The amount of time children spend in front of screens has tripled in the last four years, leading many families to make a conscious effort to get outside more. Creating a family garden is a great way to get your kids outside and involved in the natural environment, as well as making a space to encourage wildlife and nature. From learning about insects and bugs to introducing the idea of growing your own food, there’s so much that gardening can teach – as well as providing the chance to play outside and get a bit dirty. Here’s how to spend more time outdoors as a family.
Picking your plants
If you’re looking for some inspiration about what to plant this year, do some research on wildlife and child-friendly options. Plants which are easy to grow and provide habitat or food for insects, birds, and other animals are a great choice – but check that they are not poisonous for children or pets. Sturdy bushes and shrubs are great for bordering the lawn, as they stand up well to any rough-and-tumble and often provide tasty berries for birds and small mammals.
What’s on the table
Getting kids interested in growing their own food helps to teach qualities like patience, responsibility, and care for others – as well as the values of sustainable living and the real value of food beyond its price in the supermarket. Homegrown veggies are often much more tasty too, so might help to encourage picky eaters. Peas and beans are really easy to grow and will produce several crops through the summer, making plenty of tasty snacks and meals. Sunflowers are another favorite: kids love to see how tall theirs grows, and the seed heads are great for wildlife too.
Give nature a hand
Adding more wildlife-friendly features to your garden can make great projects for your family. A log pile, bird box, or insect hotel are fun and easy weekend activities which will get your kids interested in nature and working with their hands. Including a garden water feature such as a fountain or pond is an excellent idea too, attracting birds, dragonflies, and frogs. What child wouldn’t love to see frogspawn grow into tadpoles? Just make sure it is adequately fenced off so no accidents can occur if your kids are unsupervised at times.
Encouraging your children to put down the tablets and head out into the garden may be tricky at first. However, getting them involved in growing their own food and making space for wildlife can be really rewarding, and help to instill some important life qualities and values at the same time.
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