Whether you like to garden or not, you are likely to spend some time in your yard at this time of year cleaning up winter’s refuse. And, if you have kids, you may find it challenging to accomplish your yard work while they are romping about.

But, with a little marketing plan and willingness to slow down the process a bit, you may find that they can be terrific helpers. A new pair of gardening gloves may help inspire them, as well and won’t cost you much for some needed enthusiasm.

To start, you may want to do a yard cleanup. Strange treasures emerge in the spring from under newly melted snow or piles of dead leaves – a rope from a defunct sled, a shiny stone that was once a part of a fairy house, or a rock-hard candy left from Halloween. Send your kids on a treasure hunt to find these lost items and challenge them to create something with them.

They can also help collect the many sticks and leaves around the yard and use these in their creations. An old bucket with a good handle works well for this. As they clean up, they are likely to find new treasures of the season, as well – little shoots poking up through leaf litter.

See if they can count how many they find and ask them to notice the different types and what colors they might see about to pop out. You can do this with trees and shrubs around the yard, as well.

For crafty kiddos, set them up to decorate flowerpots with either sidewalk chalk or craft paints. Then, they can pick out what they’d like to plant in their pot – flowers, herbs or vegetables or a combination. Or, you can plant seeds, which is my favorite.

If you do, take a handful of Popsicle sticks and make labels for what you planted. Include the date so you can see how long it takes for things to sprout. Make a prediction about when you think this will happen and which ones you think will come up first.

Watching seeds sprout is really magical, but sometimes it is hard to wait. One super simple experiment you can do is to plant the same seeds indoors and out as a kind of sprouting race. You can also choose seeds that will germinate quickly and early in the season like peas and radishes.

Mix these with some edible flowers like nasturtium and marigold to ward off insects and make your garden colorful, too.

If you’re planting a garden in a larger plot or even in window boxes, it can be nice to draw a garden map to show what you’ve planted where. Draw on big sheets of butcher paper with colorful markers. You can use the pictures on the seed packets to help draw what you think the fruits or vegetables will look like. Then, hang your map somewhere inside where you can refer to it when checking on the garden.

One last thing we have enjoyed each spring is raising butterflies. You can buy a starter kit on Amazon that includes cups of live caterpillars. There’s nothing like your child discovering a box that says “Contains Live Animals” on your doorstep to get them excited.

In less than a month, you can watch painted lady butterflies emerge from their chrysalides. If you include some of their favorite plants in your garden, they may even stick around. Bee balm and coneflowers are just a couple of the bright varieties to try.

There is much to learn from planting and there are some great children’s books to read garden-side that provide insight and inspiration. Kate Messner’s “Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt” is a fun book that gets kids thinking about the all the things they cannot see that give rise to what is springing up from the dirt.

“Dig In!”, by Cindy Jensen-Elliot, is a good one to follow up with as it invites you to get dirty and explore the dirt. It is also a good read before treasure hunting in your garden.

And, if you’re hatching butterflies or are just entranced by than, Elly Mackay’s “Butterfly Park” is one of the most beautiful picture books out there. She creates intricate dioramas and photographs them for the illustrations.

Have fun gardening this spring and putting those little gardeners to work!

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