Gardening with Kids: Sunflower Houses

Gardening with Kids

Gardening in your Homeschool

My family surprised me with a raised bed garden for Mother’s Day a couple of years ago. My husband and boys built it themselves, and we joined the ranks of backyard gardeners. While I have never had a green thumb, the experiences we share as family gardeners are priceless. When my boys show excitement over things like a baby tomato or a flower on a squash vine, all the hard work becomes worthwhile.

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A garden is an easy thing to incorporate into our homeschool as we study seeds, plants, and even insects. We also gain more respect for God’s creation. Sunflower Houses: Inspiration From the Garden–A Book for Children and Their Grown-Ups is a wonderful resource full of ideas to awaken children to an outdoor world of wonders. The author’s love of gardening and nature shine through in her writing.

Children fear what they do not understand. A good case in point was the unreasonable terror I felt as a child in a garden full of dragonflies! As soon as the dragonfly was explained to me, the fear disappeared.

Take the time to introduce your child (and yourself) to the lady bird beetles, praying mantises, and other interesting and beneficial bugs who feed on the larvae and adults of destructive insects. Hosting a healthy population of these friendly critters can help make your garden a thriving, pesticide-free environment. (p. 41)

Sunflower Houses, a beautifully illustrated miscellany, includes the following:

  • key to good plants for children
  • planning ideas for children’s gardens, such as ABC, barnyard, rainbow, and butterfly gardens
  • worms and insects
  • living playhouses and secret spaces
  • natural crafts like hollyhock dolls, leaf hats, and clover chains
  • toys such as screechers, whistles, and walnut boats
  • riddles and games
  • stories, poems, and quotes
  • glossary of plant names

Susan Lovejoy shares creative ideas that spark our imaginations, revealing her knowledge of gardening with children. The ideas in Sunflower Houses will keep us busy outdoors throughout the spring and summer. My boys can hardly wait to grow a zucchini “fish” inside a bottle. I especially like that Mrs. Lovejoy focuses on sharing nature’s wonders with children in a way that inspires them to become caretakers of the world around them.

Noah looked up at me, his nutmeg-brown eyes dancing, “Mom,” he said, “this is a miracle! It’s like having our very own zoo and it’s in our own front yard.”

I guess in some ways, the small miracles we can create for our children are the ones most treasured and remembered. My small miracle of a butterfly and moth garden occupied about ten square feet and cost me only time and about $25 worth of seed, plant starts, and soil amendments. (p. 57)

My favorite thing about Sunflower Houses is that the activities are virtually free, other than the cost of basic gardening necessities. Many ideas that do not even require an official garden. I wish there were more chapters for fall and winter as well.

Sunflower Houses highlights the wonderland that waits in our own backyard. It reminds me of simple summer days as a child, creating daisy chains and blowing dandelion seeds into the wind.

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Comments (4)

  1. C. Lee Reed

    I remember my Dad planting sunflowers near his fence in Delaware. Those things grew so tall, I couldn’t believe it. They are beautiful and I love the seeds. Now if only the stem wasn’t so scratchy!

  2. Scarlet

    I thinking gardening is so much fun and I love sharing that joy with my kiddos. I have to check this book out.

  3. Amy Boyington

    My daughter loves gardening with me. She gets such pride out of watching the things we plant grow. We had a sunflower 3 years ago that grew to be, literally, almost as tall as our house. It began as a seed she planted in a cup at her elementary school. After a few months, I could see it from my second-story bedroom window. She loved taking pictures of it and documenting its growth.

    1. Anne Campbell (Post author)

      How fun, Amy! My youngest son is my gardener, and he loves to check each day to see if anything has grown. We just planted our fall garden with lettuce, kale, and cabbage. We had a huge sunflower this year, but the birds ate all the seeds before we could get them!


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