Easy Outdoor Gardening Activities For Kids

Learn to make the Strawbarrel Strawberry Planter.
Learn to make the Strawbarrel Strawberry Planter.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Gardening is fun, but it can be a challenge, too. Easy outdoor gardening activities for kids will introduce children to the rewards of growing plants in simplified environments, where success is easier to come by.

These activities also encourage an active interest in the natural world -- and what could be better for gardening than that?

Follow the links below to learn more about easy outdoor gardening activities for kids:

Grow Your Own Sprouts

Sprouts will spring from the soil with these simple steps.

Plant Buddies

Some plants don't need soil to grow, they just need the help of their fellow plants.

Wagon Planter

Show your flowers off around town with this easy outdoor gardening activity.

Strawbarrel Strawberry Planter

Strawberries taste all the sweeter when you grow your own.

Flower Scent Observations

Don't just stop and smell the roses -- investigate the scents of all the flowers you can find.

Seed-Scattering Experiment

How far will seeds fly? Conduct this easy outdoor gardening activity and discover the answer.

Keep reading to learn a healthy and yummy way to spice up your sandwiches and salads.

For more gardening crafts and activities, check out:

Grow Your Own Sprouts

It's easy and fun to grow your own sprouts to add flavor to salads and sandwiches. Just follow these simple steps.

What You'll Need:

  • Alfalfa seeds
  • Quart jar
  • Cheesecloth
  • Rubber band
  • Teaspoon

Step 1: Wash and dry the jar. Measure two teaspoons of alfalfa seeds into the jar. Fill the jar half-full of water.

Step 2: Cover the top with three layers of cheesecloth, holding the layers in place with a rubber band. Swirl the jar around to rinse all the seeds, and pour the water out through the cheesecloth.

Step 3: Place the jar in a warm, dry place, like a cupboard. The seeds should begin to sprout in a day or two.

Step 4: Each day, take the jar out, add more water, swirl to rinse the seeds, and pour the water out through the cheesecloth.

Step 5: When the sprouts are about two inches long, place the jar in a sunny window for a few days to green up. Keep rinsing the sprouts every day. After the sprouts have greened, put them in the refrigerator.

The next gardening activity will help you hone your powers of natural observation.

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Plant Buddies

The plant buddies activity reveals a fascinating truth about a section of the plant kingdom. Most plants just need some soil and a little sun to sprout. But there are special plants that don't need soil at all -- instead they rely on their plant buddies to help them grow.

If you'd like to learn more about these fascinating plants, it's easy -- just take a closer look at the trees.

What You'll Need:

  • Mossy tree
  • Your own powers of observation

When you're in a forest, look for plants that grow on trees. Scientists call these plants epiphytes. Their relationship is symbiotic, a scientific word that means "living together."

Moss is an epiphyte. Look closely at moss growing on a tree.

Moss, a simple plant, does not have true roots, but tiny root-like structures help the plant cling to the side of the tree. Bits of dead bark collect and rot, providing nutrients for the moss.

You can also look for epiphytes other than moss. In some areas, licorice fern grows on oak tree limbs. Mistletoe, another epiphyte, is a parasite. Its roots bore into oaks and spruces and draw out moisture and sap.

On the next page, learn how to grow flowers in a wagon for a traveling garden.

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Wagon Planter

This wagon planter is proof that planting smaller gardens in creative places can be fun! Try growing flowers in a wagon planter for a cool garden on the go.

What You'll Need:

  • Red wagon
  • Soil
  • Bedding plants

Plant a red, white, and blue garden in your favorite little red wagon and you'll have a fun flowerbed -- you could even use it as a fourth of July float for a neighborhood parade.

Use simple bedding plants like petunias in bedding soil. Keep them watered, but not too wet. Before you know it, you'll have a beautiful garden on wheels.

Keep reading for another creative planter idea that makes the most of a small space.

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Strawbarrel Strawberry Planter

Make a strawbarrel strawberry planter.
Make a strawbarrel strawberry planter.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

A strawbarrel strawberry planter will grow delicious berries in a diminutive space.

What You'll Need:

  • Large planting pot
  • Potting soil
  • Strawberry starts
  • Water

Even if you don't have room for a garden, you probably have room for a strawbarrel.

Step 1: Fill a large half-barrel or outdoor planter with good, rich garden soil or potting soil.

Step 2: Plant six strawberry starts (which you can buy at any garden store) in the soil.

Step 3: Make certain to water your berry plants every day, keeping the soil damp but not soaking wet. Also make sure your berries get at least six hours of sunlight a day.

Before you know it, you'll be enjoying strawberries you grew yourself -- even if you live downtown!

Keep reading to learn about a gardening activity that will leave you smelling sweet.

For more gardening crafts and activities, check out:

Flower Scent Observation

Through flower scent observation, you'll learn that every flower has a scent, though it may be hard to notice. That challenge is just part of the fun when you try your hand at flower scent observation.

What You'll Need:

  • Flowers of various kinds

Scent is one way for flowers to attract insects, which have keen senses of smell. Strongly scented flowers like lavender, roses, and lilies need their powerful smells to attract insects.

Flowers pollinated by hummingbirds don't have scents, since birds don't have a good sense of smell. But do these flowers have any odor at all?

Get permission to go through the yard and collect several types of open flowers. Do they have scents? Some will have a strong, obvious odor, but others will have little or no odor.

Take the flowers that don't have much smell and crush them in your hand -- see if that helps you smell them. Next, close your eyes and have a friend hold crushed flowers under your nose. Can you identify flowers by smell alone?

The scent of a flower can travel long distances on the wind -- and so can the seeds of other plants. Keep reading for an activity that shows just how far a little seed can go.

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Seed-Scattering Experiment

Try this seed-scattering experiment to see how far some plants will travel to grow.

What You'll Need:

  • Wind-dispersed seeds (maple, elm, dandelion, thistle)
  • Access to a second-story window
  • Sticks (optional)

This activity works best in the fall, when wind-blown seeds are most available.

Step 1: Collect some wind-blown seeds. Look for seeds with wings, such as maple and elm, or with downy parachutes, like the dandelion or thistle. These seeds are built so that the wind will scatter them far from their parent plant.

Step 2: Have a friend stand carefully near an open window on the second floor of a home and toss a handful of winged seeds toward the ground.

Step 3: Watch them to see how far they sail. If possible, mark the furthest seed with a tall stick. Note also how the seeds land. Do they fall flat, or do they spin so fast that they drill themselves into the ground?

Step 4: Now have your partner drop dandelion or thistle seeds. (Make sure they are separated from one another first.) Do they drop to the ground, or do they float for miles? Can you mark the farthest one?

Try this activity on a breezy day and a still day to compare how far the seeds spread.

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ABOUT THE ACTIVITY DESIGNERS:

The following activities were written by Maria Birmingham, Karen E. Bledsoe, and Kelly Milner Halls:

Grow Your Own SproutsPlant BuddiesWagon PlanterStrawbarrel Strawberry PlanterFlower Scent ObservationSeed-Scattering Experiment