Let’s start with bean growing. This is a great activity to do with foster kids, even ones very new to your home. Beans sprout and grow rapidly so they are as close to instant gratification as you can get with a plant.
- Put 3 dry beans (per person) in a cup. Kidney, lima, pinto and navy beans work great.
- Fill the cup with hot water and allow to soak overnight
- “Stick” the beans to the inside of a jar about halfway up.
- Pour an inch of water in the jar
- Place a damp paper towel around the inside of jar, touching the water in the bottom and holding the beans against the jar
- Leave for two days
- Remove toweling, dump the water and plant the beans in the jar in soil. Only plant them down about an inch. Use gentle hands.
- The beans will show above the soil in a few days. Keep them where they can be seen but not held without supervision
- Keep growing them, adding water when the soil looks dry.
- If you are brave enough, transplant them outdoors when they are several inches high (and season permitting, of course).
While the beans are growing, you can start other plants, like herbs or flowers. I think flowers are the most satisfying for kids but they take longer so it’s nice to be growing something else, meanwhile. If you plant outdoors, kids can learn to weed and thin out the plants. It doesn’t really matter if your garden is completely successful, it’s how you get there that matters.
My only caution in gardening is start small. Especially if you are a novice gardener, make small plans and then grow your garden a little at a time. If you’re a master gardener, start a new, small garden for the kids so they won’t get in trouble if they trample something or “thin out” the entire crop!
If you try growing things with your kids, I’d love to hear how it goes!