It’s funny how we pick up the same habits our parents had. Just like they told us to get off the couch and find something constructive to do with our time. Now that we have kids, we try to find activities that are educational, constructive and involve physical activity.

There is no shortage of options out there, and some are better than others.

One of the best activities for kids to get involved with is gardening. Just think about it: Kids get to play in the dirt, learn about the life cycle and how plants grow, and in the end, they get something to eat.

Although thousands of kids enjoy gardening, it can take some coaxing to get them hooked. To do just this, here are 6 fun tips to get your kids excited about gardening.

Let them get dirty

As you probably know, gardening with your toddler will probably not be a neat, orderly experience. Adults might have made gardening into a quiet, relaxing activity that involves little mess, but kids are a long way from that.

Instead of fighting this natural tendency, embrace it! Of course, there’s a chance your child won’t make too big of a mess, but still, be prepared. You’ll probably get a bit messy yourself, so dress accordingly.

And remember to embrace your inner child, because getting messy is fun!

Make it a kid-friendly activity

You know how daycare centers, kindergartens and amusement parks are awash with bright colors, cartoonish figures and, you know, kid stuff? Take a cue from this and invest in kid-centric gardening clothing like gloves featuring characters from their favorite shows, or a pair that have colorful designs that really pop and grab their attention.

Add some magic to your garden

In addition, think of ways to transform the garden into more than a garden. Adding fun accoutrements such as this Woodland Fairy House can create a sense of magic, as though your kids are doing more than just planting food, but working in a truly imaginative setting. And don’t forget, even though it might seem like they have unlimited energy, kids do actually get tired, so make sure they have a place to rest and sip some lemonade. There are several benches and chairs just for this and can add a splash of color to your garden!

Incorporate art projects

People garden for many different reasons. Sometimes you focus on creating neat rows of veggies that are protected from the hungry rabbits and deer, at other times you’re focusing on the right landscape and creating a beautiful backyard. With kids, it’s a wise idea to mix a little bit of art and creativity into gardening. There are countless ways to do this, but some classics (and favorites) include:

  • Painting rocks a number of different colors to create a colorful border along the edge of the garden.
  • Painting sticks to mark rows or plant types.
  • Creating stepping stones with their footprints or handprints imprinted in them. This is a surprisingly easy process that involves simply mixing concrete, pouring it into a mold and letting your little one press their hand into it. They can further decorate the stone with pebbles, tiles and more.

Let them pick out plants and veggies they want to grow

It’s a good idea to start with seeds. Most seed packets have pictures of the flower, fruit or veggie that will sprout and grow from the tiny seed inside. Watching the process unfold can be a magical experience and is also a great way for kids to be exposed firsthand to the growing process and learn where their favorite foods come from. Starter plants that you transfer into your garden can bring more immediate rewards.

Plan a dinner with what you grow

Once the first veggies have appeared in your garden, your child will be excited. After all, this is something they helped plant, nurture and watch grow. What better way to celebrate than to cook a meal together! Let them decide what to make and once you have a recipe in mind, work together to make a meal for the whole family. This will give your child pride in the work they’ve done and lead to more gardening.

Educational, physical and nutritious: There are countless reasons why gardening is such a healthy, constructive hobby. But perhaps what’s best about it is that it gives you a real chance to connect with your child.