Start spring off with a family garden, started from seed. This is the perfect time to begin growing a few vegetables indoors: spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli. Come early to mid-May, you'll be able to transfer them to your outdoor space. Along the way, you can track the growth of your plants in a journal with the kids. And come summer, you'll be amazed at how your kids will take to eating their own produce.
What you'll need:
Seed packets of your chosen vegetables
Large plastic tray
Spray bottle filled with water
Grow light (if you don't have a sunny window)
What you'll do:
Allow each member of the family to choose which seeds they want to plant. Before planting, let the kids examine the seeds -- how do they look different? In what ways are they the same? Explain how the plants will grow from the seeds. Cover your work space with newspapers or a vinyl tablecloth for easy cleanup. Fill the peat pots with the seed-starting medium (even the youngest can help you scoop the dirt into the pots), and plant the seeds at the depth indicated on their packets. Set filled peat pots on the plastic tray, moisten by misting each thoroughly with the spray bottle and cover with plastic wrap. (This will help keep the seeds moist.) Set in a sunny window or in a convenient area under the grow light. Remember to mist the seeds regularly to keep them moist -- you can assign older kids a day a week to be responsible for this.
Now create your gardening records. Allot several notebook pages to each seed type, and at the start of each section, record who planted which seeds, along with the date. Let the kids tape a few of the extra seeds to the pages. Each week, record with your children what's happening with the seeds -- when they sprouted, how tall the seedlings have grown and so on; older children might want to add illustrations as well. When you plant outdoors later in the spring, in the ground or in containers, label each vegetable with the family member's name -- Mom's tomatoes, Morgan's spinach, Dylan's broccoli, Dad's leaf lettuce -- so you can continue to celebrate each person's produce every time you bring it to the table.