Kids love gardening! It’s true. Anytime that I’ve had a child around while I’m doing anything garden-related, they cannot resist. Sitting on their knees with outstretched hands, they insist on “helping.” Their eyes light up, and everything is a wonder. Gardening is such a wholesome activity. There are so many teachable moments. All of the things that seem to fascinate children about gardening are the very things that I’m intrigued about myself.
Seeds come in so many sizes, shapes, textures and colors. Some seeds are flat and slick; others are round or fuzzy. One of my favorite seeds is that of a leek. They look like little flecks of silver, and you would never guess them to be seeds. If your only experience with planting a garden comes from buying transplants from a nursery then you’re really missing out!
It was not until I held some seeds in the palm of my hand and really stopped to ponder them that I understood the miracle. It’s a mystery, and at the same time it’s incredible to think that something so tiny holds the potential and promise of bringing forth life—a whole new fruiting plant.
Little hands are perfect for holding little seeds. Seeds allow us the opportunity to teach eager-to-learn children about the power of God. There’s no better time to explain that He created “Every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you” (Gen. 1:29) than when you are helping a child plant seeds.
There are many techniques to gardening, including hydroponics, but the most common growing medium is soil. And, for a variety of reasons, people choose how they want to garden. For some, the reward is the delicious food or beautiful flowers, but for most, they just love having their hands in the dirt.
I don’t think any of us would argue that kids are typically drawn to dirt, and that’s a great thing. In her book, The Dirt Cure, Maya Shetreat, MD, wrote, “It turns out that all the things that are messy and dirty in the world, the very things we thought we needed to control or even eliminate to stay alive, are actually the very elements necessary for robust health.”
Ongoing studies show us that when kids play in the dirt they are healthier and happier. It’s easier for me to keep things in perspective and also to teach kids that, “The Lord God formed man from the dust from the ground” (Gen. 2:7) when you have your hands in the dirt with them.
From stagnant puddles to swimming pools, kids LOVE water! It doesn’t matter if you give a child a watering can or a garden hose, THEY ARE OBSSESSED!
When you explain that plants need water in order to grow, that’s their cue to get involved. The trick is to get them to participate without drowning whatever it is you’re planting! Providing a few household things such as a bucket, a cup or a spoon to capture water in is better than spending hundreds of dollars in a toy store. Water play in the garden provides hours of entertainment, and when it’s time to clean up, explain to your little ones, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
Nature reveals God’s glory. Rom. 1:20 tells us, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” As adults, one of our goals should be to gently lead children to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and He has provided for us the perfect classroom. All we have to do is step outside and try.
What a gift we’ve been given when we get to teach a child about our Heavenly Father, and it’s a really fun bonus when we get to do so in a garden.