Growing a vegetable garden is a wonderful family-friendly activity that is a great way to go green and teach kids about farm-to-table eating. Fifth grade is an ideal age to encourage kids to get involved in the family veggie garden, because planting, growing, and harvesting vegetables involves multiple steps and outdoor chores. Of course, parents mention chores, and tweens tend to groan, but when games and contests are incorporated, most 10-year-olds are in for the long haul. The trick to helping to develop a fifth grader’s green thumb and a lifelong appreciation for gardening is in the presentation. As Mary Poppins said, a spoonful of sugar really does help the medicine go down a bit smoother. So, when planning this family-wide project, keep these four fun vegetable garden games in mind.
Grow your name
Involving kids in the planning process of the vegetable garden is perfect for garnering interest. Designing the garden’s layout so kids and tweens can grow their own name is sure to keep interest in the family veggie garden high. To grow names, set aside a spot in the garden for kids to grow their names if the name is short. Do initials instead if there are a lot of kiddos involved. When planting, arrange the seed holes in the form of the necessary letters. Leaf lettuce or basil work well for growing names and initials. If the garden includes flowers like marigolds to keep away the bunnies, planting marigold seeds to spell names or initials is a nice touch, too. Another method kids will love when Halloween rolls around is to carve names into pumpkins when the fruit is the size of a melon. As the pumpkin grows, the skin will scar over, and as it grows, kids and tweens will have a cool name pumpkin for the fall festivities.
What shall we grow?
Deciding on what to grow in a veggie garden can be a difficult choice. Choosing vegetables kids eat is a no-brainer, but gardeners also need to take into account climate and soil. Have your fifth grader do research online to determine what vegetables are good picks for the climate. Then have everyone in the family write down the names of vegetables they want to grow. Toss all the slips of paper into a hat or basket, and have the youngest child in the family pull out the veggie names. How many you decide to use will depend upon the space available for the garden.
Garden designing contest
Gardens do have to be planned out, given the amount of space available and deciding where to plant what, since some vegetables may require more room. To get the kids and tweens excited about the upcoming veggie garden, invite each one to create his or her dream garden on a piece of construction paper. The entry should be colorful and include the veggies and or flowers each person wants to include. Keep the judging anonymous by not writing names. In order to avoid hurt feelings about the winning entry, have a third party like a grandparent or other relative decide on the winning design. For a little incentive, the winning entry gets an Amazon gift card.
Container decorating contest
Even if your yard doesn’t have the space for a veggie garden, you can still grow one using containers. Tomatoes, peas, potatoes, squash, salad greens, peppers, cucumbers, radishes, and eggplant do well in containers. Get tweens and the younger kids excited about the upcoming container garden with a container decorating contest. Head to the garden store or order terra cotta pots online. Kids can get creative designing their own terra cotta pot for the family’s container garden using acrylic paint.
Other ways to have fun in the garden with kids
As the family garden grows, kids can still be invested in the process like they were when planning the garden. Tending a vegetable garden is a big job, and kids will need to be hands-on about watering and weeding, as well as keeping bugs and other neighborhood animals wanting to stop by and snack away. Weeding contests can be an exciting way to get tweens interested in this often despised chore. Perhaps offering extra video game time to each week’s winner will be incentive enough to get the kids outside to weed. Not all bugs are harmful, but those that are will need to be removed from the garden. A Name That Bug contest could be a helpful way of keeping good insects like ladybugs and worms in, and bad bugs like aphids out.
From garden to table
Part of the joy of a vegetable garden is enjoying the fruits of your labor. When the veggies are ready to be harvested, plan on making different dishes using the tasty home-grown vegetables. Get kids involved in making salads or other meals using vegetables from the family garden. This a wonderful way for kids and tweens to get the complete farm-to-table experience.
Growing a vegetable garden is a fabulous family activity that can be a real learning experience for everyone involved. While parents may be excited about the prospect, tweens and teens may need more encouragement than younger kids. Vegetable garden games like grow your name are fun and work as incentives for tweens to want to join in on all the different aspects of growing your own veggies.
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