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Plant a Child-Size Garden

with Your Green-Thumb Little One!

Highlights 4Cs

Curious, Creative, Caring, and Confident™
The light bulb icon represents curiosity. For content about raising a curious child, look for this icon.
The paint brush icon represents creativity. For content about raising a creative child, look for this icon.
The holding hands icon represents caring. For content about raising a caring child, look for this icon.
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Prepare the soil, scatter some seeds, remember to water, and watch what grows!
Plant a Child-Size Garden
Go green this summer. And take your kid with you. In just a few weeks, you’ll see blooms and veggies that will make you both proud.
1. Plant this: Herbs (including parsley, chives, oregano, thyme, and rosemary)

Where: Indoors, in pots, on a bright, sunny windowsill

With your: Two- to three-year-old

When: All year long—which is great because you can plant these herbs when your child is motivated and interested

Total time: Less than an hour to plant, then water as needed

Good for: Sequencing, fine motor skills development, counting practice (seeds, pots, rocks, and so forth)

You’ll need: Potting mix, a small trowel, a watering can, small pots or a window box (with holes on bottom), and seeds (give your child some options)

What to do: Line the base of the container with stones (for drainage). Add about one-half inch of potting mix; smooth out top. Fill the container with one-half inch of potting mix; smooth out soil. Let your assistant gardener sprinkle seeds into the container and cover lightly with potting mix as indicated on package instructions.

What to do next: Help your child place the plant(s) near a light source and water herbs as directed. It’s a great way to boost interest in life cycles.

Hot tip: Container size matters. But don’t overwhelm your little one with those details. Instead, use words like wet, dry, big, small, tall, short, etc.—totally relevant vocabulary builders.

Bonus move: Slip in a confidence booster. Each time you use your homegrown herbs in a recipe, remind your child that her hard work made it possible!

2. Plant this: Flowers, such as marigolds (super easy to grow) and impatiens (also easy!)

Where: Outdoors, in pots

With your: Three- to four-year-old

When: Spring or summer

Total time: About an hour to plant, depending on the number of plants, and minutes to water on a regular schedule

Good for: Following multi-step directions, fine motor skills, color recognition, decision making (“Should we plant small marigolds or large ones?”)

You’ll need: An old pot, a tin pail, a bucket, or tub (all with holes for drainage); soil; seeds; fertilizer; watering can

What to do: Let your child help fill the pot with soil, fertilizer, and seeds, and then water as directed for container gardening.

What to do next: Marigolds thrive in full sun and hot weather, so enjoy them on a porch or patio all summer. Bring some of your mature blooms indoors and make a floral arrangement.

Hot tip: Water marigolds at base of the plant—not directly on top of the blooms.

What kids gain: Patience; a sense of responsibility; a chance to see cause and effect in action, as in “Hey, I watered the plant and it grew taller!”

Bonus move: Bring the best blooms indoors. Strip off foliage, hang plant upside down to dry out, and help your child create an even longer-lasting floral arrangement.

3. Plant this: Baby carrots

Where: Stone-free soil outdoors

With your: Five- to six-year-old

When: Best during the cooler end of the growing season, spring through fall. (Find your local frost dates here.)

Total time: Each planting session could last around an hour.

Good for: Fine and gross motor skills,planning,sorting, counting, hand-eye coordination, grouping (by color and purpose)

You’ll need: A shovel, hoe, watering can, seeds, gardening gloves, and preferably loose, sandy soil

What to do: Sow, mulch, and water according to package directions.

What to do next: Water once a week; weed regularly.

Hot tip: Carrots grow from seeds and mature in two to four months, depending on the variety.

What kids gain: An understanding of follow-through and commitment, an edge in science-related topics, environmental awareness, and an appreciation for nature

Bonus move: Go bigger and better. Invite your elementary-school child to help you plan next year’s outdoor garden. Include beets, more carrots, tomatoes, peas, and radishes.

Which factor is most important to you when it comes to your child's classroom environment? Select one answer.

Parents Talk Back
Which factor is most important to you when it comes to your child's classroom environment? Select one answer.
She's with her friends.
9% (4 votes)
She's not with children who tease her.
20% (9 votes)
The teacher is creative.
70% (32 votes)
The teacher is demanding.
0% (0 votes)
She's grouped with the smartest kids in the grade.
2% (1 vote)
Total votes: 46