One of the most important homesteading skills to learn today is how to grow your own food. And this is true for students of all ages, no matter where you live. Use these 10 simple homeschool gardening ideas to encourage your child to grow their own food today.
Garden Where You Can
If you're doubtful about gardening because of where you live, I have good news. While backyard gardening has taken off in a big way over the past year, you don't actually need a yard to get started. A patio, balcony, or even a sunny windowsill can work.
10 Simple Homeschool Gardening Ideas
One of the best things about homeschooling is the fact that we can do things differently from "regular" schools. We get to make learning a hands-on experience and customize it to our children's needs.
As homeschooling and homesteading families will tell you, the garden is a great way to make the most of your summertime learning. Even better? It can help your child gain a love of science.
Here are a few great ideas to get the ball rolling.
Start Seeds Indoors
We homeschool off the grid in a part of the world where the winter season is long, cold, and dark. That's why we start seeds indoors.
A few years ago we grew a ton of beans in our laundry room by planting dried beans from the store.
Try seed starting on paper towels or in a small pot. Sprouting microgreens like alfalfa or mustard greens is another of our winter homeschool gardening ideas.
Plant Their Favorite Vegetable
What's your child's favorite fruit or vegetable? Luckily, some of the easiest vegetables for kids to grow are also some of their favorites.
Let your child plant carrots, lettuce, potatoes, or whatever they'd like to try. This will inspire them to keep gardening.
Garden journals are a great way to teach your child to observe and to build a personally drawn catalog of plants that they have watched grow from seed to harvest. Have your child make a spot in their garden journal to draw each part of each plant in detail with notes taken over the growing process.
Make Homeschool Gardening a Game
Does your family love games? Mine do. In fact, healthy competition has helped my kids learn about investing in the stock market, egg production, and how to shave time off their morning chores.
One of my favorite homeschool gardening ideas is to have a fun competition. Kind of like the old-fashioned farm fairs. Who can grow the most tomatoes? The biggest pumpkin? The longest zucchini?
Turn your gardening activities into a game your kids will love.
Soil PH Testing
Along with teaching your kids an important homestead skill, gardening is a great way to share practical chemistry lessons.
One of those lessons is soil testing.
Testing your soil might help you to choose how to amend it to help your garden grow.
Soil PH testing with your kids can also be a great homeschool garden experiment to teach your child about acids and bases.
Here's a simple way to test your garden soil's PH levels.
Collect a few samples of soil (about ½ cup) from different parts of your garden. Mix each sample with a small amount of water.
Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of baking soda to each sample. How does the dampened soil react?
Repeat the experiment by adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of vinegar to each sample. How do these acids and bases react with your soil samples? (This is the kind of thing your child can record in their garden journal. )
The more acidic the soil, the more it will react to baking soda. The more basic the soil the more it will react to vinegar.
An even simpler option is to just order some PH test strips.
Make it Family Time
Summer is a busy time on the homestead. And it is a great time to make family memories working together.
Whether you're apartment homesteading, creating a low-maintenance garden together, or just introducing gardening to your summer homeschool schedule, make it a point to get out there and join your child in the garden. (And try one of these fun DIY garden projects as a rainy day activity.)
Create a Weather Station
Some kids are a whole lot craftier than others. And honestly, not all of my kids love to dig in the dirt.
That's why I'm always on the lookout for crafty ideas for them to try in the garden. (For example, we love some of the ideas for DIY planters to garden indoors or outdoors. And also these upcycled DIY cork mat bird feeders.)
Building your own weather station in the garden is another simple hands-on way to learn about the weather. Include a discussion on how the weather affects how plants grow.
For example, living north of 60 means we get 20+ hours of daylight during our summer months. While some of our veggies grow like crazy, others only grow flowers, no fruit.
Track the weather using your weather station in your child's garden journals along with their observations on how the plants react to things like heat and rain.
Make it a Summer Business
If your children really love to garden and/or want to make money, consider setting up a farm stand. Or renting a table at the local farmer's market.
Selling extra carrots, lettuce, broccoli and herbs is a good way for your children to get introduced to running a business. Financial self-reliance is a topic near and dear to my heart, so I could go on all day about this. In fact, I think I'll save it for another post. In the meantime though, consider this idea for your children aged about 10+.
A post on garden homeschooling ideas just wouldn't be complete without mentioning compost.
Compost is one of the best things you can add to your garden. And composting also helps reduce your household waste cluttering up landfills.
Compost provides your fruit and vegetables with vital nutrition. It's also inexpensive and easy to make at home.
Start composting with kids to show them how decomposition works. To make this project easy, make a small compost tote or purchase a compost tumbler.
Make note of what goes into your compost with each addition and what can be observed in the compost with each turning.
Water Filter Experiment
So living where we do (in a remote boreal forest in Canada's subarctic) means that in addition to homesteading, we also cover survival skills in our homeschool.
And learning how to filter water is an important emergency skill for kids. However, it's also a wonderful science lesson for kids, and an opportunity to talk about why our gardens need fresh water.
Check out these water filter kits as an introduction or project for younger kids if you're looking for more simple homeschool gardening ideas.
For older kids, challenge them to do some research and build their own water filter from items that you have running around the house. Then mix some dirt from the garden into a jug of water and practice filtering the water until you manage to get clean water in the end.
Are you gardening in your homeschool this year? If so, let me know what I should add to this list!
This post is part of the Homestead in Your Homeschool Series which is included in the Homeschooling Fun Through the Summer series 2021.
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