May 23, 2020 6:00:08 AM
When the contents of the sandpit are all over the patio, the trampoline has lost its bounce and the little ones are short of something to do, there’s a plethora of gardening books out there with activities to engage them.
As National Children’s Gardening Week begins today, here’s a selection of reads for all ages of children to help them dig for victory.
RHS Get Growing by Holly Farrell (Frances Lincoln, £14.99)
This easy-to-use family guide to gardening covers everything from how plants work to identifying plants, growing easy fruit and veg and getting children to take part in creating wildlife gardens.
If your child is arty, the book offers projects showing them how to decorate clay pots and coasters. If they’re interested in food, there’s an array of suggestions, from how to grow edible flowers to designing a herb garden. And if they are fascinated by wildlife, they can learn how to make a garden for minibeasts and birds, or create a pond in a bucket.
They’ll probably need help from an adult to start them off, but the activities aren’t difficult and should help them reconnect with nature. The book strikes an excellent balance between education and fun.
I Ate Sunshine For Breakfast by Michael Holland and illustrated by Philip Giordano (Flying Eye Books, £14.99)
Expert ecologist and educator Michael Holland shares this brightly illustrated guide to plants around the world, enabling children to become more acquainted with their leafy neighbours and showing how plants help create everything from rubber to honey.
It features DIY projects for young gardeners including the fun-filled messy business of creating cornflour slime; exploring the effects of freezing conditions on deciduous and evergreen trees; upcycling using jars, bottles and tins as well as collecting seeds from the foods you eat; and how to make a power plant with a potato.
The Book Of Brilliant Bugs by Jess French (DK, £14.99)
This offering is ideal for little ones who are fascinated with creepy crawlies and want to learn more about them.
Featuring everything from honey bees to crickets, spiders to beetles, it explains how bugs are huge contributors to our planet and can survive almost anywhere, including high up in the mountains and deep underwater.
In easy-to-understand language, French explores the crucial role bugs play at the start of the food chain, their importance as pollinators helping plants grow and looks at the predatory bugs which keep pests at bay.
Gardening With Emma by Emma Biggs (Storey Publishing, £14.99)
Kids can relate to other kids, right? So this fun guide written by the 14-year-old gardening ace who has her own blog should tick the boxes. With a little help from her dad, Steve, she offers simple projects from step-by-step bug catchers, to growing all your pizza ingredients. In just one year, she grew 68 varieties of tomato.
Raising the coolest plants is also a big focus of the book. She features everything from species that tickle and make noise, to vegetables ranging from the tiniest to colossal, providing lots of useful know-how about soil, sowing, and caring for a garden throughout the seasons, along with ways to make play spaces among the plants.
Aimed at eight to 12-year-olds, lively photography helps capture the authentic creativity of a child who loves to be outdoors, digging in the dirt.
Under Your Feet by Dr Jackie Stroud (DK in association with RHS, £9.99)
This book for slightly younger readers is awash with fantastic facts about soil, worms and other organisms, cleverly punctuated with illustrations in earthy shades, along with things your children didn’t know about the secret world underground.
Did your child know, for instance, that worm poo in soil helps plants grow? Or that ant colonies can join up to form super-colonies which can stretch for thousands of miles?
The book takes an entertaining look at how animals build their homes under the ground and how plants survive in adverse conditions, as well as how fungi can grow to be the size of the forest.
All these weird and wonderful facts will hopefully prompt your children to seek these creatures out in the garden, from spineless invertebrates to woodlice, spiders and molluscs, as well as seeing the soil and its importance in a different light. Ideal for budding young scientists.
You Can Grow Your Own Food by Annabelle Padwick (Collins, out June 11, £7.99)
The perfect go-to book for children who are curious about gardening, this new addition to the You Can series is packed with gardening projects and easy tips on how to grow fruit, veg and herbs outside and indoors. The book has space to scribble and draw, so children can design their own gardens and keep track of their progress.
The author founded the social enterprise, Life at No.27 in 2019 to provide gardening and wellbeing-based therapy for children and adults struggling with low confidence and mental health issues.
National Children’s Gardening Week runs from May 23-31. For details visit childrensgardeningweek.co.uk