Finding fun things to do with children during half term is always a challenge for parents, grandparents and carers and given that we are in the middle of a national lockdown, this task is even more challenging.
In light of this, I have revisited the blog entry I wrote last year on the topic of ‘gardening activities for kids to do during half-term’ to focus it more on things that don’t need much planning or preparation and can still be carried out during this lock down.
So, here are 5 fun gardening activities to do with your kids during this February half-term
Start sowing indoors – Some seeds like tomatoes and cucumbers (or sweet peas if you are into flowers) can be sown indoors now. If you haven’t yet got your seeds for this year, have none left over from last year and feel you have left it too late to order online, many supermarkets have a rack with seeds for sowing. The options are usually pretty limited but at least you can pick up a few packets of seeds while doing your weekly food shop.
The period between sowing and the seedling appearing above ground can usually be quite boring for younger children so why not track the progress of the sprouting seed by growing it simultaneously under soil and/or in a bag with wet kitchen roll? If this sounds interesting, check out this fun activity.
Also, if you are keen to make the sowing seeds activity last longer (and be more environmentally friendly), you can help your child create the pots for the seeds to start growing in. Toilet and kitchen roll cardboard tubes are fab for this and for older children you can challenge them to make some origami newspaper pots. For longer lasting gardening pots, milk bottles, yogurt pots and other recycled items can be used but if you are planning to eat what you grow make sure you use plastic that already contained food rather than other household products.
Make a nestbox - Looking after the wellbeing of our garden birds is an important task so it is great to see that lockdown hasn’t stopped the annual event that is National Nestbox Week. It started on the 14th of February and there is still plenty of time to build and/or decorate a nestbox for your outdoor space? Having a project for half term is always a winner especially with older children. Most of the DIY nest boxes require some basic level of woodwork but I have come across this rather ingenuous way of using a terracotta pot instead.
Chit potatoes - Chitting potatoes is a quick one to do and gets you ready for when it is time to plant potatoes in about 6 weeks time. Check out this RHS page to see how easy it is to do. Many of the essential shops still open during lockdown stock seed potatoes so it should not be hard to get hold of them. If at all possible refrain from using regular supermarket potatoes as it is not recommended.
Chitting is a fun way for children to observe how plants grow in different ways and it is a very visual one as the potato plants will start to grow and the potato will start shrinking. This is a clear sign that the plants are using up the energy reserves kept in the potato. Once in the soil they will grow roots and get their energy from the soil nutrients.
Plant berry bushes and canes – If the soil is not frozen and the weather permits, bare rooted berry plants such as raspberries and blackcurrants can be planted in the garden. Once the summer arrives and they start bearing fruits they offer a great little ‘eating station’ for little ones and for wildlife alike. As with seed packets, most large supermarkets have a small selection of bare rooted plants so it should be pretty easy to pick them up during your weekly shopping trip.
Have fun with winter flowers -
If your little one is into arts and crafts, pansies and violas are beautiful at this time of the year so ideal for picking and flower pressing. All you really need for this is a flower press (or a big pile of books), some flowers and some paper to sandwich the flowers between.
If you have grown pansies and violas yourself and you know that they are organically grown you can pick them to use as cupcake or shortbread decorations. There are not many winter edible flowers (unless you are growing them indoors) so before using them in cooking check that they are edible.
Pressed flowers also make lovely decorations for cards and letters. Writing letters has undergone a bit of a revival given that many kids are not able to be with their friends and extended family due to the lockdown restrictions and it is a great way to keep in touch while also practicing their writing skills!
So lockdown doesn’t have to disrupt your half-term gardening fun with kids and I wish you lots of enjoyment from the above activities. If you do, feel free to share as a comment on this blog or on our Facebook and Instagram pages.