Garden Projects for Children by Caroline Tilston

By Caroline Tilston

I believe passionately that children should spend as much time outdoors as possible. There’s an alchemy about being in the open air – children who were at each other’s throats in their bedroom will play quite happily if they’re chucked outside (and I have thrown fighting children out in the rain before – they enjoyed it... in the end!).

Also I think that children should be left to their own devices outside. Left to make up their own games and enter their own worlds they will occupy themselves for hours and this undirected activity is pretty much the definition of real play.But there may be times when they need some encouragement, when they’re driving you mad and some direction is needed. So I’ve put a few suggestions for some easy to enact games. Now hopefully they won’t do these activities for very long – they’ll get distracted halfway through and go and do some real play...
Make a targetGet any bendy sticks and use string or other bendy sticks to tie them into circle shapes. Once you have three circles of different sizes hang them up in the tree and try to throw balls through them or shoot arrows through them.

Garden on a plate  This is an oldie but still wonderful in the way it brings out children’s imaginations. The idea’s easy enough – take a plate and make a tiny garden on it. Twigs for trees, moss for grass, silver paper for pond...

SeedsLook for ‘direct sow’ on the packet. These are seeds you can just scatter around and, if watered occasionally will come up where they fall. What I did last year was to make a den with cosmos flowers (tall, pink, daisy-like flowers). We sowed them in a circle with a gap for an entrance, a month or so later the kids were disappearing into their fairy den.  Butterfly feederMake a sugar solution of one teaspoon of sugar to 20 of water. Dip some brightly coloured cloth into it and hang it in a sunny place – somewhere that’s easy to watch. And wait for the butterflies to arrive.
Name in the grassCut out your name in pieces of card or quite thick paper (one A4 Sheet for each letter is about the size) and lay them on the grass. Weight them down with small stones. After a week or so the grass underneath will have turned yellow. It’s a good time of year to do this – the grass is starting to grow strongly so the effect should be marked. A wonderful way to find out about photosynthesis

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  • Royal Horticultural Society - Approved Centre 2023-2024
  • Royal Horticultural Society
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