Planting seeds is an engaging way to celebrate Earth Day with your toddler! Stonyfield and High Mowing Organic Seeds have teamed for Earth Day, and as an ambassador for Stonyfield I have received sample seeds to try. All opinions are my own.
Living in the city, there is often a disconnect for kids between the food they eat and how it gets on their plate. You don’t typically see apples swaying in branches as you walk through Harvard Square or lush fields of bright red berries glimmering in the sunlight in Boston Common.
As the mom of a city child, I want Eve to understand how and where food grows.
Now that she is a toddler with an interest in the world around her, it is the perfect opportunity to start to instill that understanding. She’s at that age where you loves putting small objects into bags and containers and dumping them out, which means planting is a perfect activity to do with her.
Last week when the weather was nice we went outside to work on planting some seeds that High Mowing Organic Seeds sent us. Their seeds are both organic and non-GMO certified. Since having Eve, I’m become more aware of what I feed my family and I try to eat organic as much as possible. With High Mowing Organic Seeds, I feel more confident knowing that I am growing plants that have are of the highest standards.
I also love being able to eat fresh produce that we have grown ourselves. I hope that as Eve gets older it will give her a better understanding of where her food comes from and a greater appreciation for the Earth and taking care of it. We do that through recycling, buying clothes from consignment shops, and growing some of our own food.
Eventually once the seeds have grown the plants will move to larger raised-bed planters, but in the meantime I like to use recycled objects to start the seeds. I find that rinsed-out juice or milk containers or Stonyfield yogurt cups are the perfect size for starting your plants! (Yogurt containers also make for great scooping utensils for small hands!) You can also use cardboard egg cartons, which we also used for this project.
Even though I have planted seeds with my own daughter just a few times, I did it many times over the years when I led playgroups for toddlers. Here are some tips I have learned through the years about planting with your toddler.
Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty
First know that you and/or your child will get messy. Honestly, though, that’s half the fun! Make sure that you’re both wearing clothes that can easily be cleaned or are already messy, especially if you decide to make mud.
Gather everything you need before you get started
Once you are outside and have started getting messy, the last thing you want to have to do is get everyone cleaned so you can go back inside and grab what you forgot. (Of course, I still managed to forget something!)
- A tray to put everything on
- Planting containers
- Something to scoop the soil
- Masking tape and a writing utensil (for labeling the plants)
- Wipes or something with which you can clean your hands
Give your toddler something developmentally-appropriate tasks
Scooping and pouring dirt is the perfect activity for toddlers! Not only is something that the love to do naturally, but playing with the dirt is a fun sensory experience. (If you’re feeling really brave, you can also have them pour water into a smaller container of dirt so that they have some mud to play with!)
Some of the seeds were super tiny and too small for Eve’s fingers to grasp, but with the bigger ones I had her help me to put them in the containers. For older toddlers you have them pour the water in the containers when you are done planting the seeds.
Talk about what you are doing
Asking questions and using lots of language is really great for children’s brain development. Show them the seeds and pictures of the plants on the seed packets — explain to them that the seeds will grow into those plants. Talk about how just like they drink water plants need water to grow.
Label your plants
I recommend bringing masking tape and a marker so you can label the plants and you know what’s growing in each container. You can even tape a picture of the plant onto the container to help identify them later.
Enjoy the moment
When you are doing something that has the potential to get really messy it can be so easy to want to be tense about it or try to prevent the mess. If you go in with the mindset that things will get messy that it will be so much easier for you to relax and and for your and your child to enjoy the experience. Plus it’s really good for children to get messy and play with dirt!
Read toddler-friendly books about plants and gardening
Before and after you work on your garden, read some books together. Talk about what you did and ask questions “What did we plant?” “What do you think the plants will look like?” “How did the seeds feel?” “What colors were the seeds?”
Here are some of my favorites (please note these are affiliate links):
Do you garden with your child? How do you make it fun for them?