If you and your child enjoy the outdoors, this spring why not give gardening a try? Depending upon the age and ability of the child, you will first need to decide together whether to plan a "flowers only" garden, a vegetable garden, an herb garden, or a combination of flowers and food. We have a wonderful herb garden and my little one loves to pick her own parsley, or snip thyme for a recipe. Sometimes just touching a rosemary plant and then smelling her hand makes her smile. The choices are as diverse as the child making the decision. The only constraint is the climate in your area.
Before you begin, keep in mind some basics. You are looking for low maintenance, disease resistant plants that grow well in your environment. You also need plants with characteristics that will please your child. The other important factor in choosing seeds with children is to find things that grow quickly. Little ones get very frustrated and worried about their "little plants" if they take too long to appear. Keep that in mind when choosing your seeds.
There are lots of options. You can go to your local nursery to choose your seeds. You will benefit from having a professional available to answer questions and give advice. This is a wonderful opportunity for your child to choose his own seeds and gardening tools.
Gardening magazines often offer seed swaps at no cost. Check out the ads. Many state that they will send seeds to anyone for the price of a stamp. Perhaps you'll gain a pen pal as well.
You might consider using seeds from the fruit and vegetables that you buy. Keep in mind that sterilized or irradiated seeds won't grow anywhere. One possible test for germination capability is to place a few seeds on a wet sponge in a sealed plastic bag. Put in a cool dark place and then check on them every three days. If nothing's changed after three weeks, your seeds are probably not going to grow. Any indication of life requires an immediate transplant into a growing medium.
Seeds may sometimes be taken from the seed heads of store bought flowers or your own garden. There are many good books that will tell you where the seeds on a particular flower can be found. After a few different tries you will become pretty good at figuring this out for yourself.
What you cannot do, no matter how tempting, is take seeds from a National Forest or Park. There is a Federal law against it.