Submitted by mapleshade on

Gardening isn't just for Nana and Pop Pop; it's a great activity for the entire family. And Rutgers' New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station has come up with a variety of ways for children of all ages to dig in with family.


  • While toddlers can't help with many garden chores, the garden is a wonderful place for sensory play!
  • Have toddlers feel the different textures in a garden: fuzzy lamb's ear, hairy pumpkin stems, and the smooth skin of a cherry tomato.
  • Smell different herbs like cilantro, mint and basil.
  • Listen for the calls of birds, the buzzing of bees and the tinkle of wind chimes.
  • Set up a special digging area so kids can get their hands dirty too!
  • Narrate what you are doing in the garden to help build your child's vocabulary.

Preschoolers: 3 to 5 years old

  • You may think preschoolers are too young for the garden, but these inquisitive minds will have a blast outside. Because of their curiosity, be prepared to answer many questions!
  • Fill seedling trays with potting soil.
  • Dig holes for seeds and transplants.
  • With adult help, harvest produce and flowers from the garden.
  • Water plants.

Elementary School: 6 to 9 years old

  • Gardening is an excellent way to reinforce the knowledge kids acquire at school, such as counting, colors and even science. You can explore concepts, such as photosynthesis and cause and effect.
  • Have kids start seedlings on their own. (This is a bonus responsibility-learning activity!)
  • We recommend using a cardboard egg carton or toilet paper roll for earth-friendly seeds starters.
  • Help pick flowers, fruits and veggies.
  • Make the garden into a source of STEAM activities by having kids collect, press and catalog the flowers and leaves they grow and find in the garden.
  • Have kids measure the distance between plants when sowing seeds or transplanting.

We've provided recommended reading for the garden — books of gardening projects perfect for kids, and picture books that are fitting for reading in the garden.