“Mom, I’m bored!!!” Ah, the sweet sounds of summer; right, parents?

Are your kids content to sit on the couch, face-first into the tablet/phone/TV? We have some great suggestions for you to really engage your kiddos in what nature gives us outside. You don’t need a big budget– heck, you don’t even have to leave your yard!

The long days and great weather provide a great opportunity to ditch the typical time-wasters and get outside for some family-friendly activities from toddlers to teens that not only bring you together, but also provide beauty and bounty all summer long!

Bringing In The Harvest

It’s no secret that raising your own food in a garden is rewarding for a number of reasons, but bringing your kids in the loop will help them appreciate the labor it takes to farm, and you’ll see their pride when they are able to harvest their own vegetables!

You don’t need a lot of space to have a good garden. What is key is using an area appropriate for the plants you want raise– proper light exposure, good soil and regular watering. You can start with a small plot, or even just set a tomato plant in a pot on the porch! You can pick up raised garden kits from most home improvement stores, and there are a variety of options to create an easy-to-maintain garden space. 

It’s important to find high-interest plants that the kids will be able to see develop, as well as have an interest in eating the fruits of their labor. Cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and strawberries are all fun to watch develop from plant to bloom to fruit.

Share in the labor! Teach your children how to properly set the plants, and when and how much to water them. Be sure to show them how to properly use and store the garden tools, too.

Your garden doesn’t have to be all about the food, either; flower gardens are a fun way to bring some color and energy to your living space. If you have room, set up a wildflower plot and create a natural space that attracts butterflies and pollinators. It’s fun to watch them enjoy your creation! For more tips on teaching kids to garden, click here.

Repurpose and Recycle

With summer sports, vacation plans, increased daycare costs and everything else that’s going on, summer can tap your budget, but you can create wonderful things from items you already have around the house.

Remember when the kids were little and played in that little turtle sandbox? Now it’s just sitting in the yard, yearning for toddlers while your pre-teens are off doing other things. Let’s repurpose that cute turtle for a small herb garden, flower bed or edible garden! Have the kids make signs, designating what plants are what, and before you know it, that little turtle will feel the joy of your kids’ attention once more.

Save several milk jugs and you can use them to create an herb garden. It’s a great way to reuse plastics and create a space for some fresh summer herbs that go great with your favorite recipes! Check out this blog at Grillo Designs for the how-to.

Create An Alien Landscape

Small succulents, cacti and carnivorous plants create a “whoa, cool” factor with kids and adults. Their unique coloration, growth patterns and structures make for an other-wordly look that can really dress up a space, indoor and out. 

The popularity of these unique plants has risen over the last several years, too, and so it is easier to find growers with a wide variety. Check out your local farmer’s markets as well as gardening stores for some smaller, unique plants. Let the kids pick them out, and then use a larger planter to create a landscape full of plants, stones, characters and pretty much anything you want! The plants are easy to care for, but make sure you follow the directions for lighting and watering. Before you know it, you will all create new micro-worlds for everyone to enjoy!

Do It For The Insects

We talked briefly about a wildflower garden for butterflies and bees; check with your local conservation department for tips and tricks on what works best in your area. Chances are, they even have some seeds to help you get started!

Beyond the wildflowers, however, there are other projects you can create to attract beneficial insects to your yard. One super-cute idea comes from HGTV, and that is a ladybug hotel! Click here for the how-to.

There really is a limitless supply of ideas out there to engage with your kids and enjoy the outdoors this summer. You take pride in your home, yard and garden, right? Share that love with your children, and pretty soon you’ll see that pride reflected in them as well. So much to do; now get out there and have an adventure!