Yesterday, Monday the 27th of April, marked the start of both 'National Gardening week' and ‘Grandparents Gardening Week’. Given the role that grandparents have had at introducing children to the joys of gardening, I thought it would be nice to dedicate a blog entry to them and suggest some fun ideas that grandparents and grandchildren can do together (thanks to technology and imagination) even if they are not able to visit each other.
Here are my 5 ideas for sharing the love of gardening while separated.
1. Grow together but at a distance
Video calls have become the norm now so during your next video call why not choose a couple of types of seeds that you can both plant at the same time. You can even share the seeds via post so you are sure that you are growing exactly the same ones. Once you both have the seeds you can sow them during a live call so grandparents can guide the activity. Progress on the seeds and ‘what to do next' can be the topics for future calls. I am finding that calls between my kids and my parents are becoming a long list of "what have you been doing today/yesterday" and a reminder of the fact that the two generations are separated physically. Moving the attention onto something that you are doing together could make a welcome change.
2. Grandma/grandad's ‘Gardeners world’-style videos
If you struggle to get good wifi and the video calls are too grainy to properly have an activity together, why not use the smartphone or camera to create a nice video explaining what you have been doing in the garden or focus on specific tasks for the week ahead. The latter is especially relevant if you are growing something simultaneously e.g. how to re-pot something or care for a specific plant. This could also be a great way to get mini gardeners to do a ‘show and tell’ about something that they have grown.
3. Nature hunt
Most kids love a good nature hunt but instead of relying on pre-printed resources (these are great but not personalised) grandparents could take a few pictures of what they can spot in their garden and the mini gardeners need to match it in theirs. This works well for quite young children too as it is a great way to get to know both insects and plants that are in their garden.
This activity could be done with images sent via phone or if the grandparents are good at drawing it could also be done via letter making it a lovely keepsake too.
4. Show your love with seeds
If your little ones are sending regular letters or cards to their grandparents, it is lovely to add a ‘growable shape’ in the next card or letter.
It is easy to make one with a chosen shape of thick paper/card and some small seeds e.g. forget me nots or poppies. If you don’t have an existing shape your child can cut one with your help. Hearts and stars are usually lovely for this type of activity as the plants then grow in that formation. Once you have the card shape, mix equal amounts flour and icing sugar and add a little bit of water to make a ‘glue’ consistency. The glue can then be painted on the card shape (a nice thin layer works best) and the seeds are scattered on top of the glue. Leave for a few hours to dry and the shape with seeds is ready to be incorporated into a lovely card for the grandparents.
All the recipient has to do is get a suitable sized pot, fill it with soil or compost, place the shape on top of the soil and cover with a thin layer of soil. They can then water the pot and wait for the seed to sprout. Make sure you let the recipient know if they can plant them outside now or need to wait until the risk of night frost is over. If a few of the seeds are dislodged during postage, they can be reapplied to the card shape just by gently spraying a bit of water on the card and dropping the seeds on it. The glue is reactivated with water.
5. Use nature in artwork
During this period of lockdown my girls have spent a lot of time making pictures for family and friends so my final idea taps into the love that children have for making and sharing their art. It is not strictly gardening but it is a great way to learn about plants (structure, differences and similarities between various plants and even their names).
Flowers and leaves can be used as stencils and brushes to make lovely artwork. Why not use your grandparent’s favourite flower to stamp a lovely picture. This can be done by younger children too so it is very adaptable.
Older children can pick flowers and leaves from the garden and press them in between some heavy books or with a flower press. Once they are dry they can be used to make wonderful pictures and other items of arts and crafts.
I am sure that grandma and grandad would be very proud of any such artwork and it would take centre stage on their fridge or kids artwork wall.
If you have any lovely activities or stories to share on this topic we'd love to hear about them so please do share them on this blog or on our social media pages.