7 Activities for Engaging Kids with Pollinator Gardens
Kids love learning about animals—especially when they see them in real life. Creating a pollinator garden is a fantastic way to engage your kids with wildlife exploration, outdoor learning activities, and to connect with nature.
Pollinators include many butterflies, birds, beetles, bees, and so much more. Don’t worry about anybody getting stung—bees are very unlikely to sting, especially native species in California. Just remind the kids not to touch the bees and always be respectful—we want to help the wildlife get lots of food, flower nectar, and a safe place to rest and breed.
There’s So Much for Kids to Explore in a Pollinator Garden
Outdoor learning is excellent for keeping kids engaged and curious about the world around them—especially over the summer holidays when school is out of session! Your pollinator garden is an opportunity to explore zoology, botany, ecology and conservation, and even art and design! Here are some fun pollinator garden activities you can do with your kids this year.
Track Pollinators and Wildlife in a Garden Journal
Make a pollinator garden journal to keep track of all the amazing things you see in the garden. Create a checklist or “Wildlife Bingo” of all the different animals and insects you want to find or snap pictures of what you see, print them out to tape into the journal, and research some facts to write down together.
Kids have an incredible memory for animal names and facts. Pick up some native wildlife identification books to search and find information about all the pollinators and other critters you discover! That way, you don’t have to rely on your phone—you can unplug for the afternoon and experience nature. Plant and animal identification books are full of colorful pictures and facts, so your kids will get good use out of them!
Draw Plants and Pollinators in the Garden
If you’ve got a budding artist in the house, encourage them to draw pictures of the different pollinators and plants they like. Label them and create a portfolio to hold all of their masterpieces! You can also keep a list of everything you find, then search online for printable coloring pages. Hummingbirds, ladybugs, Monarch butterflies, and flowers—there’s no shortage of exciting things to draw!
For Tech-Savvy Kids, Get the SEEK App
It isn’t always easy to convince your kids to put their phones away for the day. However, that passion for technology can be a great way to expose them to interactive, engaging learning opportunities—even in nature! The SEEK app has been wildly popular among older, tech-savvy kids who get a kick out of games like Pokémon GO! But, unlike Pokémon, all the amazing things you discover with SEEK are 100% real, living creatures.
Developed by iNaturalist and available on iPhone and Android, SEEK uses photo identification technology to help kids identify and track the wildlife they see outside. It’s an incredible way to bridge the gap between nature and tech! There are options for setting goals, competing with friends and family, and mapping and cataloging all of their sightings. Plus, since it’s part of the iNaturalist network, its functionality is second-to-none, with the world’s best plant and animal identification software.
Let Them Choose A Few Plants of Their Own
Take a trip to the garden center and pick out some plants with bright colors and different shapes to attract pollinators. Try giving them a list of types of pollinator plants, and they can choose one for each category.
- One native flower of California
- One tube-shaped flower for hummingbirds
- One fragrant flower for butterflies
- One smelly herb to attract ladybugs
Plant them together in the garden bed or in some containers around the garden or patio.
Teach Them How to Water the Plants—Responsibly, of Course!
A garden hose is the closest thing to a power tool a kid can safely use on their own, so it certainly keeps them engaged and excited! With all the enthusiasm to water the plants and help them grow, this is a good opportunity to chat with your kids about water conservation and being environmentally conscious.
Kids take pride in meaningful accomplishments. Saving water and helping local wildlife can make your kid feel like a superhero! While it might seem daunting to bring up topics like climate change with the little ones, you can frame it as an opportunity to make the world a better place and inspire your kids to want to take action. Explore some of our water-wise gardening tips for ideas on how you and your kids can conserve water outdoors.
Choose a bird bath together and teach the kids to look after it. Stagnant water will get funky in a bird bath, and that’s not healthy for wildlife to drink. Encourage your kids to wash it out and refill it every few days with some fresh water. While you’re at it, hang some bird feeders to attract more birds to the area!
Decorate a Birdhouse
Purchase a wooden birdhouse—preferably with good ventilation on the sides—and set up a painting station to decorate it! Use non-toxic paints in light green, beige, and light brown colors to help the birdhouse stay camouflaged from predators. Light shades prevent it from getting too warm in the sun. Drill some ventilation holes in the sides if there aren’t any—those birds need to breathe!
For all the plants and everything else that you need to create a pollinator garden in Orange County, visit Roger’s Gardens and bring your kids for a greenhouse exploration day!