Gardening with Kids

gardening

Spring is the perfect time to teach kids about how plants grow. Even if the ground outside is still frozen, there are fun things you can grow inside. Try one or more of these fun gardening experiments for fun and learning!

Beans in CD cases:

Recycle a clear CD jewel case to grow beans and teach kids about the parts of the plant. With the empty case hinge side up, add some potting soil, filling about one-third of the case. “Plant” a bean concave side down (like the letter “n”) on top of the soil and let the kids water with a dropper by adding drops of water into the hole at the top of the CD case. Stand the “planter” upright in a sunny window and kids will be able to clearly see the roots reaching down into the soil as the plant grows out of the bean.

Flower bulbs:

Paper whites and daffodils are favorite early spring plants, and growing flowers from bulbs is a great science experiment. Use any see-through container as a vessel, from plastic cup to a clear glass or vase. Add rocks or marbles to the bottom of your container and place the bulb on top, root side down. Fill with just enough water to cover the bottom of the bulb. Observe the bulb as it grows roots and eventually a flower! Bonus lesson: Cut open an extra bulb so that kids can see the inside of this plant powerhouse.

Colored Carnations or Celery:

Fill a vase or glass with water and tint the water with food color. Place a white carnation or celery stalk inside and watch the plant become colorful as it “drinks” the tinted water. This is a great, short experiment to show how plants take in water.

Root Vegetables:

Ever wonder how root veggies form under the ground? You can see for yourself– and show the kids– by planting root vegetables in a clear container. Clear Mason jars are perfect for this, but a clear vase or other container works just as well. First, fill the bottom of your container with pebbles, marbles or gravel to allow for drainage. Then, add potting soil. Plant any root vegetable seeds, several per jar. Try carrots, onions, radishes or turnips. Keep the soil moist and enjoy watching the root form. Best of all, when the vegetable is done growing, you can eat it!

Grow a Carrot Top:

This is a fun way to see a plant grow, but it will not produce an edible carrot. You can use an end of a carrot from your veggie scraps, or buy a whole carrot with the green fronds still attached for this experiment. Cut off the carrot near the plant end, leaving an inch or two of root. (Remember, the root is the edible part of the carrot, so you’ll want to cut your carrot near the wide end, leaving the part where the green leaves attach for growing.) Place several cotton balls on a plate or shallow dish and add water until the cotton is moist. Place the carrot top on the wet cotton, orange side down. Help the kids check and add water as needed. The green plant will sprout within a few days.

Sunflowers:

Sunflower seeds sprout and grow quickly, making this the perfect flower for impatient children. These seeds can be started just about anywhere, even in a Styrofoam coffee cup. Kids love seeing the plant push its way out of the soil, wearing the seed husk like a hat! Transplant your plant to a flowerpot after sprouting to observe the flower as it forms.

Grass basket:

Grass is another seed that grows quickly. Make a living basket by lining a basket in plastic and filling with potting soil. Scatter grass seed on top and lightly mist with water daily. The kids will love using a spray bottle! This makes a perfect spring table centerpiece filled with green, living grass!

Try any of these inexpensive garden experiments for a fun project. Growing plants is a great way to sneak some learning—and a little sunshine—into your daily routine.

By Tiffany Doerr Guerzon, freelance writer and mother of three.

Posted in Featured Articles


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  1. Marian T. Zinicola AKA “Marty the Psychic”

    April 29
    April 29, 2017  |  12:00 am - 11:59 pm
    Garibaldi-Meucci Museum
    Marty, a native Staten Islander of Italian descent, will discuss her new book, “Soul Bonding.”
  2. Movies Under the Stars: Doctor Strange

    April 29 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
    April 29, 2017  |  7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
    Clove Lakes Park
    Join NYC Parks and the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment for a free film. Know Before You Go You should arrive before 7:00 p.m. to get your spot. Feel free to bring a blanket to sit
  3. The World’s Largest Game of Musical Chairs

    April 30 @ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
    April 30, 2017  |  9:00 am - 5:00 pm
    South Beach
    This is an all borough event. We’re getting together at the South Beach Boardwalk to break The Guinness World’s record & raise funds to promote awareness for Protecting One Young Heart at a Time in memory of Frank J. Reali
  4. NYRR Open Run

    April 30 @ 9:00 am
    April 30, 2017  |  9:00 am - 9:00 am
    Conference House Park
    Join New York Road Runners for free weekly runs in your neighborhood! Open to all ages and experience levels. Walkers, strollers, and dogs on leash are welcome. Cost: Free, no advance registration required. Sign up here.
  5. Nature Photography

    April 30 @ 11:00 am
    April 30, 2017  |  11:00 am - 11:00 am
    Silver Lake Park
    Bring your camera and get inspired by the powerful images of nature in winter. Registration Required: www.nyc.gov/parks/rangers/register On Wednesday, April 19th
  6. Kayak Tour

    April 30 @ 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
    April 30, 2017  |  11:00 am - 2:00 pm
    Freshkills Park
    Join Freshkills Park staff and Kayak Staten Island for a kayaking experience like no other! This excursion along the park’s waterways will take you into the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge and up close to some of the park’s varied
  7. Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day

    April 30 @ 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    April 30, 2017  |  12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    Alice Austen House Museum
    Join in a global event! Take your own pinhole photos on the museum’s grounds and process them in our pop-up darkroom. First exposure free; $5 per additional exposure.
  8. Farm Day & Shear Madness

    April 30 @ 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    April 30, 2017  |  12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Staten Island Zoo
    It’s hard work running a farm, especially with all the animals that need attention! And spring is sheep shearing time, removing the heavy winter coats from our flock at the Children’s Center! Professional sheep shearers will demonstrate how the wool
  9. Puzzles

    April 30 @ 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    April 30, 2017  |  1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    SI Children's Museum
    Arts Vocabulary; create your own jigsaw puzzle.
  10. Animal Time

    April 30 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    April 30, 2017  |  2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    SI Children's Museum
    Join us for this daily program and meet one of the animals from our living collection. Check the white board at the museum for details.