Try Racing for the Sky
Vines like hops, morning glories, moonflowers, pole beans, or small gourds are among the quickest growers around. Just give them something to wrap themselves around—whether a teepee made from bamboo stakes, a grid of string or wire attached to a wooden fence, or a handmade trellis of twigs tied together with twine. You can screw (or even glue) a yardstick to a garden stake and use it to track a vine's progress, just like your own kid's growth chart. Make it a race, and plant several different kinds in a row, each with its own marker. School-aged kids may want to keep a garden journal to track their planting project's progress.

Embrace the Extremes
Kids like small-fry fare that fits their fingers, like red cherry tomatoes, the grape-sized green ones, and the yellow pear-shaped ones, as well as other baby vegetables. Look for small round carrots like 'Thumbelina' and baby-finger-sized 'Minicors."

Children also delight in giants; growing sunflowers and pumpkins are classic kids' projects that are sure to impress. (While full-size pumpkins need room to sprawl, minis like 'Jack Be Littles' can be grown in tubs or containers.)

Plant for All the Senses
Grow your own tasty vegetable soup in a patch with tomatoes, beans, carrots, squash—they say kids are more likely to eat what they grow and cook. It might encourage them to try new foods (it hasn't worked in my veggie-averse house, but I live in hope). For fun, mix some rocks and pebbles into a container of soil and plant some full-size carrots. When they encounter these obstacles, the carrots will branch out into crazy shapes—great fun to unearth!

Create a pizza garden, with plum tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, rosemary, oregano, basil, onions and garlic. You can even plant them in a round plot, divided into triangular "slices".

Make room for some "fairy berries." These tiny alpine strawberries do well in pots and borders. Watch for white flowers that are followed by tiny tart fruits that little hands love to gather.

Don't forget a few fragrant plants, too, such as easy-to-grow scented geraniums or honeysuckle vines that have the bonus of sweet-tasting flowers—just pluck them off and sip the nectar out the back.

Satisfy the need for touch with velvety lamb's ears, fuzzy woolly thyme, soft-bristled strawflowers, mimosa (or sensitive plant), whose leaf fronds close to the touch, and snapdragons whose flowers can be gently pinched to make them "talk."

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