Spring is an exciting time for gardening! The beautiful Mediterranean climate here in California makes it easy to grow many types of plants. Orange County’s lovely mild springtime weather is perfect for sprouting and sewing seeds and that very occasional rain is just what our lawns and gardens crave. So it’s the perfect time to do some springtime garden projects with children.
Spring is my favorite season; here comes the new growth!
I love seeing my flower garden bloom, the butterflies and baby birds appear, and starting my strawberries and sunflower seedlings with the kiddos. I love going to see all the beautiful gardens here, like the Flower Fields in Carlsbad, the Fullerton Arboretum, and the Sherman Library and Gardens, to name a few. We are lucky here in the OC because we can grow all year long; therefore, it is NEVER too late to start!! Grow something today!
Spring is a fun time for our kiddos too, of course!
They can enjoy more warm weather and light in the evening and watch the leaves on the trees grow back. They can jump in those occasional rain puddles and learn about how plants grow.
Kids of all ages can learn something new about plants this year. From babies sniffing flowers, enjoying the shapes and colors of plants and learning that questionable new feeling of sitting in grass for the first time.
Toddlers can have a ton of fun doing spring crafts, art work, nature walks, picking petals off flowers, and learning that you water a plant and give it sun to watch it grow. Kids enjoy springtime garden projects like planting seeds and watching the seedlings sprout, helping in the garden (even at some schools), learning the life cycle of plants, raising butterflies, and my favorite: go pick all the weeds for an ice cream *insert evil laugh*.
It goes on and on until you are an adult, still learning new things and tricks about keeping plants thriving, and how to start your own in-ground or container garden. No matter the size of your home, there is always room for a plant or two. There are so many fun things to do this spring revolving around plants.
Here are a few easy, cost effective, fun springtime garden projects to do together with the family:
#1 – Plant seeds and watch them grow!
This one is fun for all ages and productive too! Go to the nursery with the kids or home improvement store, and pick some seeds. They sell little kits for germinating seeds, but you could also just buy a little bag of seed starting soil and little biodegradable peat pots, or just make one at home using any take out style plastic packaging, an egg carton, water bottles or jugs. There are so many options! You just poke holes in the bottom for drainage, and the lid keeps the humidity high.
Fill your chosen method with seed starting mix and follow the instructions on the packet. It will tell you when to plant, how deep, how far apart, and how big it will eventually get.
Poke a hole in the seed mix with your finger and the kids can drop the seeds and cover them up. They will enjoy watering a little too much.
Make sure to label which plant is which. Littles love making the labels. If they can’t write letters yet, they can color it green for peas or draw a sunflower on it for example.
Open the lid a little so air can flow or you will get annoying mold on them. If this happens, it is very hard to get rid of and can kill the seedling, so avoid it in the first place!
Keep an eye on seedlings to monitor water needs. You don’t want them to dry out but don’t let them stay soggy or sit in water long. That means you may not have to water everyday so don’t get water happy, feel the soil with your finger. If it is dry, water.
Remove the top of the container for a little while each day for airflow, leave it cracked open or have it near a small fan. No direct sunlight though, as this could get too hot and kill them. They need 12-16 hours of indirect sunlight a day to thrive.
I always plant a few seeds together because usually not all seeds sprout. If you have several seedlings fighting for space, you have to “thin” by keeping the strongest looking one and pinching the rest off. The cotyledon or first little seed leaves are fun for kids to watch sprout. My sons love when the seed coat is still attached so they can gently pick it off.
Once you see two actual leaves, you can pot them up! Watch those flowers, fruits, and veggies grow! My kids can’t wait to pick a ripe strawberry. Good job, mama!
#2 – Create an artsy alphabet with planty things your kids find outside!
This springtime garden project required some time but is so worth it. Take a large poster size piece of paper if you have one (I used the back of an old poster) or whatever you have available. You could open up a brown paper grocery bag, or an Amazon box is fun too. Being a busy mom, you probably don’t have time to go buy crafts at the store so just use what you have! Get creative!
Here’s the fun part: take the kiddos for a walk outside. Enjoy all this sunshine! You can go around the neighborhood, to the park, around a garden, anywhere there are leaves and sticks on the floor. Kids love to collect little treasures they find on the floor. I let my kids pick anything up that is not attached because I don’t like them pulling all my flowers off, even though it melts my heart when my son proposes marriage to me holding up a fragrant gardenia.
Once you have a good size collection you should have all shapes and sizes of leaves, rounded sticks, flowers, seeds, bark, little rocks, and even weeds! When you get home, spread out all your findings and help your child sort them.
While they are busy with that, draw the alphabet for them to place their items on top of. I helped my two year old trace my letters with a forbidden sharpie.
Now watch them have fun exploring and creating their own letters with your nature items. I showed my son how to line a stick up with the line on the letter and he went to town.
When they are done doing a letter, hot glue (or regular glue) it down. My younger son was very proud of his art, finishing about a third of the alphabet, and when my 6-year-old got home he had fun finishing it and adding his own decorations.
We displayed it on the fridge and by the next day my giant puppy came and ate all the flowers off of it! That’s how it goes at my house! This fun project can be any kind of art or design. You can draw your toddler’s name, or have them draw a picture and decorate it. The options are endless.
#3 – Birdseed Sensory Bin!
My toddler wanted to buy some seed for all the bird families we have living in our front patio area. So we picked up a few bags. He likes sensory bins so I figured let’s try one with the seed (second kid does not put things in his mouth like the first kid did).
Add some fave toys and little cups and spoons to pour and measure. Make sure you do it outside in an easy clean up zone because seed may spill everywhere. We did this out in a dirt patch that the kids play in so if a seed plants itself, it’s no biggie. I have to put the bird feeder over here also because the bird seed spills and I got tired of picking random plants out of my garden, like fast growing corn!
The beauty of this sensory bin is the birds will eat it!
Sensory bins are easy to springtime garden projects theme too if you want to do water beads with ocean creatures or Easter basket stuffing with Easter eggs and bunnies.
You can also use it for teaching moments like finding the letters and putting them in order. You can use something like kinetic sand or easy to find rice, beans, or anything in bulk on sale. If your kid puts things in their mouth, try crushed up cereal. (If you end up with leftover birdseed, here’s a fun tutorial for making an Eco-friendly DIY pine cone birdseed feeder.)
Interactive things like this can be hours of screen-free entertainment. Now take a break and enjoy!
I hope these ideas for springtime garden projects help you have some DIY fun this spring! Let me know in the comments if you have any go-to fun and easy toddler activities. If you need any planty inspiration, check out my Instagram below.