Words and Photos By Rita Chavez
Spring has finally come and many of us are seeing new signs of life starting to grow outdoors. If your children are like mine, they will probably be enchanted by the new leaves and buds on trees, and the stalks blooming out of flower beds. There are some great ways to help your children embrace their love of nature, and spring time is a wonderful time to start! It is a great time to start planting outdoors, and many nurseries and grocery stores are starting to stock a greater selection of houseplants. But fear not, if you don’t have the greenest of thumbs, there are still ways you can bring a little green into your home with your children if caring for plants is not your forte!
For those that want to get down and dirty, and spend some time out in the sunshine in the dirt, a fantastic choice for your children to plant is sunflowers! Most nurseries and hardware stores carry sunflower seed packets, and they are relatively easy to grow. Sunflowers are a great lesson in patience for the little ones, as they will not start to bloom until late summer or fall, but the reward is HUGE! It would be fun to have your little ones help measure how tall the stalks grow throughout the summer, and to also measure how big the blooms become!
Snake plants are a low maintenance house plant option that grows quickly.
If you are looking for an option to bring a little greenery into your home, and also have little ones who won’t want to wait all summer for sunflowers to grow, an easy and useful plant to have inside is green onions. Yes, green onions like the bunch you purchase in the produce section at the grocery store! Once you have used the stalks of the green onions in the kitchen (there are so many dishes you can add green onions to), just stick the bulbs with the little root ends facing down in a glass of water and set in a sunny location (be sure the bulbs are not fully submerged, but the water line is above the roots). Change the water every few days and making sure the water level does not fall below the roots, and in about 2-3 weeks you will have new, fresh green onions to use in the kitchen! It is a fun task to have your little ones help with changing the water, the growth is quick enough that it will keep them engaged and excited, and there is no potting soil to deal with.
Jade Plants are a great first plant for children to grow.
For larger, low maintenance, decorative houseplants, Snake plants (Sansevieria) and ZZ plants (Zamioculcas zamifolia) are some gorgeous options. These plants are sometimes referred to as plants of steel, as they can tolerate lower light conditions and miss waterings. The snake plant is an interesting, tall and slender succulent that grows in groups, and can really make a statement in a room, and the ZZ plant has rubbery shiny leaves on firm stalks. Older children who would like to take on the task of caring for houseplants would do well with these options. It is recommended to let the soil of both of these plants dry out before a thorough watering, and although they do well in lower light, they still do enjoy the sun most! Also, if you do have dogs or cats, these plants are toxic to them if ingested, so they should be kept out of reach of the furry friends.
Rock cacti are fun to make and require no maintenance!
Last but not least, if you can’t bring live plants into your home or don’t have a green thumb, your little ones can still bring that aesthetic indoors by painting their own “cacti!” All you will need for this project is acrylic paint, paint brushes, small terra cotta pots, river rocks (long flat ones work best), and decorative sand or small river pebbles. A day outdoors searching for the perfect river rocks is a great way to spend a spring day, enjoying nature, and once your little ones have those chosen rocks, you can bring them in and get to work! Once the rocks are cleaned and dried, they can paint these green, and add the little details. The rocks will serve as the actual “cactus” and will be set into the pot. You can have your children also paint the terra cotta pots if they want to add their own touch to the décor. Once your rocks and pots are painted and dried, it is optional to add a layer of Mod Podge (if you will put them outdoors, this is recommended to preserve the art). Then fill the pot with the decorative sand or pebbles, and stick the little “cactus” rocks right into the sand! Your kids now have cute little table top planters to keep in their room or bathroom, and you don’t have to worry about watering!
I hope you enjoy some of these ideas with your little ones to bring some spring into your home!
Rita is an Army wife of ten years and a mom to two little girls. She graduated from University of Hawaii: West Oahu in 2010 with a Bachelor’s of Applied Science in Public Administration, but has a passion for helping animals and most recently worked for the oldest no-kill animal shelter in San Antonio, TX. As a recent military move led her family to bid goodbye to San Antonio, she now volunteers with The Carrying On Project in Fort Drum, NY, where she shares her love and knowledge of babywearing with other caregivers. When she is not volunteering, Rita enjoys taking photos of her daughters and dogs, and her hobbies include cooking and crafting.
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