University of Florida

The Neighborhood Gardener –
Keeping Kids Busy Over Summer Break

Now that summer is here, keep kids busy outdoors with some of these fun projects.  Gardening can be fun for the whole family, and there are plenty of projects you can do with your kids that will instill a love for gardening and the outdoors.

First things first: make your yard safe and fun for kids

One of the best ways to keep kids safe outdoors is to create designated play areas in your landscape to keep children away from plants and equipment that could harm them.  Read more about outdoor safety for kids

On to the projects! 

Kids love to get dirty, so create some opportunities for them to do that. 

  • Plant seeds. Children love watching the little plants grow into beautiful flowers and tasty vegetables.
  • Invite butterflies to your garden. Butterfly gardens are always a big hit with kids. As you choose plants together, you can teach them about larval and nectar plants, and talk about the benefits of insects. Later you'll watch butterflies flock to the flowers. See Butterfly Gardening in Florida for more information. 
  • Build a birdfeeder or create a toadhouse. Kids like feeling handy and will get a kick out of watching for creatures that take advantage of their handiwork.
  • Make a fort or hideout.  They provide kids with the perfect place to play in the yard and create their own magical adventures.
  • Build a vine teepee together for them to use as a fort.
  • Scout for insects.  Most kids love learning about creepy crawlies, so teaching those that are old enough to scout for insects can be a fun summer activity.
  • Build a tree house (the right way).  Tree houses are a lot of fun for kids, but built incorrectly, they aren't much fun for the tree. Driving nails and bolts into a tree can damage it, and tying chains or ropes around branches may eventually cut off growth. Instead, build an unattached, free-standing tree house from the ground up for a tree-friendly play area at leaf level. Ropes, ladders, and bridges can connect the tree house to the tree for maximum enjoyment of the tree's canopy.
  • Organize a nature scavenger hunt. Use items such as pine cones, certain shaped leaves, certain colored flowers, etc.—whatever is available in your yard or nearby park.

Check out these Gardening in a Minute radio spots for more information on each topic. 

 

 

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