Kids and gardening are a recipe for fun in the sun. Garden activities are a great way to teach kids about nature, have some screen-free good times together, and plant seeds for the future—literally! And the sunny days of summer are the perfect time to get into gardening with kids. If you’re hosting a playdate or birthday party, or recreating summer camp at home, there are gardening activities that will thrill every kid in the group, whether they are into art, reading, or digging in the dirt. (And don’t tell the little ones, but gardening is fun for adults, too!)

Gardening Crafts

DIY Herb Garden with Painted Face Pots

Set out acrylic paints, paint pens, and herbs in terra cotta pots, and invite each kid to paint a portrait—theirs or a family member’s—on the pot! Then you can group them together in a DIY herb garden to snip from all year when you’re cooking, freezing herbal ice cubes for cocktails or mocktails, or muddling them for flavored lemonades.

Meaningful Herb Gifts

Herbs in painted pots make great gifts, too, especially because each herb is identified with a certain meaning. Print out our downloadable herb labels and fill in the blank ones as gift tags or with the significance of the herb for an extra thoughtful DIY gift for camp counselors, summer school teachers, friends, and family.

The Meaning of Common Herbs

  • Basil = Love
  • Chamomile = Comfort
  • Lavender = Devotion
  • Lemon Balm = Sympathy
  • Mint = Virtue
  • Oregano= Joy
  • Parsley = Gratitude
  • Rosemary = Remembrance
  • Sage = Wisdom
  • Thyme = Courage

Darcy Miller Designs, Camp Darcy, flowers

Pressed Flowers

Set kids loose in the garden or yard, telling them to pick wildflowers, grasses, herbs, and leaves. When they bring them back, tape the flowers to a piece of white paper, cover with a sheet of wax paper, and set that under a stack of heavy books. Come back at the end of the day and they’ve got pressed flowers they can:

–Tape to cards
–Laminate into book marks
–Frame between sheets of glass or wax paper as a suncatcher
–Preserve in a 3-D frame as a scrapbox

Darcy Miller Designs

Garden Art Class

Host a plein air drawing or photo class where kids pick something in the garden to paint, draw, or photograph. Kids—and adults—who love drawing can even keep an illustrated scrapbook of what grows in the garden or park all summer long. You could have a different art class every day of the week!

—Draw (or paint or photograph) the whole garden
—Pick one flower, fruit or herb and sketch it
—Have each child pick a different fruit or flower to draw, photograph or paint, learn about it and present what they’ve learned along with their artwork
—Choose a few fruits, herbs, flowers, or rocks and compose a still life
—Make a gift! Pick a bouquet, put it in a vase (or bottle or jar), paint a picture of the bouquet and give both to a friend, parent, or grandparent–they can enjoy the bouquet now and the painting forever!

Garden-Inspired Activities

Plan a Garden

Assess how much space you have, whether it’s a kitchen windowsill, an apartment balcony, or a large back yard, and pick a theme for a garden you’ll plan to plant whenever the time is right for the flowers, fruit, or herbs you have in mind. There are so many types to consider!

–Kitchen Herb Garden for the windowsill, to snip from as you cook
–Butterfly Garden full of nectar-rich plants like zinnias to attract flitting butterflies
Shakespeare Garden, like the one in New York City’s Central Park, full of flowers and herbs mentioned in the Bard’s plays and poems
–Biblical Garden, planted with flowers, fruit, and herbs that are namechecked in the Old and/or New Testaments

Garden Book Club or Story Hour

There are so many children’s and young adult’s books about gardening and gardens. Read from one every afternoon or pick one to finish over the summer and discuss! Older kids can research titles for themselves and for younger kids, but here are a few to get you started!


Garden-Inspired Food

Darcy Miller Designs

Vegetable Bug Snacks “Garden Party”

Even kids who are all-french-fries-all-the-time will be charmed by these vegetable bug snacks. Assemble each snack, print out our downloadable speech bubbles (or write your own!) and group them together in a “garden party” so kids can imagine scenes and play with the cute critters while happily eating their veggies.

Edible Flower Pots

Top chocolate cupcakes—or muffin cups, ramekins, or flower pots filled with brownies—with our downloadable flower topper templates you can cut, print, and “plant.” Edible flower pots are a fun cooking project activity to do with kids—these are especially garden appropriate because they’re avocado brownies from Tiffani Theissen’s cookbook, Pull Up A Chair! And they also make great centerpieces and favors for birthday parties, bridal or baby showers, casual weddings, or picnics. You can even use paint pens to write names on the pots, or follow our DIY Herb Garden Face Pots advice and paint a portrait on each!

Other fun flower-and-herb “cooking” activities to do with kids include using edible flowers and melted chocolate to make edible flower bark and freezing herbs or edible flowers into ice cubes. Use your imagination and you never know what ideas will bloom!