7 gardening classes for young green thumbs

After a really, really, really long winter, spring has finally sprung! While your little ones will probably have lots of pent up energy to play outside, channel it by teaching them a thing or two about gardening. Here are some kid-focused gardening classes that we dig. 

Garden Explorers at Morton Arboretum

When: Thursdays, 9:30 to 11 a.m. or 1 to 2:30 p.m. (May 9-30)

Where: 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle

Cost: $83/4-class series

Kids will plant a bean seed and watch it grow throughout this 4-week course, where they’ll learn all about gardening through play, hiking and nature-related crafts. Each week, kiddos will explore plant parts and uncover what plants need to grow. Then, the fun part: they’ll get to plant a different vegetable, fruit or wild flower seed. These seeds are taken home each week so the children can care for them (using the skills they learned in class) and watch them grow at home.

Harvest Garden at Chicago Park District

When: Spring session begins May 6 

Where: Various parks; visit chicagoparkdistrict.com for more information

Cost: Free

Harvest Garden is a four-session organic gardening program that teaches kids ages 6-12 how to plant, maintain, and harvest from edible gardens in their neighborhood parks. The program covers the fundamentals of organic vegetable gardening, as well as nutrition, cooking, stewardship, and craft projects.

Little Diggers at Chicago Botanic Garden

When: Spring session begins May 18 (9:30 to 10:30 a.m. or 11 a.m. to noon)

Where: 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe

Cost: $86/4-class series 

Each week is a new theme in this four-class series that celebrates child exploration of the natural world. The program structure includes circle time, group activities, free play and a nature hike. Of course, Little Diggers would not be complete without a planting project where kids can pot their own plant by putting it in the soil, watering it and taking it home to care for.

Little Lurie Gardeners at Millennium Park

When: Mondays, May 6 to June 24 (10 to 10:45 a.m.)

Where: 201 E. Randolph St., Chicago

Cost: Free

Children ages 1-3 are invited to explore nature amidst one of the most beautiful backdrops in Chicago’s Millennium Park. This 6-week series provides a great introduction to nature through live music and movement. Little ones will sing, dance, and smell the flowers.

Morning Glories at Garfield Park Conservatory

When: Mondays (10 a.m. to noon)

Where: 300 N. Central Park Ave., Chicago

Cost: Free (Donations for materials are accepted)

In this weekly drop-in class, children rotate to different stations around the Children’s Garden, where they’ll be able to get their hands dirty with planting projects, soil digging stations and more. Children also learn about gardening through imaginative play, sensory activities and nature-inspired crafts.

Kids Garden Club at Lurvey Garden Center

When: April 14 (1 to 2 p.m.)

Where: 2550 E. Dempster St., Des Plaines

Cost: $8/drop in or reoccurring monthly fee

Lurvey Home & Garden is nurturing the next generation of gardeners through its monthly Kids Garden Club program geared for children ages 5-10. Little ones who join the club will receive a starter kit that includes a trowel and gloves. They’ll also be invited to a monthly class where they will make a nature craft and go home with a new plant to nurture. Kids will make a rainstick in this month’s class, “Rain, rain go away.” Upcoming classes include Edible Gardening (May), Flight of the Dragonfly (June) and Fun in the Sun (June).

Sprouts at Cantigny Park

When: Wednesdays, 10:45 to 11:45 a.m.

Where: 1S151 Winfield Road, Wheaton

Cost: $24/3-class series

Cantigny hopes to build on children’s sense of wonder by offering opportunities to explore nature and the world around them. In this popular class, kids can explore seasonal nature topics through stories, hands-on activities, outdoor walks and crafts.

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