How Gardening Can Enhance Your Child’s Senses


As summer approaches, here are some outdoor activities that can help any toddler, preschooler or the “picky eater” of the family to learn more about how our fruits and veggies grow, look, feel and taste.

Learning through gardening has been one of the most powerful tools parents can share with their children to develop healthy eating habits. Gardening enhances our quality of life by providing outdoor exercise, health benefits, mini science lessons and opportunities to taste new foods. Gardening brings people together!

Children learn about planting, cause and effect, counting and cooperation, sharing and patience. Planting old favorites (carrots, peas, corn, pumpkins) and new veggies (eggplant, peppers, beets) creates interest as children water, harvest and taste new foods.

Families that tend gardens work together and share the experiences, making wonderful outdoor memories. There is a gardening task for any child any age. Children look forward to the annual events of planning and planting their garden. All it takes is a few large pots or a small patch of dirt that gets the sun for part of the day.

Here are some learning activities you can do with your kids:

Matching game with leaves

Collecting a variety from the yard and garden, sort by color and shape. Is it from a fruit or vegetable?

Grow your name

Line a small shoe box with plastic and fill with a few inches of dirt. Help your child scratch out their name in the soil with a small twig.

Sprinkle grass seeds into the name. Gently cover the seeds with soil. Mist the soil with a spray bottle and place near a window. Then mist the soil when dry. Soon you will see your child’s name growing in the box!

Planting journal

Start by using a lima bean for observing how a bean sprouts, placing the moist bean into a small plastic cup filled with soil. Mist with a spray bottle as the soil feels dry. Have your child draw what is happening in their very own plant journal. If you planted a garden, urge your child to draw what is happening outside in the garden once each week. Take time to talk about the pictures in the planting journal.

Sing a gardening song (to the tune of I’m a little teapot)

I plant a little seed in the soft, soft ground,

Out comes the warm sun, big and round,

Down come the raindrops wet and slow,

Up comes the flower- grow, grow, grow.

About the author

Marget Wincent
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Marget is a pediatric occupational therapist (OT) at Our Children's House in Dallas and has a special interest in feeding difficulties and sensory processing abilities. She's worked in pediatric settings all across the country.

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How Gardening Can Enhance Your Child’s Senses