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Pull Up a Seat in the Garden

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We are fully into the summer months and for many families that means flowers, vegetables, and herbs may be growing and getting harvested in your own gardens.  While you as a parent may love fruits and vegetables, it can sometimes be a struggle to teach our children that same love and appreciation especially when they struggle with food.

We want to talk about gardening as the therapeutic table we can set for our kids be it in the summer or even all year long.  Here are some helpful tips and ways to engage your kids even if you yourself are a novice gardener.

1. Plant something that encourages them to interact and touch:

Just the act of touching dirt and seeds can be a wonderful sensory experience for kids.  You can use spoons and shovels if your child has difficulty getting their hands dirty.  This is also a great time to help them learn strategies like brushing off their hands or wiping their hands off on a dry rag.  Talking about how foods grow and reading books on plants can engage their imagination and wonder around food.

These vegetables are easy to start indoors and can be transferred outside as well.  They are fast-growing and are wonderful to eat as microgreens (sprouts that are 2-3 inches tall) so you don’t have to wait a long time to use them in foods or let your children just explore them as they sprout:

Here are some easy planting videos and ways to start indoor plants with kids

Here are some books on planting and how plants grow:  

2. Plant something that encourages them to smell

Herbs are that do really well indoors and can be grown all year long or transferred to pots or into the ground in the summer. Some of our favorites to grow include:

These herbs are great for kids that are still learning about taste and may get too worried if they are encouraged to taste something they are not yet ready for.  Herbs are wonderful for smelling and then adding into foods.  You can grow these herbs, encourage your child to pick them, smell them and then help you wash and add them into meals you are cooking.  When cooking with these herbs you can once again just encourage smelling and talking about what smells fill the kitchen.  These are also great for drying and can be harvested and hung indoors for drying. Once dry, you and your child can interact and touch the herbs and explore the differences between the fresh and dry herbs.

3. Plants that can encourage them to taste:

One of the wonderful parts of gardening is exploring the taste of fruits and vegetables as they ripen.  These plants do best outdoors and can easily be harvested by your Child and washed off and explored right outside. Here are great plants that kids can taste and eat right from the plant:

Here are some easy ideas that bring the tasting kitchen to your garden:

Remember to keep it fun and praise whatever learning your child is able to do, even if it’s biting and spitting out.

Here are some fun kits to help you get started:

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