How do you keep kids coming back to the garden all season long? Make it fun and so it’s not a chore! I love to tell the benefits of bringing kids into the garden, because there are so many. But those benefits are only present if you make the gardening experience long-lasting and not a one time ordeal.
Here are 5 easy ways to keep them coming back for more in the garden:
- Kids are naturally attracted to dirt – so give them some of their own! Tell them, as I tell my kids, “you put in the time on tending to your garden, and I will put in the dime (or quarter or dollar or whatever!)”. This is a great way for kids to develop an entrepreneurial spirit – where they could run a “Garden Fresh Stand” and sell produce to you as the parent all summer or to other neighbors. Everyone will be healthier for it! (And money is always motivating to kids!)
- Give the kids a choice in what they want to plant. What do they love to eat? Chips and salsa? Spaghetti? Pizza? Salad? Even dessert (as my daughter would love). The first thing to have them grow is something that they love – whether its cucumbers that they can make into pickles or tomatoes they can make into salsa or strawberries they can turn into dessert.
- Make the garden their own. Help decorate the garden with kid-friendly garden markers, solar sunflowers or fireflies in jars. These are all fun things that naturally attract the kids back to the garden. An easy way to create garden markers is to utilize rocks and write with permanent markers or draw what the vegetable is. They look so cute in the soil.
- Kids need kid-sized tools. It’s hard to work with adult-sized tools, so its a must, if you want your kids to feel at home in the garden, to provide the appropriate garden gloves, kneelers, shovels and rakes, sun hats and watering cans. This would make the perfect gift for a future gardener at the end of the school year to kickstart their summer. Don’t forget the gardening bag and a good recipe book!
- Have a garden patch picnic! Each summer, my children request numerous times to “go on a picnic”. Kids don’t care if a picnic is in their own backyard – it’s eating outside and doing something different that is special. So, each month during the gardening season, celebrate the harvest by packing a garden patch picnic basket. The kids will love to get involved in this and they can help plan the menu! It will create memories to last a lifetime!
Garden Patch Picnic Pizza
Makes 12 Garden Patch Pizzas.
- 1 (16 ounce) loaf frozen 100% whole wheat bread dough, thawed
- 1/2 cup finely chopped cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
- 1/4 cup finely chopped broccoli
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cauliflower
- 4 tablespoons pizza sauce, divided
- 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, divided
- Spray a large knife with cooking spray and cut thawed loaf into 12 equal pieces. Flatten each piece into a disk and place into muffin cups pre-sprayed with cooking spray.
- Combine cherry tomatoes, green peppers, broccoli and cauliflower in a small bowl.
- Place 1 teaspoon of pizza sauce on dough in each muffin cup. Add one tablespoon of vegetable mixture to each muffin cup and top with a sprinkle of cheese.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden brown. Let rest in muffin cup 2 minutes before removing. Great for a snack or brunch!
Recipe adapted from a recipe found on www.hy-vee.com