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Tiered planter indoor pots give kids the chance to grow their own food. Use kitchen tongs or chopsticks to feed and harvest your plants, then prepare and serve them at the table.
By COREY KUPPERMAN
For kids, green is everything. As a result, growing their own plants at home is a family favorite. You can find countless easy, cheap and fun activities that can go a long way toward strengthening your children’s connection with nature. Plus, kids get the most from the experience when they can do it themselves.
With a bucket full of rain, buckets, shovels and a shady spot, you can give your kids a true preschool experience outside. Scatter some loose soil for an early example of gardening. Add a container or a hole for a planted pumpkin. Add worms and compost for natural fertilizer. Get the kids outside for a small lesson in soil management, irrigation, plant care, harvest and making something with nature.
Indoor potty training
Trying potty training outside in the backyard is messy and inconvenient. Indoors, you can have potty training inside your home without using a mattress or an outdoor pit. Kids (and some adults) can use an indoor potty just for their bathroom training. Clean the potty out with warm, soapy water and wipe dry with a towel. Place a toilet seat on it to make the experience more comfortable and to prevent stains. Fill the potty with sudsy water, followed by a dry towel. Allow the kids to use the potty on their own. When it’s time for a cleanup, wet the potty down with water to remove the soapy residue.
Getting kids to eat their vegetables is a major hurdle for most families. Offering them the chance to grow their own organic food can do the trick. You can buy pre-planted garden pots for about $15. To use the pots, fill each with potting soil and a few tomato, pepper, eggplant and cucumber seedlings. Label the pots with the name of the plant and the potting soil’s nutrient requirements. Set the pots in a spot that gets sun and water. Water as needed. A consistent soaking once a week will keep the plants healthy and let you see how well they’re growing. Harvest at your convenience by simply snipping off the sprouting green tops, followed by slicing off the stems at the base of the vegetables.
Make a garden with kid-friendly supplies
Kids get started with nature hands-on when they have a chance to interact with a seedling or cut down on its food supply. Here are some kid-friendly resources you can use to get started.
Fill clear cups with sawdust and water for houseplants. Place a water-resistant vegetable, herb or flower in the sawdust and cover the cup with a plastic cap. For an added layer of insulation, put a clear plastic garbage bag on the sawdust.
Put a kitchen spoon in a clear Tupperware container. Add soil and plant a seedling, such as lettuce or radish.
Make a garden or pot of flowers using store-bought pots. Fill each with soil and plants. Carefully cover each container with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot, such as the garage or an open window.
Use a kiddie water pump and a hose to fill a milk jug with water for your garden. Use a permanent marker to write the name of each plant and add nutrition requirements for the food source.
Clean the fridge
While your kids are at school or at the playground, clean out the refrigerator. The kids can use this opportunity to organize and learn about the many different containers and foods that are found inside the refrigerator. Starting young will help them become more knowledgeable about food sources and prevent them from getting stuck in the kids-crammed-into-refrigerator-maze later in life.
Green Jello garden
Because Jell-O is water-based, it takes less of a mess and is more convenient for watering indoor gardens. Get the kids making their own Jell-O fruits and vegetables in a green Jello garden. Here’s how:
Line up three or four Jell-O blocks in a row and arrange them in a star shape. (Using the center block will make it easier for the kids to see how the blocks move.) Label the blocks with the name of the food. Use ketchup, mustard, mayo or other favorite condiments to make fruits and vegetables.
Fill a gallon-sized plastic milk jug with water and add food coloring to make the vegetables look pretty. Drop a cube of Jell-O in each Jello block to create the different vegetables.
Check to make sure the kids aren’t having trouble getting the food colors to sink and the Jell-O to firm up.
Fruit salad in a milk jug
Kids will be happy to eat their fruits without washing them first, so using a milk jug is an easy way to make the process a little simpler.To make this fruity mix, use as many of the following fruits as you want:
The added benefit of using a milk jug is that the kids can help assemble the fruit salad.
Flowers are much easier to grow than fruits