Kids’ Corner – Getting children involved in the garden

Are you concerned that your children have too much exposure to technology and not enough interaction with the natural environment?  Many people are, and lots of studies show that nature play has many benefits, from an increased level of physical activity and subsequent reduced levels of childhood obesity, to increased motor skills, better distance vision, improved balance and increased encounters in problem solving and creative thinking.  Simply put, not only does outdoor action improve emotional wellbeing for kids, but it also literally makes them smarter and fitter, and the opposite, known as nature deficit disorder, is a problem for our young people without access to the gardens and wild places.  Plants should be taken daily not only in the lunch box and dinner plate, but also in their environment.
At Eden Gardens we have always encouraged children to come and play in our spaces.  We have a play area in a wonderful garden that even houses a giant beehive.  We also have a great kids sculpture trail as part of Eden Unearthed: art in the gardens, with challenging questions around many works that promote thought and questioning. 
During our Sustainability Festival on April 3 you could come with the kids and stay all day!  First up, get your hands dirty and learn about worms and composting organic matter.  Come along for a coffee with the kids at 9:30am and we will show you how to transform those coffee grounds and tea leaves into compost, thanks to worms.Each child can take home a mini milk bottle worm farm to watch and continue to learn from these amazing critters at home too.  At 11am you can join our Living With Wildlife in Your Garden talk with Bev Young from Sydney Wildlife who will talk about wildlife-friendly pest control, making backyards friendly to fauna, and how to build nests of all shapes and sizes for garden critters. She will even have a pet possum with her to share for 'show and tell'.  It’s perfect for everyone from crafty kids up to elderly environmentalists.
Later in the afternoon at 2pm you and your kidscan join Laurie Green for a chat about popcorn! Often a lunchbox staple, popcorn is mostly perceived to simply come from a packet, but did you know that it is plant based and can be grown at home in your backyard? Find out about this process, experience a show and tell of interesting heirloom varieties including rainbow, blue and red popcorn, then watch it pop! Suitable for adults and children.Where does corn come from? will no longer be a mystery!  And if they are keen, they can craft their own insect hotel in the afternoon at 3pm with Shelley Meyer.  They will forage for some sticks and mud, then put them together to create some perfect habitat for native bees and other good guys in the garden.
Coming up in the school holidays are several workshops centred around this them of using the garden creatively.  They include:
*a shadow puppet workshop and stop animation workshop, which takes the sculpture by Pamela Lee Brenner and Johannes Muljana called Bayangan, unpacks it and shows children how to make their own puppets and create movies on their phones using photos of single images.  It’s a great merger of nature and tech.
* Kids collage workshop is a hands-on workshop with artist Rmsina Daniel.  Children 7 years and over can come along and get stuck in finding bits and pieces from the garden to create a sculpture inspired artwork.  They will explore not only the garden, but also texture and composition.
* Twine Time   is for kids over 7 and is all about using string to create art, reminiscent of those wonderful geometric works you might have made as a kid winding coloured cotton around nails.  It will also involve Eden Unearthed artist Danielle Minett as she unpacks her collaborative work Being Keepers, and kids will get to work their own magic in the garden threading crocheted yarn around a grove of bamboo, jumping over a water rill and winding it through the trees to add to this contemplative work.
Finally, we wrap up Eden Unearthed with a great day of adventure for the family in our Family Art Day. Join artist Christina Frank and create small clay birds in a workshop that teaches about birds and their habitat.  We also have Alison Thompson in running some wonderful great workshops, including Leaf Critters at 10am and Nature Creations for kids at noon.  There will also be a Pot and Plant workshop for kids at 10:30am.
We also have a huge range of kids gardening kits and projects to encourage them outside at your place – we want kids to have more ‘green time’ and less ‘screen time’.
Want to know more about ways to get gardening with your family?  Read Gardening – A way to connect with the family | Eden Gardens
By: Meredith Kirton