Authors Whitney Cohen and John Fisher both work at Santa Cruz, California's Life Lab (http://www.lifelab.org/).Their new book, Gardening Projects for Kids, is a guide to their best 100 activities with children that help bring families together, teach children the wonders of being in nature, and inspire the next generation of growers.
Of course the basic point is to involve children in the entire process from planning, to making it fun, magical and safe for them. Don't think you need a place like Life Lab to do these projects: Small spaces work as well as a big yard and small projects work better than complicated ones.
Family garden features can include a fairy garden, bird baths, a flower cutting bed, swing, tables, wind sock, or easy to grow vegetables.
The book has plenty of accessible ideas such as visit an existing garden to explore possible features for yours. Or, how about making a collage and planting calendar by cutting pictures out of seed catalogs and talking about what you might grow.
Older children might enjoy doing a soil test, measuring out the beds and rows, and starting seeds.
For little ones, use large seeds to do crafts such as a mosaic and then plant a few so they see what seeds do when planted.
For the whole family, making a scarecrow or a compost bin and hand picking bugs off plants can make a nice morning outdoors.
Teaching about butterflies and moths, their lifecycle and how to help them thrive is for everyone, whether you focus on nectar plants or caterpillar food.
With 250 pages of illustrated text, Gardening Projects for Kids will provide plenty of fertilizer for the idea that your family can hang out together, away from electronic distractions, and enjoy the pleasures of nature.
Recommended - Lots of engaging ideas for all ages and skill levels. Not every project requires tools or talents that many of us do not possess.
If you'd like to see the chickens at Life Lab, check out their Garden Classroom Webcam at http://www.lifelab.org/classroom/webcam/.
Their website is also resource rich with lots of help with school gardens, K-5 curriculum, lessons, etc.
The book is available from the publisher, Timber Press (www.timberpress.com) for $20 and at online booksellers for $9.