Growing fruit with children offers a unique chance to teach them about the importance of healthy foods and nutrition. The only downside to growing fruit is that it takes a while, making younger kids lose interest rather quickly. For this reason, you’ll have to make growing fruit and learning about it fun and exciting in order to attract their attention and keep them focused.
A Fruit Garden of Their Own
One of the best ways to introduce kids to growing fruit is by allowing them to grow their own. Whether it’s in a sunny windowsill, on a patio, or in a small plot, kids will take great pride in their fruit garden, especially during harvest time when they can eat and share their long-awaited rewards.
The first step in growing fruit with the kids is planning. Let them decide what types of fruit they want to grow. Flip through catalogues to find suitable varieties for your area. You could also take them to a local nursery so they actually see some of the fruit trees and plants.
Help them choose a suitable site with plenty of sun. Provide them with appropriate kid-sized tools and let them help prepare the soil. Don’t forget compost. This is an ideal time to teach them all about it.
Encourage the kids to make their own using small trash bins. Have them collect items to place in the bins such as wet newspaper and kitchen scraps. Explain how fruit peelings from their garden can also be used.
Have the kids draw out a map of their fruit garden. Help them come up with ideas. For instance, if space is limited, there are many varieties of fruit that can be grown in containers, including dwarf fruit trees. Most kids love strawberries, so encourage them to grow their own in a strawberry pot or hanging basket. Strawberries are easy to grow; they take less time to mature, and are well suited for pots.
You can even create a fun strawberry tower for the kids using three to four pots of varying sizes, from small to large. Fill them with soil and stack them up, placing them slightly buried one inside the other. Then plant the strawberries along the base of each pot and one in the very top. Have the kids water it and watch it grow.
Other ideas might include growing grapes on a trellis or using stepladders for growing fruits like cantaloupes and watermelons, which keeps the melons off the ground as they grow. Be sure to teach the importance of maintaining their fruit gardens as well.
Hand-on Activities and Other Ideas
To hold their interest, offer the kids some fun activities related to growing fruit. For instance, have them create a collage from pictures cut from magazines or catalogues. Help them become familiar with the fruits in their garden by making a growth chart, noting its progress throughout the growing season.
For younger children, use colours to help them learn about fruits. For example, red fruits include watermelons and strawberries; orange fruits include cantaloupes, oranges, and peaches; while blue or purple fruits include grapes, plums, and blueberries. Explain why these are good for them, such as keeping them healthy.
Make fun fruit snacks to go with their charts or pictures such as fruit kebab caterpillars. Cut up various fruits like bananas, peaches, apples, grapes, strawberries, etc., and place them on skewers. Serve the tasty snacks to the kids.
Personalising fruit, such as apples and pears, will keep kids interested as the fruit ripens. Create nametags for their growing fruit with paper and edible glue. Simply apply their names to the growing fruit prior to ripening and once mature, remove the tags to reveal their names.
Take the kids on educational field trips to encourage enthusiasm for growing fruit, and if possible, visit places that include hands-on activities. For example, visit a nearby orchard or farm. Many of them allow kids to pick fresh fruits, like strawberries or apples. These offer worthwhile learning opportunities for kids. They can see firsthand what it’s like to grow and harvest fruit.
Perhaps you can take them to the local farmer’s market where various growers can talk about growing fruit and other crops. Growing fruit may take some time compared to flowers and vegetables. However, as long as you’re willing to include a variety of activities or trips to keep the learning fun, the kids are almost certain to remain interested.
Fun Fruit Facts
British sailors were once called “Limeys” because they were given limejuice to prevent them from becoming malnourished and ill while at sea. Limes have an abundance of vitamins necessary for good health.
Did you know that pineapples were once called pinecones? It’s true. These unusual looking fruits resembled large pinecones so the name took.