Spring is here and flowers are starting to pop up. It can sometimes appear magical as children watch stems get taller and buds open into beautiful flowers. Some children check every day when exploring the outdoors. Turn their fun into learning by planting with kids! Start by reading this book about what plants need to grow: Grow Happy. Then, we can help you get started with your garden!

Materials Needed For Planting With Kids

  • Vegetable, fruit, or flower seeds (organic if you prefer)
  • Small pots or biodegradable pots to start indoors
  • Potting Soil (organic is an option)
  • Shovel or big spoon (No need to buy anything new. You can use a sandbox shovel.)
  • Watering can or plastic pitcher full of water
  • Popsicle Sticks for labeling plants
  • Plastic or aluminum tray to catch excess water
  • A sunny spot in the house
  • Patience

Let’s Dig In!

Alright now before you begin, be prepared for dirt to be everywhere. Plan to do it outside so you aren’t anxious about the mess. We want this to be a fun experience for all!

Fill The Pots

Let kids scoop the soil into pots. Fill them about 3/4 of the way. Now you will need to wet the soil. So the soil isn’t overly saturated, use the hand over hand method to pour water onto the soil with your child. You want it to be moist but not muddy.

Pick Your Seeds

Show the children their choices of seeds and ask what they would like to plant. Pick as many packets as you have pots available.

Now, on the back of every seed packet it will tell you how deep to plant a seed under the top layer of soil. Often it is between 1/4 and 1 inch deep. If children need a ruler to reference have one available. Ask them to stick their finger down in the middle of the soil to make a small hole. Have them drop two seeds in the hole and cover it carefully with soil. It’s nice to put two seeds in, just in case one is a dud. In a 3-5 days, if you see two sprouts come up just pull the weaker looking one so the other has lots of room to grow its roots.

Lastly, pour just a little water on top to help the seed begin its growth! Be sure to label your plants right away so you don’t forget which one is which. Use a popsicle stick, tag, or sign that the kids can decorate.

Find The Perfect Spot

Ask the children, based on what they know plants need to grow, where the plants should go inside. It is not quite warm enough over night to leave the plants outside. You will be able to transfer them later in May when they are bigger and the night temps aren’t dipping low. Be sure to put a tray under the pots so excess water doesn’t ruin the surface they’re on. You can use a disposable, aluminum cooking tray or plastic serving tray you may have.

Make The Experience Educational!

Now part of planting with kids is making the fun educational as well. Print out or replicate this plant growth chart, one for each child. Remind the children to take care of their plant so it can grow strong enough to move outside. The seed is in soil and you found a sunny spot, but what else does the plant need to grow? Watering plants is a great first chore for young children. If you are worried they are going to over water, provide a spray bottle instead of a watering can.

Draw and mark the plants’ growth on the chart or create a picture book about it. Get out rulers to measure the growth. Can older kids do the math and see how much the plant grew? Ask questions each day to help the children learn to make observations. “Is the plant a different color than two days ago?” “What do you imagine the seed now looks like under the soil?” Offer a magnifying class for additional fun and exploration. If one plant hasn’t sprouted after the expected time mentioned on the seed packet, ask the children why. Can you carefully dissect it to see what happened to the seeds?

Enjoy the activity of planting with kids. I bet they will enjoy looking back and discussing the weeks long STEM activity. For additional planting fun make a homemade chia pet

About The Author

Kelsey Dickson has over 15 years of experience working with children as a nanny, preschool teacher, and now a mother. She has her degree in Early Childhood Education and works for Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny as the eLearning Manager. Check out our online childcare classes, such as Baby Sign Language and Sleep Coaching 101! In her free time she enjoys gardening with her son, going for walks with her husband and dog, and discovering local wineries in New England.