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36 Simple Preschool Gardening Activities and Ideas

Whether introducing a gardening theme or simply looking for ideas to get kids out in nature, these preschool gardening activities will keep the kids busy and learning in simple ways.

Most of these are hands-on activities for the garden, but there are also ideas of educational activities to support the garden theme such as games, stories, circle-time discussions and creative art.

While parents and preschool teachers can introduce the theme in a scheduled time and teach children about the natural world using many of these activities, caring for a garden and tending to plants is a long-term project that will require commitment from both the adults and the children.    

There are so many benefits of gardening with young children – such as developing motor skills, creativity and environmental awareness – that make it the perfect holistic activity

Here are 36 gardening activities for your preschoolers and kindergarteners. 

1. Plant Bean Seeds

No childhood would be complete without planting bean seeds in class, hence why this activity is top of my list.

Grow beans in a jar indoors with cotton wool or soil so kids can watch the process happening. Make sure the plants get direct sunlight and are watered regularly.

Beans grow quickly so this can be a fun introduction to planting and gardening for little learners, and will give each child the opportunity to care for and be responsible for their plant.

Planting seeds is a great science experiment as kids can see how the bean changes by being exposed to sunlight and water. They can also see how plants react to being over or under watered, not getting enough sunlight, etc.

2. Discover How Plants Grow

Introduce the garden and plant theme by reading books on various topics such as the life cycle of a plant, different types of plants and parts of a plant, how to take care of a garden, planting flowers, planting vegetables, etc.

3. Garden Scavenger Hunt

Prepare a basic scavenger hunt for kids, with images of different items or natural items commonly found in gardens, such as leaves, twigs, flowers, stones, pine cones, etc.

Individually, in pairs or small groups, they can go into the garden and find each item on the list. 

Scavenger hunt kit out in nature

4. Draw the Garden

Tell children you are going to be famous artists and draw a garden scene. Go outside (in the garden or local park) with crayons or pencils, pieces of paper and books to press on. 

Seat children on the grass and talk about what they observe in front of them. Ask them to draw what they see and add as many details as possible – the trees, the grass, the different plants, wildlife and sky.

This kind of observational drawing will be more suitable for older preschoolers and kindergarteners.

5. Learn About Tools

Have a circle time discussion outdoors and talk about all the different tools and gardening accessories, and their functions. Give kids an opportunity to share what they think each tool is used for or what it’s called before you tell them.  

Here are a few examples to discuss:

  • Rake
  • Shovel
  • Spade
  • Trowel 
  • Wheelbarrow 
  • Gloves
  • Shears
  • Watering can
  • Pot 

6. Weed the Garden

Put some gloves on and take kids out to weed the garden. This activity can be hard work and is good for strengthening the hand muscles.

Explain how to identify weeds and that we need to weed regularly to prevent the weeds from overrunning the garden bed and competing with the other plants for water, light and nutrients.

7. Rake the Leaves

This simple gardening activity is a good exercise for crossing the midline. Provide child-sized rakes and let kids gather the leaves that have fallen off the trees.

8. Plan the Garden

If you’d like to get kids involved in planting outdoors, first decide if you’d like to plant a herb garden, vegetable garden or flower garden. 

You may want to create more than one garden, or just plant one type of plant and not an entire garden. Or you could replant their beans that were growing indoors.

Have a discussion where you plan your garden. Discuss the best time to plant, how to plant the seeds (what distance and depth), what the seeds need to grow, etc.

9. Plant Seeds

Let kids plant the seeds (or transplant their growing bean plants) into the soil. Younger children will need lots of supervision.

This is a good exercise for hand-eye coordination.

10. Mulching

Gardening can introduce kids to a whole new set of skills, such as raking, weeding and mulching. 

Demonstrate how to spread mulch around the plants to help them retain moisture and control weeds. Let the kids help spread the mulch with small rakes or their hands.

11. Water the Plants

Water the plants with a hosepipe or watering cans. Take care not to over water them.

Watering the plants daily is a great opportunity for teaching kids about responsibility. Have a roster where they take turns watering the plants.

12. Tending to the Garden

Part of healthy child development is learning to care for things, practising patience, being independent and having chores and responsibilities. Looking after a garden is a wonderful way to build these skills.

Teach your children about caring for plants and encourage them to check on their garden often, water it, monitor if anything is growing or needs support (such as a wooden pole for a bean plant).

13. Fairy Garden

Create a fun fairy garden in a small space in your garden, or indoors with pot plants. Make it an inviting space for fairies by including little fairy statues, small-sized statues, lights, etc.

Use alpine or miniature plants to create a fairy garden.

Kid having a fairy garden

14. Sensory Garden

Create a garden that provides a wonderful sensory experience with beautiful flowers, strong-smelling herbs and plants with different textures.

15. Make a Scarecrow

Young kids will have so much fun making a scarecrow to protect the garden from pests. Let them get creative with this group project by using old clothes, a pole, and some straw or newspaper for stuffing. 

A scarecrow

16. Sing Songs

There are lots of fun songs about gardening, plants and nature that you can incorporate into your music rings. Here are a few ideas:

The Farmer Plants the Seeds, by The Kiboomers

This song is sung to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”:

The farmer plants the seeds,  
The farmer plants the seeds,
Hi, Ho, the Dairy-O
The farmer plants the seeds.

Repeat the verse, replacing the lyrics “the farmer plants the seeds” each time with:

The sun comes out to shine
The rain begins to fall
The seeds begin to grow
The vegetables are here
The farmer digs them up
Now it’s time to eat

Dingle Dangle Scarecrow, by hey dee do

When all the cows were sleeping
and the sun had gone to bed. 
Up jumped the scarecrow
And this is what he said

I’m a Dingle Dangle Scarecrow
with a flippy floppy hat.
I can shake my hands like this
and shake my feet like that.

When all the hens were roosting 
and the moon was behind a cloud. 
Up jumped the Scarecrow 
and shouted very loud.

I’m a Dingle Dangle Scarecrow
with a flippy floppy hat.
I can shake my hands like this
and shake my feet like that.

Watch the video to follow along with the actions:

Springtime Dance, by Jack Hartmann

Incorporate some movement with this fun song about Spring:

It’s Spring!
Flowers grow, reach for the sun
Beautiful colors for everyone
The season of winter now has passed
Spring is here, do the Springtime dance

Bunny Hop, it’s springtime
Springtime
Bird dance, it’s springtime
Springtime
Sprinkler, it’s springtime
Springtime
Flower dance, it’s springtime

Here are more weather songs for kids.

17. Finger Rhyme

Teach kids the finger rhyme This is My Garden to build their language and fine motor skills.

This is my garden
(Hold one hand out to represent the garden, palm facing up)
I’ll rake it with care
(With two fingers of the other hand, make a raking motion onto the garden)
Here are the seeds
(Pinch the fingers of the other hand together)
I’ll plant in there
(Make a planting motion with the pinched fingers, onto the garden)
The sun will shine
(Lift both hands and spread fingers out into a sunshine)

The rain will fall
(Make a falling rain motion with both hands)
The seeds will sprout
(Intertwine the fingers)
And grow up tall
(Lift upwards to show a growing motion)

18. Egg Box Caterpillars

This is a fun and creative way to grow grass seeds, and a chance to see a different seed type.

For this craft, you will need to cut the egg carton so you are left with a row of of a few egg cups. Put soil into each section and then make a caterpillar face on one side, with pipe cleaners for feelers and googly eyes. 

Sprinkle some grass seed, water it daily and watch the caterpillar grow hairy tufts!

19. Document the Stages of Growing

Draw each stage of the plant growing – this could also be the bean plant. Older kid may be able to draw these more accurately, but recognize the efforts of younger children – word.

As children watch their bean plant grow, they can draw the different stages of growth, from seed to germination to growing leaves.

Older kids will be more skilled at drawing these but it’s important to still encourage younger kids to draw what they see. Write out the kids’ descriptions of what they drew on each page.

The process of beans growing

20. Sequencing Cards

Planting is a great opportunity to learn about sequencing. Provide cards showing the various stages of the plant life cycle and place them in the correct sequence. 

(Get your own set of printable sequencing cards here!)

21. Sequencing Drawings

Older kids can sequence their own drawings of their growing plant! Discuss the life cycle of the plant.

22. Make a Compost Heap

Teach children about composting by letting them collect kitchen scraps like fruit and vegetable peels to add to a compost bin or pile in the garden. Explain how composting helps create nutrient-rich soil for the garden.

Introduce this idea with a story about composting.

23. Play the Category Game

Play a category game during circle time. Going around the group, each child must say a word that fits into the category of “gardening” or “things you can find in a garden”. 

It’s a great listening and memory activity as no one is allowed to repeat a word that has already been shared.

24. Listening Walk

This peaceful garden activity involves going on a listening walk in the garden or park to practise developing listening skills. Challenge kids to walk in silence as they pay attention to the sounds of nature, such as insects, birds and wind. They can also listen for background sounds such as cars driving past or a school bell ringing.

25. Leaf Prints

For this simple art activity, children learn about different shapes and patterns on leaves, created by the veins. 

There are several ways to do a leaf print – make leaf prints in playdough, dip leaves in paint and print them onto paper, or make leaf rubbings by placing a leaf under a sheet of paper and rubbing over it with a wax crayon.

26. Observing Wildlife

Encourage kids to observe the birds, insects and other wildlife that visit the garden. Provide each child with a small journal to record (draw) their observations. 

27. Learning About Insects/Birds

Have a circle-time discussion about the insects, birds and other wildlife found in your garden or local park. Read a story or talk about how they help the plants grow and how they benefit from each other. 

An example is how bees pollinate flowers and also rely on them for food.

28. Make Bird Feeders

Bird feeders make a great addition to a garden and are an opportunity for bird watching and tracking the birds that come into a garden.  

Children can make simple feeders with peanut butter, toilet paper rolls and bird seed. All they need to do is spread the peanut butter onto the toilet paper roll, roll it in birdseed, thread a string through the roll and hang it from a branch or hook.

29. Movement Activity

During a movement activity, challenge children to:

  • move like tall trees in the wind
  • sway like grass
  • buzz around like bees
  • open up like flowers in the morning
  • fly around like birds, etc.

30. Plant Markers

Uisng markers, or labels, is an easy way to identify what you have planted, especially before the plants are growing visibly above the ground.

Making garden markers can be a fun craft idea. Use rocks, popsicle sticks, clothespins, markers (for pot plants) or recycled wooden or plastic spoons.

Decorate them with stickers, paint or markers. Write the names of the plants on the labels in permanent marker. 

31. DIY Watering Cans

Use recycled materials such as plastic milk bottles, juice bottles, laundry detergent bottles or coffee canisters to make watering cans.

Clean the containers thoroughly, then poke holes into the plastic lids with a small nail or thumbtack. Decorate the watering cans and start watering the plants!

32. Hide and Seek

All work and no play is not the goal! Have some educational fun by playing Hide and Seek in the garden, while kids develop their gross motor skills, position in space and creative thinking.

33. Container Garden

What if you don’t have a garden or suitable outdoor space? Create a container garden with kids.

Grow plants in containers or pots on balconies, patios, decks, porches or even indoors.

34. Harvesting Produce

When fruits or vegetables are ready to harvest, involve kids in picking them from the plants. It’s a rewarding experience for them to enjoy the fruits of their labour.

Child picking a strawberry

35. Building a Mini Greenhouse

Teach kids what a greenhouse is and then make your own by using clear plastic cups or bottles to cover seedlings and protect them from the elements. 

The plants will stay warm and be able to grow, even in colder weather, as the sun will shine though the plastic and warm the air inside.

36. Make an Insect Hotel

Kids wil love the idea of making bug houses, also called bug shelters or insect hotels. These provide shelter for beneficial insects like bees, ladybugs, or butterflies, encourage biodiversity and hep control pests. 

Here are some ideas for making a mini bug hotel.

I hope you’ve enjoyed discovering these garden and plant activities that kids of all ages will enjoy and learn from. They will not only help children learn about plants and gardening but also foster a sense of responsibility and appreciation for nature.

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