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Creating a Toddler Garden

Children learn by doing and emulating what you do. My youngest loves to go outside barefoot, run through mud, and play with sticks. When I began planting our garden this year, he was right in the middle of it all, inspecting and investigating everything! We love his curiosity and want to foster and encourage it, so he and I took an old, worn sandbox from the previous owners of our home and turned it into his very own garden.

Transforming an Old Sandbox into a Toddler Garden

If you have an old sandbox, you can easily convert it into a garden for your little one. Here’s how we did it:

1. Clean It Out: We dumped out the repulsive old sand and gave the sandbox a thorough cleaning.

2. Create Layers: We placed the sandbox lid inside the bowl upside down and layered soil under and over it, creating a two-tiered space to work with.

The key to this garden space is to focus on the kid's enjoyment rather than the yield it can produce. Here’s how we made it fun and engaging for our toddler:

Making the Garden Toddler-Friendly

- Add Fun Elements: Our toddler garden is filled with dinosaur friends and play vehicles. Since vehicles need a road, we created one using gravel. Sticks are placed in the soil as well, representing who-knows-what, but they are an essential part of his stick collection.

- Involve Them in Seed Selection: Picking out seeds together is a wonderful way to get children interested in gardening. Present a preselected set of seeds you know will grow well in the space and with the light the garden receives.

Benefits of a Toddler Garden

1. Encourages Trying New Vegetables: Kids are more likely to try vegetables they’ve grown themselves. This garden space is an instance where they can put things in their mouths!

2. Incorporates Play with Gardening: While you’re tending to your garden crops, your toddlers can do the same, incorporating regular play into their gardening activities.

3. Fosters Learning and Curiosity: Creating a "yes" garden space for your toddler encourages a wonderful learning environment and fosters curiosity.

Adapting the Garden as They Grow

This garden can grow with your child. Each year, let them redesign and play around with the space. As they get older, they may want to add more plants or play structures. Let your child take the lead on what they want to see in their garden space.

Alternative Frugal Options

If you don’t have access to an old sandbox, there are plenty of frugal alternatives:

- Pile of Dirt and a Cardboard Box: This simple setup can get you through a season.

-Cinder Block Square: Arrange old cinder blocks in a square and fill the space and block hollows with dirt.

-Old Clay Pots: Arrange a grouping of old pots together to create a multilayered surface, I've seen some adorable fairy gardens constructed like this.

- Milk Jug on a Balcony: Cut off the top and fill it with soil.

No matter what you have to work with, invite your children into your projects. It may take longer, and you may have to redo some things, but the memories you make together will be irreplaceable. By creating a toddler garden, you’re not only fostering their curiosity and learning but also building a foundation of love for gardening and nature that can last a lifetime. Happy gardening!


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