My son just turned two, and playing in the dirt has always been one of his favorite activities. I decided it was time for my (almost) 2 year old to put his dirt playing skills to good use and have a little lesson in gardening. The best part? It turns out that he is a great garden assistant, and I love that he is cultivating an appreciation for plants and creatures at such a young age! Here are our tips to making gardening with toddlers fun and educational.
1. Toddler-Sized Garden Tools: Kids want to have tools that look just like yours. We grabbed the Kids Hand Tool Set, complete with a trowel, rake, and shovel that are the perfect size for his chubby little paws. We also picked up a miniature watering can that is not too heavy for Maxwell to hold even when it is full of water. Also, the Kids Red Wheelbarrow is a huge hit for moving lots of dirt (or tools or trucks or rocks) from location to location.
2. Make a spot in the garden just for your toddler: It can be a dedicated section of your garden or even one small planter box. Find a spot in your yard where your toddler is free to dig in the dirt as much as he or she wants, and keep their tools nearby.
3. Plant a few veggies in pots: Like I said above, my son loves to dig in the dirt, which is a great skill, but he is not always so gentle with newly planted plants or seedlings. This is why I like to have a dedicated dirt plowing and digging section for Maxwell; I also have a few potted plants for him to tend and grow. We used the blue and green pots and the pea, carrot, and radish seeds for planting. We also bought an extra set of the pots to keep in the dedicated digging section of the garden so that he can fill them up with dirt and dump them out to his heart’s content. (It also ensures that the potted veggies stay safe).
4. Give age-appropriate tasks: Maxwell just turned two and loves for me to give him jobs. Maxwell’s garden jobs include things like filling up dedicated pots with dirt or watering certain plants, or even finding doodle bugs or earthworms. When we actually planted the seeds, he loved picking out the seeds and digging the tiny hole with his finger, and then covering the seeds with dirt. You know your child best, so start out with small tasks and give more complicated gardening tasks as you see fit.
5. Have fun and get dirty: Gardening is a dirty task, so don’t worry if your little one gets dirt everywhere! I usually take Max straight to the sink for a quick rinse after gardening, or if it’s warm enough out, just use the hose!