic activity to take up with your kids, combining the fun of messy play with the educational value of learning about the environment. There are literally hundreds of activities you could choose from, teaching them about anything from flowers and trees to birds and bees, whilst having lots of fun at the same time.
For this article, I have picked out four great gardening activities you can do with the kids indoors - so no matter the weather, you'll always have something you can turn to.
Grow plants from food in your kitchen
Growing your own plants from food in the kitchen is a great way to help kids understand where the food they eat comes from. Find out what seeds will sprout by putting them on moist kitchen paper at the bottom of a shallow plastic tray. You can try lentils, beans and brown rice, as well as seeds you may have in the kitchen such as poppy seeds, mustard seeds or pumpkin seeds.
Once the seeds start to germinate, you can transfer them into a jam jar or small pot to allow them to grow. Make sure the roots are well covered in soil and kept moist. Encourage the kids to check back on them every day and water them if the soil feels dry. Another great one to do at home is to cut the tops of carrots and parsnips and place them in a shallow dish of water. Keep them on a windowsill and they should sprout after a few days.
Create a cactus garden
Kids love cacti. Heck, we all love cacti! I think it's because they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, so they are fun to look at and collect. Helping them to create a cactus garden of their own can be a very rewarding experience, giving you a fantastic opportunity to teach them all about the variety of succulents and how they have adapted to hot and dry climates. The great thing about a cacti garden is that it will still look amazing, even if it gets a bit neglected.
Get a large pot or several smaller ones and fill the bottom with a layer of coarse sand to allow good drainage. Create a mixture of sand and compost or buy specialist cacti soil and fill the pot almost all the way to the top. Have the kids arrange their own garden by carefully replanting each cactus one at a time - just make sure they wear protective gloves when handling particularly prickly ones. Once they have been planted, make sure there is plenty of soil around the roots and decorate the top of the soil with rocks and any remaining sand. Just be careful not to over-water them - it's very easy to do with succulents!
Decorate some plant pots
Incorporate the arts into your gardening and have the kids create some fun designs for their very own plant pots. Simply pick up a few terracotta pots of varying sizes, some emulsion paint in a selection of colors, and a handful of paint brushes and you're ready to go. It's generally better to use water-based emulsion as it dries quickly and is much easier to clean up.
It's likely to be a messy job, so put down plenty of newspaper and make sure the kids are wearing old clothes. First, they'll need to paint the pots with a base layer of emulsion. They don't have to paint the bottom or inside, but they can if they wish. Once the base layer has dried, they can design the pots however they like - let them go crazy.
Make a bird feeder
Winter is a great time to get the kids to craft their own bird feeders as food is scarce - increasing the chance of attracting birds. Once you do this once, it should hopefully encourage more birds to come to your garden throughout the year, opening opportunities to teach the kids about the different kinds of birds and the changing of the seasons. It's also a great opportunity to get creative by making your very own bird feed.
You can have the kids make their own feeder at home using tin cans or coconut shells - just make sure you do any cutting for them! Alternatively, you can buy build-your-own birdhouse kits that come with their own feeder. For the feed, you'll want to mix equal parts suet and bird seed in a pan with whatever other ingredients you like until the fat becomes liquid. Take it off the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly before tipping it to the feeder to set. Put it outside and make sure to check back each day to see if there has been any activity.
Follow this guide and you'll be able to get the kids enthused about gardening. Not only that, you can use it as a chance to teach them all about plants, birds, and the environment. Let us know in the comments if you decide to try any of our ideas this week!