Luring the little ones away from their TV screens and into the glorious outdoors can often prove a little tricky. But it is possible with a little effort and imagination. From planting seeds to creating fairy gardens, here are some of the best things to do with young children in the garden, as recommended by gransnetters.
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1. Planting seeds and picking vegetables
Getting the grandkids to grow food can spark a lifelong love of homegrown fruit and veg. Whether it's a juicy tomato straight off the vine or fresh herbs they can sprinkle over their pasta - they're learning life skills and laying the ground for a healthy diet - all while spending time in the great outdoors.
"Last year, my grandson grew a trough of mixed salad leaves. He enjoyed selecting which colours he wanted to go in his sandwiches and would then eat them, though he's not fond of lettuce. This summer will be more of the same, plus an outdoor cucumber plant, which will be something I've never tried growing before - so old and young will be learning together!"
"We plant sunflowers and runner beans with our grandson, and have the added plus of seeing how tall the flowers will reach. The fact that the beans grow quickly and he can eat them (he eats them raw as a snack!) is all it needs to get him into the garden to check on their progress."
Gardens can be truly magical places for children and you can help encourage this by setting up solar fairy lights, building a tree house or just popping a tent outdoors. Planting so there are plenty of shrubs for hide and seek or creating a winding path can all add to the excitement.
"Our grandchildren have made a secret passage at the end of the garden and have great fun there building camps and exploring. We are sometimes invited to join them."
Not everyone has access to large amounts of outside space, but with a bit of imagination, you can still find a way to garden even with a small patio or balcony.
"When I was a small child with no access to a garden, I used to love making miniature gardens, usually in old biscuit tins. Later, I did this with my own children - we made a garden of little alpines and ground cover plants in an old washing up bowl. This is great for children living in flats who don't get a chance to grow things otherwise."
"I once made a fairy garden with my granddaughter and she loved tidying it and arranging all the fairy things. We made a table using acorns as legs and she was a bit worried that the squirrel might steal it."
It doesn't have to be all about plants either, you can even use it as an opportunity to teach little ones about garden visitors as one gransnetter does:
"I love making 'tray gardens' with the little ones. Often mine add their own spiders, beetles, bugs and even the odd dinosaur! Wonderful for making up stories."
Mud is a brilliant resource (even if it is much maligned!) and getting muddy can give children a chance to get really creative. Grown ups can join in too, just pick a suitable part of the garden, pop your wellies on and get playing with the grandkids - just make sure they're dressed appropriately!
"My two grandchildren love being covered from head-to-toe in mud. Recently, they had a fantastic time sliding down a muddy bank on their tummies, though on that occasion suitably dressed in waterproofs, thanks to my daughter-in-law's forethought."
"Children love making wormeries. You can buy a cheap kit or make your own."
Spotty Green Frog do a lovely children's wormery kit.
You can also build a flower bed with your grandchildren, a great way for you to get active together.
"I've bought my granddaughter a lovely bee watering can and created her own little space for her flowers. I also pretend they are smiling when they see her and make her listen out for their squeals of joy."
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Children love to feel useful and it's surprising how helpful they can be doing little jobs in the garden - win-win!
"Our little grandson loves putting on grandad's oversized (for his little hands) gardening gloves and granny's gardening clogs (also way too big, of course) and 'helping' in the garden."
"The greenhouse, vegetable patch and flower beds are great for little helper time. We love watching the bees on my lavender border. My granddaughter is fascinated watching them visit the flowers."
There are so many outdoor games and many - like croquet or boules - are great fun and easy on arthiritic knees.
"Nothing entertains my grandchildren more than rooting around in the garden with jam jars, collecting 'bugs'. They find the most amazing wildlife that I didn't even know was there!"
"My grandchildren just love using bug boxes with magnifying lids to look closely at small garden creatures. After looking, they carefully release them back to the place where they were found."
Get the grandkids to use their garden finds to make cards for all the family - a lovely way to get back to nature and create a memento of your time together.
"Collect natural things when the children are out (leaves, little interesting stones, feathers) and then make things with them once they get home. We make pictures, cards, decorate jars...it keeps them on a mission when they are out and gives them something to do at home later."
"My granddaughter aged 10 and her brother aged seven discovered newts in my pond and spent days doing a project, which included a fact file, drawings and stories."
Find more gardening ideas here.