Planting seeds is so much fun for kids that most won’t realize they’re not only playing in the dirt, they’re learning valuable lessons about nature, science and math. Even preschoolers get a huge kick out of the entire seed-planting process.
Growing plants from seed is generally easy, but the complexity of the seed starting process depends on the age and interest of the child. Here are a few simple ideas to get you started.
Clear plastic containers with snug lids allow pint-sized gardeners to view the process of germination close up. Instead of soil, fill the containers loosely with moist paper towels, then help the child plant two or three seeds such as beans, squash or peas
Alternatively, slightly older kids can plant seeds in clear plastic drinking glasses or glass jelly jars filled with potting soil.
Biodegradable Peat Pots
Gardeners of any age can plant seeds in biodegradable peat pots in early spring. Once the plants are established, transplant them into the garden, pot and all.
Whimsical eggheads are great fun for kids and once sprouted, the “pot” can be planted directly in the garden. Crack the egg, rinse the shell, then use a needle or ice pick to poke a drainage hole in the bottom. (Young kids may need a little help with this project.)
Place the shells in the egg carton to hold them steady and use a spoon to fill the shells with potting soil. Plant a couple of seeds in each one, according to directions on the seed packet. If they’re so inclined, older kids can use colorful markers to draw funny faces on the shells.
Juice Box Planters
Save empty juice boxes and turn them into colorful miniature planters. Because of their size, juice boxes are best for small plants like pansies. Otherwise, use the boxes as temporary containers and move plants into the garden before they get too big. Remember to poke a drainage hole in the bottom first.
Outdoor Seed Planting
Seed-starting ideas aren’t limited to indoor planting. If possible, allocate a small patch of space for a child’s very own vegetable or flower garden. As all gardeners know, planting your very own garden instills a powerful sense of satisfaction.
Sunflowers, radishes, lettuce, peas, pumpkins, bush beans and nasturtium are easy to plant directly in the garden and they’re rewarding because they grow so quickly. Older kids who have developed a little more patience enjoy planting slower-growing plants like corn, watermelon, carrots or potatoes.
Tips on Planting Seeds with Kids:
- A spray bottle is easy for small fingers to handle and helps prevent overwatering.
- Wooden Popsicle sticks or craft sticks are ideal plant markers. Help your child paint them with bright tempera first. When they’re dry, add name of the plant.
If you’re working with more than one child, be sure to write the child’s name on the pot with a permanent marker.