There are few experiences that rival a day playing in the dirt, especially when you’re a kid. And while there’s much to be learned from free play in the garden, kids can develop additional physical and mental skills by focusing on special projects in the great outdoors.
My fellow blogger Tessa Zundel of HobbyFarms.com’s “Farm Sprouts” has scores of awesome ideas for entertaining and engaging kids on the farm and in the garden, but there are also lots of great books out there that feature creative outdoor fun for your little ones.
Today, I’d like to tell you about a few of my favorite gardening books for kids. They’re chock full of fun stories, as well as plenty of ideas for unique, hands-on projects. Pick one up from a book seller or your local library before spring arrives, and you’ll have lots of ideas at-the-ready for all the busy little hands on your farm.
Roots, Shoots Buckets, and Boots
By Sharon Lovejoy
This super-fun little book is filled with whimsical illustrations both kids and adults will appreciate. Lovejoy features 12 easy-to-create themed garden projects, including a pizza garden and a sunflower house that are perfect for preschoolers and other youngsters. She hands you all the information you need to successfully grow these gardens with your kiddos, including plans, planting lists and resources. I love all of. Lovejoy’s books about gardening with kids; two of her other titles are Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars: Grandma’s Bag of Tricks and the ever-enchanting Sunflower Houses.
Gardening Lab for Kids: 52 Fun Experiments to Learn, Grow, Harvest, Make, Play and Enjoy Your Garden
By Renata Fossen Brown
This spiral-bound book is designed for elementary-aged kids. The collection of projects provides equal parts education and entertainment. Bursting with informational tidbits, the book is a great guide for young gardeners interested in learning while they play. With lessons in ecology and botany, as well as nature-themed art projects, teachers will appreciate this one, too.
Grow Gardeners: Kid-tested Gardening with Children
By Steven and Emma Biggs
Written by a father-daughter team, this book encourages parents to garden side-by-side with their kids. It introduces a four-step approach—play, explore, collect and grow—aimed at piquing a child’s natural curiosity. Colorfully illustrated by the 9-year-old co-author, the book is a great way to encourage kids to step away from the electronics and into the garden. Available only via the book’s website.
Garden to Table: A Kid’s Guide to Planting, Growing, and Preparing Food
By Katherine Hengel
Targeted to kids in grades 4 through 7, this clever book not only teaches you how to grow six different delicious vegetables, but it also offers you ways to prepare them in the kitchen. The 30 featured recipes, including basil cake and oven fries, use garden-fresh ingredients to create appealing dishes the whole family will enjoy. With colorful photography and easy-to-read text, this book connects the botanical world to the culinary one in a delicious, kid-friendly fashion.