Kids in the Garden: Grow & Explore this Fall

wheatgrass growing in a cup
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Fall is the perfect time for little ones to get out in the garden to explore plants at their peak, and even grow their own plant projects in the cooler temperatures. Here are a few ideas to get them outside and appreciating nature.

Cut Grass Hair

Grow your own grass head, then snip or style the “hair” as it grows! The grass will germinate and grow quickly to create a lush, green head.

Materials needed:

  • 8 oz paper cup
  • Potting soil
  • Gass seed (my favorite is wheatgrass seeds)
  • Colored pencils, or crayons.

Start by poking 3-4 small holes in the bottom of the cup for drainage. Next, draw a face on the paper cup with colored pencils or crayons. Fill the cup with soil, saving one tablespoon to put on top of the seeds. Plant wheatgrass seeds, cover with 1/4 inch of soil, and water well.  After planting, water every few days and watch your head grow hair! Now it’s time to get creative with your “hair” styles! 

Attract Butterflies

Make your garden more butterfly-friendly with a drinking puddle. Shallow water sources provide the necessary salt and amino acids for our fluttering friends.

Start with a shallow container that can hold water, Iike a saucer or pie pan. Fill the container with sand, level it off, and create an indention in the center to collect water. Lightly sprinkle soil, compost, or salt over the sand to provide nutrition (avoid inert potting soil). Add water to the container and place it in your garden among your plants. Replace the water in the container as needed. Flat stones can also be placed on top of the sand for butterflies to land.

Sit back and enjoy watching these colorful creatures gather!

Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts are the perfect way to get kids to explore a garden or nature place while also learning and practicing their observation skills. Create simple challenges encouraging kids to use all their senses in the garden.

For example: find items for each letter in the alphabet, match colors found in the garden to the rainbow, or even look for wildlife. The possibilities are endless! Exploring can take place in your backyard, at a park, or a public garden. Check out the Illinois State University Horticulture Center’s Children’s Garden on Raab Road for a kid-friendly (and beautiful!) garden space.

Get outside, play in the dirt, grow some plants, explore around you, and enjoy nature!