Spending time in the garden with your children this Easter

When the kids have time off from school parents inevitably look for ways to keep them busy with activities, especially those which take them outdoors.  In this age of constant media bombardment, video games, and the like it is sometimes difficult for parents to get their kids to want to play outdoors.  They are looking for ways to engage their kids in outdoor activities like gardening and having them learn an appreciation for the natural world.  Parents remember the days when they were children and how much they enjoyed playing outside and especially the memories of gardening as a child; they want to share these memories and create new ones with their own children, while also teaching them to love gardens and to love gardening.  What better time to begin this process than on a break from school, maybe some fun outdoor Easter activities that may also include an introduction to gardening.  Gardening, after all, is more than just a way to save money by growing vegetables at home; it is also a miraculous, humbling, and sometimes even exhausting (in a good way) experience. 

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The activities involved in gardening are a way to connect with the Earth and they can be fun, especially when tailored for the interests of children.  Here are three gardening activities that are unique and will surely pique the interests of kids:

Since the spring coincides with Easter, the time off from school can be spent creating a sort of Easter garden, but in basket form.  

Kids are always excited to get their Easter basket filled with all kinds of goodies.  How much more excited would they be if they created their own living Easter basket that is then filled with all their favourite sweets and snacks.  This is one great way to introduce children to gardening, connecting kids with the outdoors, getting them exercise, and most importantly, creating lifelong memories.  

This is a simple project that only needs a basket (relatively shallow like a typical Easter basket), carrier bag, some garden or potting soil or mix, scissors, a fast growing grass seed like annual ryegrass seed, and a spray bottle.  The basket gets lined with the carrier bag, the soil is added (keeping the soil below the top edge of the basket and rather flat), the extra edges of bag are trimmed with the scissors (parents may want to do this task), the grass seed is sprinkled liberally over the entire surface (to make a very thick grass), and the spray bottle is used to water the entire surface of the soil. 

Lastly, the basket is placed near a sunny window or on a balcony or porch; having the kids spray the seeds with water every few days.  As the grass grows it can then be trimmed with the scissors (again, task for parental supervision), creating a very special little Easter garden of grass.

Eggs are a central element of most Easter activities with children so why not play games with eggs in the garden.  

One of the most obvious games is the egg-and-spoon race, but kids may have more fun playing egg catch (since they have the possibility of getting messy).  Kids love it when they are allowed to get messy, why not in the garden.  All that is needed is some eggs and maybe an apron.  Kids (and parents) need only stand about three steps apart and then begin to play catch.  

After successful throws and catches the kids can each take a step further apart and continue to toss the eggs back and forth.  The further apart the kids get the more challenging the game becomes until someone will inevitably miss the catch or drop the egg, at which time the kids will likely scream for joy as the egg drops and breaks open.

Another messy garden activity for parents, but a fun one for kids is making mud pies.  Parents are often astonished at how much joy their children experience squishing mud between their fingers.  

Parents need only choose a nicely designed patch of ground and use a spade or a trowel to dig and loosen the soil so it will make good mud.  Kids are given a little watering can, a washing up bottle, or a sprayer filled with water.  Provide them with child-sized hand shovels or just allow them to use their hands to dig holes and fill them with water.  

You may even want to dig a hole and place a small bowl filled with water to create what the child's imagination will interpret as a little pond.  Place some floating leaves or flowers in it to bring their imagination to life.

Parents can also let the kids use little plant pots to make mud castles and then use flowers to create imaginary flags, while using small stones to decorate the sides of the castles.  The mud pies can be made by giving the kids a bowl so they can create the pie with mud, leaves, grass and any other garden items that make the pie look delicious.