Now is a great time to start an indoor herb garden or if the weather in your area will be frost free in 8-10 weeks, then it is also a good time to start seeds indoors so they will be ready for outdoor transplanting! Here is a site for general frost free dates in the US. Basil, rosemary, parsley, and chives are some great ones for the kitchen counter. You need to make sure that the area where you plant them will get the best light possible! I would love to have them in our kitchen, but there is not enough natural light, so all of our starts end up on the bathroom counters and the kids windowsills (watch out, you do get spills if you try this!)
The expandable pellets are not the least expensive route, but OH so much fun for kids to help with. My tot just adores putting them in water and letting them expand. He says, “pand” when they get bigger! I let him put the seeds in one per container and this is great for developing one to one correspondence, an early math skill. He also looks at their progress daily and is being introduced to the word – patience! Growing a garden takes time and effort!
I tend to use recycled materials as much as possible to give them one more use before being recycled. We happened to have yummy crab cakes for our New Years feast and their containers looked like mini-green houses, so we are trying them out. They are not deep enough to fill with dirt and directly sow the seeds in, but will hold the pellets of dirt. If you buy lunch meat at Sams Club, their containers are very deep and you can poke holes in the bottom, fill them with dirt and use the lid to catch the water underneath.