April 2019

The Home & Garden Issue

The Home & Garden Issue


As we continue through the school year, celebrating the success of our students, preparing for state testing and planning for high school graduations, it is the perfect time to reflect on the dedication of our support employees throughout the district. They may not be standing in front of your children on a daily basis, but it is their work that helps all of us do ours better each day.

Getting to recognize all of the School-Related Employees of the Year is an annual highlight for me. These employees are so important in fulfilling the mission of our district. They are the individuals who keep our schools and grounds clean, transport our students safely to and from school, feed our students nutritious meals, assist in the classroom, help out in the media centers, take care of administrative details, handle front office duties, update our data, keep our schools safe, and monitor and ensure the health and well-being of our students. The applications are varied in skills and abilities, but the love for children resonates in them all and it makes for a very daunting task for the judges.

Tim Forson, Superintendent of Schools, St. Johns County School District

This year’s St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) School-Related Employee of the Year is Staci Boyer, a confidential secretary/bookkeeper for Principal Allen Anderson at Freedom Crossing Academy. In early 2018, she and her principal left their previous positions to take on the overwhelming task of opening a new K-8 school. Greeting students, working with teachers, creating job postings, entering purchase orders, overseeing fundraisers and ensuring that her principal has the support he needs to be successful are just some of her daily duties.

Enthusiastic, dedicated and insanely creative are words used to describe Ms. Boyer. She is always willing to help and has the trust of her principal, teachers and peers to carry out complex tasks with minimal supervision. She organizes events regularly and never takes her focus off of doing what’s right for the students she serves. Her principal lauds her loyalty and her ability foster the family setting throughout the school and community. She is a very valued team member in the SJCSD and her strong work ethic and commitment to doing whatever is needed to get the job done are just a sample of what makes her an excellent candidate for consideration at the state level.

Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship, all six CHARACTER COUNTS! pillars are celebrated this month. I encourage you to engage in activities where you and your children can display and focus on any of the pillars. I sign off with our mission this month to echo the importance of the six pillars: The SJCSD will inspire good character and a passion for lifelong learning in all students, creating educated and caring contributors to the world.


We have had a great school year so far. I have had the opportunity to visit dozens of classrooms in our Volusia County Schools and see all the wonderful, educational activities.

February was Black History Month. All month long, our schools engaged in arts and crafts, presentations, and focused on the wonderful and groundbreaking contributions of African Americans in our country’s history.

As the school year progresses, we want families with young children to know it’s not too early to start thinking about summer VPK programs. The School District of Volusia County will provide a free Voluntary Prekindergarten Program this summer for families of incoming kindergartners who have not taken advantage of the state’s free Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Program. Studies have shown that students who attend VPK generally do significantly better in kindergarten than students who did not participate in VPK. Registration takes place at the student’s home zoned school during early registration between the hours 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5; Thursday, March 7 and Wednesday, March 27. The following sites may be selected during registration: Indian River (Edgewater); Palm Terrace (Daytona); Spirit (Deltona); Sugar Mill (Port Orange); Woodward (Deland) elementary schools.

James T. Russell, Superintendent of Volusia Schools

The program will operate 4 four days per week, from Monday through Thursday, beginning Monday, June 10 to Thursday, August 1. School hours are scheduled for 7:37 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Although breakfast and lunch are served free to all children, transportation is not provided. To participate, a child must:

• Be 5 years-old on or before September 1, 2019;

• Be a resident of Volusia County; and

• Have a current, valid summer 2019 Certificate of Eligibility from the Early Learning Coalition of Flagler and Volusia Counties – (386) 323-2400, (386) 736-5010 or www.elcfv.org

For more information, call (386) 734-7190, extension 33210, or visit the school district’s website at http://myvolusiaschools.org. Click on the “Parents” icon. Once there, click on “Programs” in the Toolbox, and then select “Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK).” “Summer VPK” is listed in the menu on the left.

Thank you and enjoy this edition of Volusia Parent Magazine.


Dear Friends,

There is something magical about the time we spend with our families, especially when we are working on a project together, and right now is the perfect time to teach our children about the wonders of nature in your own backyard.

Whether you choose to visit your local garden center or big box retailer, seeds, flowering plants and herbs are lining the shelves, ready for you to begin. This month, we hope you take a moment to glean ideas on starting your own garden project with your children and help them cultivate a lifelong enjoyment of gardening.

Offering a chance to create memories filled with the earthy scent of digging in the dirt while preparing your garden, the joy of planting a packet of seeds or the fledgling young plants, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with their tender care as your children watch them grow, you give them an up close look at the cycle of life. “Dig This: 10 Big Benefits of Gardening with Kids” is an excellent reminder of all that working together brings to the family.

Growing up, there was always a feeling of excitement as we prepared to work in the garden together on a Saturday, picking mint and basil or pulling weeds, and “Four Fantastic Gardening Mini-Projects to Do with Your Kids” makes it easy to get started, no matter the size of your garden or the age of your little ones.

Of course, this time of year isn’t complete without the task of spring cleaning, and “Get Your Green Clean On: 19 Easy and Eco-friendly Tips,” gives the whole family a chance to get in on the action. After reading this article, you’ll be a pro at motivating your family to help tackle the chore, and we guarantee it will be mixed with plenty of humor.

We hope you enjoy this issue of Parent Magazine!


Dr. Barbara C. Holley
Editor, Parent Magazines

Dr. Barbara C. Holley

We also want to recognize you – our readers! Your calls, emails and social media messages have given us great feedback. We hope you will continue to let us know what you want to read and see. Be sure to visit our Facebook page @StJohnsParentMagazine, and after liking/following, be sure to share our digital guides and stories with your friends and family.

Stephanie Robinson (Business Manager), Debbie Trask (Account Executive – Flagler and St. Johns Counties), Barbara Holley (Editor), Howard Holley (Publisher), Jeanne Coates (Managing Editor) and Gabrielle Gonzalez (Account Executive – Volusia County)

We also want to recognize you – our readers! Your calls, emails and social media messages have given us great feedback. We hope you will continue to let us know what you want to read and see. Be sure to visit our Facebook page @StJohnsParentMagazine, and after liking/following, be sure to share our digital guides and stories with your friends and family.

Look for our Annual Health and Wellness issue this summer, available in racks throughout the community and on our website at ParentMagazineFlorida.com and app (St. Johns Parent). If you subscribe as a Parent Digital Subscriber, you will receive a link when it is available, a Weekly Things To Do eNewsletter and a Monthly Flagler Parent eNewsletter. It is the best way to make sure you do not miss anything!

In this issue, we are celebrating Moms and bringing you ideas for a fun-filled and productive summer.

We are honored to be able to give you this publication, and we hope May brings you sunshine and flowers!

Say Yes to Yoga with kids & Families

If you think yoga is about flexibility, challenging poses, and a Zen attitude, you’ve got part of it. Yoga has physical and emotional benefits for people of all ages, including children.

“Getting kids involved in yoga and meditation is a life-long win for them. Both yoga and meditation teach kids the benefits of fitness, but they are also valuable coping skills that kids can key into during life’s challenges,” says yoga teacher Kerin Monaco.

Find Serenity, Strength, and Self-Confidence

Monaco started practicing yoga herself in high school to combat crippling anxiety that cropped up around SATs and college applications. She went on to teach yoga and recently began to share yoga with her young family. When her daughter was 9 months old, Monaco started to practice with her on the mat, where they both loved the peaceful energy that yoga brings.

That peaceful energy is one of the key reasons adults practice yoga, and that calm is great for kids too. That’s not the only benefit though. Yoga teacher Katy Dagle says that for younger kids, yoga builds coordination, balance, and self-regulation. For older kids, yoga continues to help with coordination and balance and also helps build flexibility, strength, and self-confidence. The emotional benefits can be especially helpful in the challenging tween and teen years.

In addition to these physical and emotional benefits, yoga can help develop values, such as honesty and nonviolence. These values are an integral part of yoga that is often overlooked, but they can be an added benefit to families practicing together.

Get Kids Started with Classes

Both Monaco and Dagle recommend classes for kids. An experienced teacher helps children learn poses correctly and can offer modifications or adjustments to things that don’t feel right. Kids (and grown-ups) should be reminded to do what feels right for their body. Not every child can do every pose, and some days a familiar pose is harder than others.

Yoga is noncompetitive. Teachers should help kids focus on their own practice every day and create a supportive environment. As Dagle reminds her students, “yoga is a practice not a perfect.”

To find kids classes, check with local yoga studios, gyms, or YMCAs. Monaco took her daughter to My Gym, a franchise that caters to fitness for children 10 and under. Dagle’s studio offers classes for kids of different ages. Other options include Mommy and Me classes if you have a baby and adult classes for tweens and teens. (Some studios have an age restriction, so it’s good to check first.)

Once familiar with yoga, kids can use videos and yoga cards to practice at home. See the sidebar, “Yoga Tips and Tools for the Whole Family,” for tips on starting a family practice.

Practice Anywhere

Classes provide a safe introduction to yoga and ongoing support, but the beauty of yoga is that you can practice any place and any time. Here are two practices you can do anywhere:

Breathe: Breathing can be centering, energizing, or calming. For parents, try breathing deeply while holding an upset child. Monaco says “When my daughter is fussy, deep breathing with her in my arms works every time.” Dagle uses “flower breathing” with her toddler: sniff a flower and let it go with a sigh, to help diffuse
big emotions.

Dagle teaches older kids to use breathing exercises to calm themselves before a test. She encourages them to put their feet firmly on the ground at their desk, inhale for a count of four, and exhale for a count of six for one minute to help them feel both calm and grounded.

Be present: Practice mindfulness and being present. That means noticing your environment. There are lots of ways to practice this with kids—you don’t even have to call it mindfulness.

Sit quietly together or go for a walk, and see what you notice. Try closing your eyes. What sounds and smells do you sense?

Turn off your phone and spend some time doing an activity with your kids, whether it’s reading, coloring, dancing, snuggling, or building. Just focus on what you’re doing, with no distractions.

Describe something familiar as if it were new. In an exercise from Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children by Thich Nhat Hanh, kids pretend they are Martians seeing something from Earth for the first time. Hand your kids a familiar object (the book uses raisins, but you can use any simple object or food kids “see” every day). Remind them that they have never seen it before. Ask them to look, touch, smell, listen, and taste and describe their experience.

Yoga builds strength and flexibility, self-confidence and focus. Kids get comfortable in and connected to their own bodies and minds, and learn practices that they use for the rest of their lives. What’s not to say Yes to?

Yoga Tips and Tools for the Whole Family

Yoga benefits everyone. If you’ve practiced yoga before, it’s time to restart your practice. If you haven’t, why not try it yourself or as a family?

Tips for Parents

• Get back on the mat after having a baby. Monaco encourages new moms to get back on the mat as soon as your doctor gives the OK. The longer you wait, the less likely you are to get back. Just remember to meet your practice where it is. Your body has been through a lot.

• Practice with your kids around. Monaco put her daughter on the mat with her as a baby. Dagle spreads out her mat in the playroom and practices while her kids play around (and under and over) her. If you’re used to a peaceful yoga studio, practicing with your kids around will be different, but you still benefits from your practice.

• Remember that your yoga is good for your kids. Dagle says, “When I make the time to practice, I’m a better parent when I’m with my kids.” It may feel selfish to take that time for a class or home practice, but it’s worth it.

Tips for Families

• Keep it fun. Use yoga songs and games. Let kids pick or even lead poses. Go with the flow. If energy levels are high, try some poses or actions to use some of that energy before shifting to something calmer.

• Remember you can practice anywhere. Remind kids to use their breathing when they are getting frustrated. If you can’t get kids to take a deep breath, try taking calming breaths yourself. It helps keep you from getting worked up and helps change the dynamic in the room. Try mindfulness on long car trips or while waiting in line. Practice kindness and nonviolence.

Tools for Everyone

Here are a few resources to help your family develop your practice:


Baby Om by Laura Staton

Little Flower Yoga for Kids by Jennifer Cohen Harper

Peaceful Piggy Meditation by Kerry Lee McLean

Practicing Mindfulness with Children by Thich Nhat Hanh

Sitting Still Like a Frog by Eline Snel

Yoga Mama, Yoga Baby by Margo Shapiro Bachman

Yoga Pretzels, pose deck


YogaJournal.com (Poses)  |  YogaGlo.com

Sara Barry

Sara Barry is a writer who planted her first garden when she was five and hasn’t stopped. Her kids help with everything from planning and planting to picking and eating (though nobody loves weeding).

Get Your Green Clean On: 19 Easy and Eco-friendly Tips

What if the microwave cleaned itself, the shower never grew mold or stains disappeared from white clothing? The following green cleaning hacks deliver the look and fresh feeling of a spic and span house without harsh chemicals or hard work. In fact, some of these tricks are so effortless parents can relax and enjoy some self-care time! Or, since there are no caustic cleaners, children can help. Either way, spring-cleaning will be a breeze.


1. Remove dried on food particles from the microwave without scrubbing. Place two lemon halves and half a cup of water in the microwave. Heat for five minutes. When the time is up, wait 15 minutes with the microwave door shut. Open and wipe with a dry cloth. Watch baked on food slide off.

2. Make a stainless steel sink sparkle by sprinkling baking soda in it. Gently scrub, then rinse away. Soak dishrags in white vinegar and place in your sink and on the faucets. Wait 15 minutes, and then wipe out the sink. The vinegar will remove water spots and leave the sink shiny.

3. Line the bottom of the kitchen garbage can with newspaper to soak up spills and catch food scraps.

4. Cover refrigerator shelves with food wrap. When there is a spill, peel away the food wrap. No more scrubbing sticky spots out of the fridge.

5. Put warm water and a few drops of dish liquid in a dirty blender. With the lid on, turn on blender. Dump the dirty water, rinse, and presto! – you’re done.


6. Disinfect the toilet by sprinkling baking soda in the bowl. Scrub the bowl and under the rim with a toilet brush at night before going to bed. Pour in a cup of white vinegar causing a foaming action. While you sleep, let the vinegar and baking soda do the work! Flush in
the morning.

7. Keep mildew from growing in a clean shower by wiping it down with a dry hand towel after each use, saving hours of scrubbing later. For a dirty shower, mix equal parts white vinegar and dish washing liquid and use a sponge to gently scrub the shower with the mixture, then rinse. However, don’t use vinegar on marble or natural stone.

8. Hate mildew on your plastic shower curtain liner? Wash it in the gentle cycle of your washing machine on warm and hang to dry. To keep mildew from growing back, spray the liner with equal parts of water and vinegar.

9. Clean crusty bathroom faucets by soaking cleaning rags with white vinegar. Wrap the rags around the faucets and wait 30 minutes. Scrub hardened water deposits away gently with a toothbrush and rinse.


10. Add one-half cup of white vinegar to half a gallon warm water to mop your kitchen floor. Don’t like the smell of vinegar? Add a few drops of essential oil to the water. Again, don’t use vinegar on natural stone or marble and test an inconspicuous area before mopping a hardwood floor.


11. Clean blinds by making a solution with equal parts water and vinegar. Spray or soak some of the solution on an old sock and wipe the blinds with it.

12. Forget scrubbing – use a squeegee to clean windows and mirrors. Put a squirt of dish washing liquid in approximately half a bucket of water. Use a sponge to apply the soapy water. Squeegee off for streak-free windows.

Furniture and Fixtures

13. Use squeegees to remove embedded pet hair from furniture and carpets.

14. Use your iron to get out unsightly water rings on furniture! Empty all the water out of the iron and put on high. Cover the water stain with a white pillowcase. Move the hot iron back and forth over the pillowcase. The spot will disappear.

15. Trap dust rather than relocate it with a Microfiber mitt. When done, toss the mitt in the washer, but don’t use fabric softener on it.

16. Dust fan blades with a pillowcase. Pull the pillowcase over the entire fan blade and wrap tightly. Pull down and off the blade. The dust clumps will be trapped in the pillowcase instead of falling through the air.


17. Stubborn stains on your favorite white outfit? Wash and hang the garment out to dry in the sun for a few hours. The sun will bleach the stain and brighten dingy whites. This also works on colored fabric, but don’t leave it in the sun too long because the colors will fade.


18. Wash plastic toys in the dishwasher using an eco-friendly dishwashing detergent.

19. Dust dirty stuffed animals with baking soda and put in a pillowcase for an hour. Remove the stuffed animals and vacuum with an attachment tool. Voila! The baking powder deodorizes the toys and soaks up oily spots.

Once the house is spotless in record time, relax, have a latte, and get outside in the spring sunshine!

Janeen Lewis

Janeen Lewis is a freelance journalist and mother of two. She loves to teach gardening to children.

Dig This: 10 Big Benefits of Gardening With Kids

Most parents want their children to get outside away from phones, TV and video games, and gardening is a great way to achieve this goal. However, recent research shows that there are several other reasons to start a garden with kids. The benefits range from making kids smarter to making them healthier. Here are 10 great reasons to get kids gardening:

Students who garden score higher on science tests.

Gardening is full of science. Children learn about plant classification, weather, soil, and plant pests and disease. They are introduced to botany in a natural, hands-on way, and recent research shows that students who had gardening experiences as part of their school curriculum did better on standardized science tests than students who were not exposed to gardening in school.

If they grow it, they will eat it.

As a teacher, I’ve taught STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and have served as a Junior Master Garden club leader. In these roles, I witnessed the “if they grow it, they will eat it” phenomenon. Students love to dig up what they have grown, and then curiosity gets the better of them – they want to taste it.

Master Gardener Beth Tovi volunteered to mentor students in the garden for eight years at the elementary school where she served as a media specialist. She sees the nutritional and health benefits children gain from gardening.

“With the growing concerns about obesity, diabetes, and even high blood pressure in children, gardening gets them physically active and outdoors. And children will eat anything they grow – even if it’s green.”

Digging in the dirt can make kids healthier.

Several studies show that children who were raised on farms don’t have as many respiratory allergies, asthma, or autoimmune disorders as children who were raised in urban areas because children who live on farms are exposed to more microbes and fungi in the dirt. Letting children get outside and get in the dirt may actually make them healthier than keeping them tidy, clean and inside.

Gardening strengthens emotional and interpersonal skills.

Children who garden learn responsibility, patience, perseverance and how to deal with disappointment if the garden doesn’t grow the way they expected. How do they collaborate with other siblings, friends, or schoolmates to get the garden work done? These are character-building skills that research shows children reap in the garden.

One year, I witnessed this at a school garden when we had a drought. Watering the plants and trying to keep them healthy was an arduous task, and the students and I learned about perseverance and teamwork.

Gardening connects children with nature.

When children garden they gain ownership in what they are cultivating. I have seen my own children grow “attached” to the plants in the containers on our patio garden. As children become more knowledgeable about all the living things in the garden, they are less likely to be afraid of touching the plants, getting soil on their hands or being near bugs. They are no longer afraid of the unknown when they become familiar with what is in the garden.

Gardening helps relieve stress for the whole family.

A garden can be therapeutic. Your fourth grader isn’t battling traffic, raising children or feeling the demands of a pressure-ridden job, but even kids can feel stress, and the garden is good for eliminating it. In fact, a study in the Netherlands showed that after 30 minutes of gardening, subjects who had shown stress before they gardened had a “fully restored” positive mood. And if the adults in the family are feeling stressed and they garden with their children, it can help the whole family feel more harmonious.

Gardening teaches kids to problem-solve.

“When they garden, children learn problem-solving skills,” Tovi says. “They say ‘This trellis doesn’t work very well. How can we make one that will better support this kind of plant?’”

In a garden, children ask questions like “What is eating this plant?” or “Is this tree dying?”

Once children become absorbed in solving the problems in a garden, they want to research to find the best answers.

“They become sleuths, starting in the garden and heading into the computers,” Tovi says.

Gardening is a good work out.

Gardening is good physical labor involving muscles that don’t always get a workout. Even the most seasoned gym-goer may admit to being sore the day after working in a garden. Gardening involves stretching, bending, digging, lifting, pulling and raking. Gross and fine motor skills are used, and even the youngest gardener, with simple tasks, gets physical activity.

Gardening helps children become environmental stewards.

When children start reaping the food and flowers that come from a garden, they realize a garden’s impact on them and their impact on the garden. Once they have this tangible experience, it is much easier to teach them to care for the environment.

Gardening can lead to a longer life.

Studies show that adults who garden in their later years live longer. Instead of living a sedentary life, gardeners get off the couch and are active in nature. Teaching children good habits when they are young will make them more likely to follow them
through life.

Sow the seeds of a garden with your child today and see them reap the benefits for a lifetime.

No Yard? No Problem!

When your backyard is a concrete patio or an apartment balcony it’s hard to imagine growing a bountiful garden. But it can be done in containers. Choose some eco-friendly containers with drainage holes in the bottom, fill them with a potting mix, and then choose seeds or seedlings to plant. Another option is to grow an herb garden inside on a sunny window ledge.

A great resource for starting a container garden is “The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible: How to Grow a Bounty of Food in Pots, Tubs, and Other Containers” by Edward C. Smith.

This book teaches even beginning gardeners how to grow organic food in small spaces. The book covers container and tool selection, caring for plants and controlling pests without chemicals.

With a little research and tender care, you can grow flowers and vegetables that flourish.

Creative Theme Gardens to Grow with Kids

These interesting themes are a great way inspire children to garden.

Pizza Garden

Grow all the herbs to add to a pizza. For an extra touch, make the garden round like a pizza.

Fairy Garden

This garden includes both plants and miniature structures and is a great place for your child’s imagination to grow.

Pollinator Garden

Build a garden that attracts butterflies, bees, birds, bats and other insects and animals that will help pollinate plants. Try planting milkweed, zinnias and snapdragons.

Herb Garden

Herb gardens are a great way to foray into the world of gardening. They can be grown inside or outside and include plants such as basil, oregano, sage, thyme, parsley and many more.

Art Garden

Students can grow flowers and plants that can be used to make art, or they can grow a garden of plants for kids to sketch.

Maze Garden

Create a maze with hedges, grasses or corn. In the middle of the maze, put something interesting like a sculpture, fountain, or another special garden bed.

Peter Rabbit Garden

Grow the vegetables found in Mr. McGregor’s garden. The great thing about this garden is that you can grow some of the vegetables – carrots, lettuce, radishes and cabbage – in cool weather, so you could continue to garden into fall.

Salsa Garden

Grow tomatoes, peppers, and onions to make a delicious salsa.

Wildflower Garden

Visit a nature preserve to discover the native wildflower plants in your area. Then build a garden with those flowers.

Three Sister’s Garden

Teach children about plants that grow well together, like corn, beans, and squash by cultivating the three in one mound.

Janeen Lewis

Janeen Lewis is a freelance journalist and mother of two. She loves to teach gardening to children.

Four Gardening Mini-Projects to Do with Your Kids

As winter melts away into spring, keep your eyes open for those early spring blooms—crocus, daffodil, and hyacinth. They’ll signal that it’s time to get out and dig in the soil.

To children, gardening is a bit like magic. One simply puts seeds, those little packages of mystery, into soil and after waiting for a loooong time, as much as two weeks; little plants peek up into the world.

You can capture some of that mystery and magic with these four mini-gardening projects:

Sunflower Houses

Sunflowers are magnificent things to plant because they have a short germination time, as little as seven days, and they grow spectacularly tall. Children will love planting their sunflower home and then watching it grow inch by inch over the coming months. You could even do a little mapping and graphing as the home is planned. And then, when the magic is done, the kids can play in the house all day and sleep out in their sleeping bags at night.

www.greeneducationfoundation.org | How to Build a Sunflower House

Gourds on a Fence

Planting a row of gourds along a fenceline is a great way to enjoy the growth of these beautiful and varied plants. Kids love their beautiful colors and shapes. Gourds need to grow and mature until all the greenery has dried up. Then, when the gourds are thoroughly dry, you can use them for decoration, for rhythm instruments, or for homegrown birdhouses by hollowing them out.

www.foothillsfarm.com | Ginny’s Gourds

Pumpkins to Jack-o-Lanterns

Pumpkin seeds are easy to plant in mounds of soil with seeds spaced four to five inches apart. They’ll grow all summer long and bloom with their trademark orange blossoms. Then, in the fall, they turn from green globes to nice, fat, orange pumpkins. Use them for cooking pies and tarts, but be sure to set aside several to hollow out and carve into Halloween jack-o-lanterns.


Succulents in Clam Shells

Succulents are those interesting plants that retain water in their fat leaves and come in all shapes and sizes. They are the hens and chicks, the sedums and the sempervivums that look like green roses. These plants, especially when grouped together, make truly lovely arrangements. The fun part is they can grow in minimal soil and are perfect for a kid project. Take a large shell (or other interesting container) and drill several small holes in the bottom for drainage. Then, place a layer of wet sphagnum moss in the bottom. Top with potting soil and then add several succulent plants close together. These make nice gifts or just place them in a spot where you and your children can enjoy them throughout
the year.


You can spark your family’s interest in the great out of doors with these and similar gardening projects. For more fun projects to do together see

Great Introductory Garden Books for Kids

Garden to Table: A Kids’ Guide to Planting, Growing and Preparing Food by Katherine Hengel.

Gardening Lab for Kids: 52 Fun Experiments to Grow, Harvest and Enjoy Your Garden by Renata Fossen Brown.

Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots: Gardening Together with Kids by Sharon Lovejoy.

Square Foot Gardening with Kids by Mel Bartholomew.

Jan Pierce

Jan Pierce, M.Ed., is a retired teacher and author of Homegrown Readers and Homegrown Family Fun: Unplugged. Find Jan at www.janpierce.net.

Ready, Set Read - And Grow! Get Gardening with Your Kids

Do you have a green thumb? Even if you’ve never gardened, you may want to try it with your kids. Gardening teaches a lot about the life cycles of both plants and insects. Plants can look beautiful and smell great – and they can taste good too! And as a bonus, kids who grow veggies are often more likely to try them.

You can grow plants almost anywhere. Try a patch of your yard, a community garden plot, some planters on a patio or roof deck, or even a few pots on a windowsill.

Need a little more inspiration? Try these books about gardening to get you excited. Then go get your hands dirty!

Garden Books to Inspire

Grandpa’s Garden by Stella Fry

Billy gardens with his grandfather. He’s impatient about everything, but learns to wait for seeds to sprout, for birds to eat the insects that are eating their plants. The back of the book has suggested garden plans and activities for each season.

Growing Vegetable Soup, written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert

The characters are largely unseen in this book, but dad and kids grow vegetables and turn them into soup. Ehlert’s unique illustration style includes labels to help readers identify seeds, sprouts, and tools. The last page includes a recipe for vegetable soup. Ehlert’s Planting a Rainbow may be of interest too.

Inch by Inch: The Garden Song, by David Mallett, pictures by Ora Eitan

The book features the classic song “Inch by Inch.” The lyrics and images connect the gardener with natural chains and cycles.

Jo MacDonald Had a Garden, by Mary Quattlebaum, illustrated by Laura J. Bryant

Drawing on the tune “Old MacDonald,” Jo MacDonald Had a Garden brings readers into the garden where Jo, Old MacDonald’s granddaughter, and her cousin Mike go from planting to reaping. Kids have fun looking for the new plant or animal added to each spread. The back of the book includes information on all the plants and animals added, along with activities, tips, and resources for young gardeners.

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, by Kate Messner

This beautifully illustrated book shows what’s happening, the shoots and leaves and other plant parts kids will see, but it also shows what might be less visible, the worms and roots and bugs down in the dirt.

Gardening How To

Gardening Lab for Kids, by Renata Brown

The subtitle of this book says it all: 52 Experiments to Learn, Grow, Harvest, Make, Play and Enjoy Your Garden. If you are looking to maximize production in a garden, this isn’t the book, but if you want to maximize fun, check this one out.

Grow: A Family Guide to Growing Fruits and Vegetables Together, by Ben Raskin

This basic introduction gets you thinking about what plants need, the tools you need to get started, and some info on the top fruits and vegetables. There’s also a chapter on planning your garden.

Ready, Set, Grow!: A Kid’s Guide to Gardening, by Rebecca Spohn

Whether you want to garden inside or out, there’s something for you in this book. It also includes recipes using food you’ve grown and garden craft projects.

Roots, Shoots, Buckets, and Boots by Sharon Lovejoy

Sharon Lovejoy loves introducing children to gardens. In this and other books, she has lots of ideas for making gardening fun. Imagine a garden that tells time by when the flowers bloom or lettuce spelling out your child’s name or a cucumber inside a bottle. She’ll show you how to do that and grow a sunflower house or a bean and flower teepee and so much more.

Square Foot Gardening with Kids, by Mel Bartholomew

Square foot gardening is a specific method of compact planting in a tight space, and Bartholomew, who popularized the idea decades ago, explains how to get started and succeed. This book is designed for adults who want to garden with kids and has specific ideas on gardening with kids at different ages and stages from toddlers to teens.

What will you and your family grow together?

Sara Barry

Sara Barry is a writer who planted her first garden when she was five and hasn’t stopped. Her kids help with everything from planning and planting to picking and eating (though nobody loves weeding).

St. Johns April 2019

The Home & Garden Issue

St. Johns April 2019
The Home & Garden Issue
April 2019

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