Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids

"Think back.  Can you remember a natural, outdoor space that held some magic for you?"

Thus starts the book I recently read, instantly taking me back to that hidden, magic hollow in the forest behind our house where we played so often as kids.

The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids: 101 Ways to Get Kids Outside, Dirty, and Having Fun by Whitney Cohen and John Fisher not only takes you back to your childhood, but it is an absolute treasure trove of inspiration for things to do in the garden with your children or grandchildren.  It give a lot of recommendations for how to involve kids in gardening in ways that are both educational and just plain fun! 

Oftentimes, all kids need to have fun in the garden is a pile of dirt and some water!
The book covers everything from planning different themed gardens to interacting with animals in the garden to even cooking with one's harvest.

My kids are much more likely to eat the produce that they picked from the garden!
(Well, except for that jalapeño...)
The authors give a lot of advice about making gardens child-friendly and about how to give your child positive experiences with gardening and nature, planting seeds that may mature into a long-lasting relationship.  Peppered throughout the book are many projects for kids in the garden, some of which I can't wait to do with my kids!

my daughter's wildflower garden
The only criticism I have of the book is that it could possibly have been organized a little better - I am not a very organized thinker, so I like my books to be very organized for me :)  There are points where the insertion of projects seems to interrupt the flow of narration.  However, aside from that, I really enjoyed this book and learned a few things as well!  

releasing a Black Swallowtail after it has emerged from its chrysalis
It is important to me to plant seeds of positive experiences with nature in my kids, and this book gives so many great ways to do just that.  I think my love of the outdoors and my love of gardening stem from so many great memories I have as a kid being outside.  

Growing up in Alaska, you might think that I would remember the snow and ice the most.  On the contrary, what I remember most vividly are the buttercups, bluebells, fireweed and roses that grew wild among the forest, the irises and the profusion of wildflowers that my mother grew, the little garden that my father made me out of a old tire - 

and, of course, that magic hollow in the forest that was always adorned with reindeer moss and imagination.

Black Swallowtail on zinnia
What about you?  If you love gardening, do you think it stems from your memories of the outdoors as a kid?

For more reviews of gardening books, check out the site Roses and Other Gardening Joys.


  1. I have a co-worker that has a girl scout troop that she spends time with at one of the local community gardens. I'm going to recommend the book to her.

  2. I will check out this book! Looks like a lot of good ideas I could use with my JMG group! Thanks for sharing!

  3. What a great book! And I love the pictures of your children, showing the various things they do outside. As a generalization, I think children don't play outside as much as in generations past. I think this would be a wonderful way for people to get them outside, into the sunshine and fresh air. Getting dirty should be fun, and a required part of growing up! I know a few moms that would love this book! Thanks so much for joining in.

  4. I do think my love of gardening was born out of my experiences with nature as a child. Although I also live in a completely different climate now than I did as a child, I find that my childhood memories still give me direction when I work in my garden. I've spent a lot of time and effort on creating a private spot in my yard to mimic the privacy I found as a child.

    I've got a 4-year-old daughter too so I will definitely check out this book. Thanks for the book review!

  5. That seems like a perfect book to teach kids about nature. My mother was a gardener, but I was not really interested in gardening. I was, however, very interested in nature and spent a lot of time outdoors. And my mother was instrumental in nudging us to spend time outdoors...that helped a lot.

  6. Absolutely it does...playing outside, digging in the dirt, smelling the flowers and picking the fruits and veggies...oh and climbing trees, playing in the creek and making forts int he woods...yep that's why I love gardening and nature. Sounds like a great book.

  7. Thank you for sharing this book with us. You're right - looking back my memories are almost all of being outside... of building a pond and making perfume with rose petals and picking and eating food.... the sneaky raspberry... a pod of peas... the odd leaf of mint. I was reminded of this recently when I saw one of my children grazing on a handful of chives.... not to everyone's taste, but each to their own!

  8. How wonderful are your child memories! Of course you remember all the bright things you were amazed.

  9. Awww, cute! That brings back so many sweet memories for me. :)

  10. I spent a lot of time outside with my children but wondered whether they would continue the interest as adults. They have and I'm delighted. Now I will get this book so I have fun things planned for my grandchild. The images of your childhood were lovely.

  11. My childhood torture was to be dragged round yet another garden centre with what appeared at the time to be my parents strange obsession with conifers.
    Not quite sure if that's where my passion for gardening stems. No chance of female offspring following in my footstep...bugs n' dirt just aren't her thing! Male offspring is being 'worked' on x

  12. Children need this! Recently I was shocked when a 5 year old visitor to my home was completely uninterested in the gardens. All those paths to explore, but he quickly turned back and asked to watch television. He did not know what our hummingbird feeder was, nor had he ever heard of a hummingbird!

  13. This was very apt without me knowing it, as this week is Take a Child Outside Week. My kids have been 'helping' me out in the garden quite a lot for the past few days. It is so cute to see them when we discover worms and other interesting things in the garden. I certainly hope they continue loving the outdoors!


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