Why you should pick flowers with your kids – and how to make it into a game

These 6 fun ideas will change the way you pick flowers with your kids and teach both you and them a thing or two along the way. So grab your children and go flower hunting.

I want both my kids to love being in nature. And for them to learn to love it, they need to explore it and to see us lead the way. I try to take my time to be with them outside, but with a busy everyday life it can sometimes be difficult. I’ve therefore started to enlist the time we use to transport ourselves to and from Kindergarten and flower picking has been a favourite from the start.

Usually we ride our bikes to and from Kindergarten, but on days with great weather and a bit of extra time we like to walk some of the way and very often we end up picking some of the flowers we see in abundance and admiring the others. It’s not like we live in a a rural area and our way to Kindergarten is through a residental neighbourhood, but there are small trails we can choose to walk on. And so we do.

When we are on our bikes we often overlook the flowers, but if I have thought up a game beforehand, suddenly flowers seems to be popping up everywhere. And Eva loves the time we pick flowers so much that she’ll ask for it almost every time I pick her up.

For me it’s a huge joy to to see her walk around looking for flowers, asking questions about them and sometimes she’ll even surprise me by remembering random facts about them weeks later. I truly believe that kids connect with nature by experiencing it – that means toucing, tasting, feeling and smelling. And flower picking is such a great way to do this. Sure some flowers we prefer to stay on their stems, but kids can be taught which to pick and which not to. Eva sure has gotten this down (baby Anton not so much). When an accident has occured, I’ve tried not to make her feel too bad about it and have just reminded her which flowers are for picking and which are not – and have given her a reason why.

But connecting with nature is not the only reason why I think flower picking can be such an awesome activity for little ones. Below I’ve listed my top reasons to leave the couch and head out.

Why you should be picking flowers with your kids

We as adults have a tendency to only look at the end result – and though I’m not against this line of thought, we do need to look at the process as well, especially when it comes to kids. If you think of picking flowers with your little ones as a sure way of getting a small bundle of random flowers at various size and lenght to slowly wither away on your counter top, then you’re not wrong per se. But flower picking can be so much more – and to be quite frank, you don’t have to pick the flowers if you’re not allowed to (or don’t want to) in order to have a great time going flower hunting.

These are the top reasons to go flower hunting with your kids:

  • it can easily be made into a game
  • it’s a great opportunity to spend time with your children as a family
  • it’s an excuse to get moving outdoors
  • it can have quite the educational purpose, even for the adults. Be honest, how many names of flowers do you know? And do you know which are edible and which are not?
  • it’s the perfect opportunity to connect with nature and get familiar with your local natural settings

 

6 fun ways to pick flowers with your little ones

Picking flowers is a such a simple activity, but kids love it. Though you might not have thought about it before, picking flowers doesn’t have to be done the exact same way each time – you can actually make it into a game, a gesture and even give it an educational spin or two. Below you’ll find 6 ideas to change up the whole flower picking ordeal. And keep in mind – you don’t actually have to pick the flowers to enjoy most of these ideas:

  1. Pick or identify as many different kinds of flowers as you can find. If you either can’t or decide not to pick the flowers you find, you could instead take photos of the flowers to count afterwards or simply just take note of every flower you find. You could also make this activity into a competition for older kids to see who can find the most – or even make it into a family challenge to see how many different kinds of flowers you can find everytime you go out to pick or every time you go to a new place. Does the trail to the forest have more different types of flowers than the road to grandma?
  2. Use your smartphone and an app to identity the flowers you find on your way. Either on the go or when you get home. This is not only a good way to learn the names of the flowers, but also quite handy to figure out in a jiffy if a flower is poisonous, endangered or maybe the opposite. There are many different apps out there, so just go to your playstore or appstore and find the one you like.
  3. Find or pick flowers of different colours, sizes and maybe even looks. Maybe make a few small bouquets or simply choose a colour for the day. Saying “Today we only pick the yellow flowers” can also be an easy way to limit the amount of flowers you bring home or the time spend picking, which can sometimes be necessary. For younger kids this is also a great way to learn about sizes and colour shades. When is a flower yellow and when is it orange? Which is biggest? Which look like trumpets or a sun?
  4. Make picking flowers into a nice gesture. Instead of just picking flowers for the tabletop yet again, decide to pick a bouquet for someone. Maybe as a way of saying thanks or simply to surprise them. I’m sure they’ll appriciate the gesture and sometimes it can be nice for us adults to have a purpose with the flower picking. Just make sure that the flowers you pick are some of the more common kinds, so you’re not messing with the cosystems for bees, butterflies and so forth. Making a daisy chain for a friend or a bookmark for a grandma is also variations of this idea.
  5. Use flower picking as an opportunity to practice counting and doing simple math. I like to tell  my kindergartner Eva to pick 3 of one sort of flower and maybe 5 of another. When she gets older I’ll make it into math problems like “pick 1 +2 of these dandelions” and asking her how many we have picked so far and so forth.
  6. Pick flowers that you can eat and use them in a meal. When I was a kid my parents would sometimes make schnapps for Easter, so we would head out to collect yarrow flower. I absolutely loved it (picking the flowers – not drinking the schnapps). There’s something so satisfying about foraging that every child should experience. While we don’t make schnapps, we have collected both elderflower for lemonade and dandelions and daisies as salat toppings. Here’s a great list of edible flowers and how and when to pick them.


A few guidelines to picking (wild) flowers

Disclaimer: I like to point out that I live in Denmark and spend a fair amount of time in out neighbouring country: Sweden. I like to mention this as there are different laws to picking wild flowers depending on which country you reside in. In Denmark I’ve never encountered a problem, but I’ve heard that there might be in the US. Therefore take your time to get to know the laws that apply to your area before heading out to pick bucket loads of flowers.

  • Don’t drag up the whole plant by it’s root. How to pick flowers is not a given – especially for toddlers, so remember to show and guide them. It can actually be quite tricky to figure out for little hands.
  • Don’t pick every flower – and sometimes don’t pick any at all. You don’t actually have to pick all the flowers you find – sometimes looking can be just as fun. Especially if challenge your kids to see what the plant look like from the other side without touching it. Leaving flowers on their stems make it possible for others to enjoy and might help preserving the ecosystem. This might not apply to a huge meadow filled with daisies, but if you only see a small gathering of a specific flower, look it up or simply leave them.
  • Don’t pick flowers from people’s gardens without asking or if there’s a sign asking not to. You might think this is common sense, but it might not be for a toddler. Also try to teach your children the difference between flowers that have been planted and wild flowers. Usually this means avoiding picking flowers in most parks and recreational areas, national parks and of course in botanical gardens.
  • Avoid picking endangered, rare or posinious flowers. Instead of steering away from them completely talk about why you should not pick these flowers, teach your children how to recognize them and simply take your time to admire their beauty on their stems.
  • Bring a container for the flowers you pick. We have often just used a paper bag, but a bucket or similar would work as well. Avoid plastic bags. You could of course also hold them in your hand, but my experience tells me everyone quickly gets tired of holding them.

If you can’t remember the last time you went flower picking with your kids, then this might be the reminder that you needed. Even though looking for flowers – and even picking them – can seem overwhelming (what do I know about flowers?), changing it up, giving it a purpose and making it into a game can make it a awesome experience for eveyone. Installing a flower identification app is something that changed the way I pick flowers with my kindergartner and have definitely taught me more about flowers than I knew before.

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