Children in the Garden

Jennifer Terrell, K-State Extension Agent



Children thrive when outdoors. It provides them the opportunity to observe, explore, and interact with their surroundings.


Like other forms of nature therapy, gardening decreases stress by increasing our connection to the natural world around us. It prompts kids to tune in to the changing seasons and weather conditions, teaches mindfulness and promotes physical activity and healthy eating. Add to that the development of confidence, a strong work ethic, and the ability to accept that some things are beyond our control, and it’s no surprise that growing things can result in a growth mindset!


Children can be involved in all stages of gardening from designing the garden space to tending the plants. What’s great about gardening is the ability to adapt how children help depending on their age and ability. A few gardening activities could include: germinating seeds, preparing soil, labeling plants, watering produce, pulling weeds, gathering produce, and tasting the produce.


While engaging in gardening activities, it is important to set limits with children. Talk with them about the difference between a weed or new plant growth. Discuss the importance of watering and caring for plants. For example, offer a watering can for young children to assist with watering duties.  Children need guidance to learn about their surroundings while having fun.


Don’t forget, gardening is a sensory experience. Call attention to the tactile feeling of the soil, the warmth of the sun, the sounds of the birds, the smell of the flowers, and the taste of fresh-picked produce. Each of these senses will be engaged while outdoors in the garden. Take advantage of these teachable moments to explore the world around them.


The hard work children put into the garden can be showcased at the local county fair as well. There are opportunities in both the open class and 4-H divisions to submit an exhibit. K-State Research and Extension has great resources to assist with learning more about gardening and selecting items for judging.


For more information, reach out to Jennifer Terrell, 4-H Youth Development Agent for K-State Research and Extension – Southwind District by email at [email protected] or by phone 620-223-3720.

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