Since most of us are having to stay at home this spring, the garden has never been more appreciated. If you are at home with kids, this is an opportunity for getting the children interested in gardening and the garden.
For those of us lucky enough to have a garden, what better place to spend your time? Enjoying the garden is a great way for children to get fresh air and learn about the natural world.
There are plenty of activities to keep your little ones entertained for hours outside, just dress them in old clothes and let them get grubby – it’s all part of the fun.
To help you out, we’ve put our thinking caps here at Paramount Plants and have come up with 11 ideas to inspire parents to do more gardening with children.
Grow Their Own
Growing plants is not only fun it teaches children basic biology.
Dig up a square of lawn or build a raised bed (four posts and four planks of wood is all it takes) and choose fast germinating seeds such as marrows and runner beans, or interesting plants like willowy sunflowers and tall, tasty sweetcorn.
Cherry tomatoes always go down well but it’s better to buy small plants rather than seeds as tomatoes germinate early in the year.
Herbs are a good idea too because they add a sensory element. Kids love the scent of rosemary, basil, thyme, mint, and sage and these can be used in the kitchen too. Let them top a pizza with their freshly grown basil and make a refreshing minty drink for the family.
Look around your garden for good-sized smooth stones to paint.
Paint the stones red and mark out a ladybird’s face and wings in black paint. Add two white dots or sticky googly eyes and you have a work of garden art.
Or you could paint alternating black and yellow stripes and then stick on paper wings for a bee.
Varnish the painted stones if you plan to leave them outside because rain will wash away all your hard work.
Encourage children to help our threatened bees and butterflies by making a simple bughouse.
Cut the end from a plastic drinks bottle and fill it with leaves and straw, then pop it in the hedge ready for bugs to move in. Bamboo canes tied in a bunch are great too.
Budding vets could place a saucer of pebbles and water in the flower border so butterflies and bees can alight for a drink without slipping in.
What can they spot in the garden over an hour? Ideas include a blackbird, a snail, a brown leaf, a woodlouse, a daisy. Create a list and tick box chart to keep them entertained for hours.
Art never goes out of favour. The patio, decking, fence, and house bricks are fair game for multi-coloured chalks that easily wash off at the end of the day.
You could set a drawing challenge such as chalking out their times tables or sketch out a hopscotch grid for healthy exercise.
Make a Racetrack
A swimming noodle or drainpipe cut in half makes a competitive dual racetrack for small cars.
You could also paint white lines on a row of bricks or spare wood to create a mini Thruxton in the garden. Add a ramp or a few obstacles and car-obsessed kids are settled in for the day.
Mud Pie Kitchen
Good old-fashioned mud pies are not for faint-hearted as it gets very messy, but kids love it and soil boosts their immune systems.
Let your kids have old saucepans, cake tins, a watering can, and garden soil or a bag of compost to enjoy some muddy fun.
A Mini Pond
Find an old washing up bowl and dig a hole until the bowl fits flush with the lawn. Fill with water and you have a mini pond that will attract wildlife.
Add a large stone in the centre so insects can safely drink and order up a lily pad. Who knows, a frog might decide to visit.
Flower Or Leaf Pressing
Pick leaves and petals from around the garden to press and turn into art.
Open an old book and pop a sheet of kitchen roll down. Add petal and leaves before placing another sheet of kitchen roll on top to make a sandwich.
Put the book beneath something heavy to press the greenery flat and in a few days time you’ll have thin, dry petals you can make into pictures.
A Fairy Or Superhero House
Kids love making secret dens for their favourite toy.
Tell them that a fairy or superhero house can only be made from materials found in the garden and let them choose a secret location for the project. Hours can be spent looking for leaves, stones, mud, pieces of bark, and long grasses.
Let their imaginations run wild thinking about how they can make a bed for Spiderman using only leaves and stones. When it’s complete, ask them to draw a picture to capture the memory.
Even the most mundane of tasks such as practising spellings or reading is much more fun in a tent.
If the lawn is hard on their knees place foam tiles down first. Pop up tents are inexpensive and there are no tent poles and pegs to struggle with.
Spending time in the garden connects children to their environment and inspires the imagination. These exciting garden activities are sure to foster a love of the great outdoors during this otherwise difficult spring and summer.