One thing I am anxiously awaiting about the spring is the opportunity to start our first vegetable garden! Unfortunately, I do not have a green thumb, and my somewhat pitiful previous attempts have not yielded many results. Before Little Lion came along I never could find the motivation to learn about what it takes to be successful and to get out there in the dirt.

But now that I am a parent, I am seeing gardening in a new light... not as a chore, but as an activity with many wonderful benefits. As a stay at home mom I know that I will have more time than parents who also have full time jobs, but I hope I can convince you that gardening with your kids is worth it, even if all you have time for is a couple small pots on your porch.

1.  It can be easy! - As I have started researching for our own garden, I am learning that getting started doesn't have to be as hard as I thought! Container gardens can produce vegetables and flowers just as easily as large flower beds. Children don't need a huge plot of land to reap the benefits of gardening. It is okay to start small! A small container garden can easily be maintained with short amounts of time in the afternoon or on weekends.

2.  It draws out children's natural curiosity- Watching a seed change to a plant before their eyes is pure magic to children. Plants that grow and change quickly will be especially miraculous to little ones.

3. It teaches children to be gentle - Children old enough to understand cause and effect will learn quickly how fragile their small plants are. Most children will want to nurture and care for their plants, and will go to great lengths to use their "gentle hands" when working in their garden.

4. It teaches children to be patient - Plants take time to grow and develop. Children will want to see results right away, but gardening provides an opportunity to show children that sometimes things take time, and that the results are worth the wait.

5. It connects us with nature - In today's go-go-go world, it is easy to become disconnected from the natural world around us. More and more time is spent inside. Gardening is an opportunity to get outdoors, to dig our hands in the dirt, and to experience the earth in a unique way.

6. It is a chance to get messy - As long as you are gardening without chemicals, there is no reason not to allow your children to dig their hands into the soil. Playing in the dirt is an incredible sensory experience!

7. It is a chance for the even smallest children to produce something tangible and important - Children thrive when they are allowed to participate in meaningful work. Seeing the results of that work over time helps build a child's confidence and self esteem in a very authentic way.

8. It provides children a safe place to try new things and experiment (important science skills!) - Children are full of questions and are constantly wondering about what would happen if variables changed ("I wonder what would happen if we didn't water our plant today." "What would happen if I planted these in the shade instead of in the sun?") Gardening gives them a safe place to experiment  when we are willing to give them the independence to test their theories.

9. It provides authentic opportunities for reading and writing - Children who are invested in their garden will want to learn more about how to care for it, or about why certain things are happening. This is an incredible opportunity for research. Children can also journal and draw about what is happening in their garden.

10. It encourages children to try the foods they grow! - Kids can't wait to taste the vegetables that they grow themselves! They may discover that they like things that they were unwilling to try before. And what kid doesn't need a few more veggies in their diet.

Since we don't have any pictures of Little Lion in our garden yet,  I asked some friends to share pictures of their kiddos doing some gardening for this post instead Thanks for sharing your cuties!

Do you garden with your little ones?