Getting kids away from screens is becoming a lot harder than many of us would like to admit. In fact, children now spend only half as much time playing outside as their parents did[i], but their being outside is vital for their development. Spending time outdoors refreshes the lungs, reduces the chances of short-sightedness, increases the intake of Vitamin D, decreases hyperactivity, and gives children a greater appreciation of wildlife and nature[ii]. So it’s important!
A perfect way to encourage your children out into the garden is by getting them involved in running it. There are plenty of garden activities for kids and projects perfect for the whole family that will bring everyone together in the great outdoors. Here are some of our favourites, suitable for all ages, ideal in encouraging your children to take an interest in nature and learn about the importance of conserving our ecosystem.
Give Bees A Home
As one of the most important animals in our ecosystem, the declining bee populations are immensely worrying. We’ve lost at least a quarter of known bee species since the 1990s, and since bees are responsible for pollinating 85% of our food crops around the world, this number is a cause for alarm. However, you and your children can help fight this decline in your own garden by creating one of these lovely bee hotels.
You Will Need:
- A terracotta plant pot (about 9 – 15cm)
- Modelling clay
- Plastic straws or bamboo canes
- A piece of string
- Cut the straws or bamboo canes to the same length as the depth of your pot. Make sure that, if young children are carrying out this step, they are well supervised.
- Use the piece of string to tie the straws or canes together.
- Place the modelling clay in the bottom of the pot and stick the bundle of straws or canes into the clay.
- Put the pot horizontally in your garden in a quiet area to allow the bees easy access.
Make Your Own Bird Feeder
Garden birds need food throughout the year, but especially now that it’s starting to get colder. Although some birds migrate, quite a few don’t, and it’s much harder for them to find food during the colder months. Making a bird feeder that your kids can use all year round will bring a variety of bird species into the garden for your family to learn about and teach them the importance of caring for nature. For younger children, this activity will require adult help and supervision.
You Will Need:
- A large milk or drinks bottle, empty and cleaned out
- Strong string
- Bird food
- Use the scissors to make a circular hole in the side of the container, about 8 -9 cm in size.
- Also, make 3 – 5 holes in the bottom of the container. This is to help drainage if any rain gets inside your bird feeder.
- Fill your feeder with birdseed, then use the strong string to tie it in a place where it can easily hang and is out of reach of cats. Tree branches, wall brackets, washing lines and hanging flower baskets are all good options.
Put Together A Fairy Garden
This miniature garden filled with dinky plants and accessories is meant to lure fairies, making it the perfect activity for little kids (and big kids!) This is a trend that has taken the U.K. by storm recently because it sparks the imagination, and those tiny furniture pieces are just adorable! Transforming a corner of your garden into a dainty fairies’ paradise is based on the Celtic belief of the winged creatures bringing good luck to a person, so beckon some of that fortune your families’ way with your very own fairy garden.
You Will Need:
- Container, preferably already with drainage holes
- Potting soil
- Real or faux plants
- Small rocks or pebbles
- Fairy figurines (optional)
- Blue crushed glass chippings (optional)
- Faux moss (optional)
- Decorations of your choice
- If your container does not have drainage holes, use an awl or screwdriver to put about ten small holes in the bottom of it.
- Then add a layer of small rocks or pebbles over the holes to help drainage.
- Fill the rest of the container with potting soil.
- Add your decorations. The faux moss makes perfect pathways, and the blue crushed glass chippings can become a beautiful stream, and the figurines will be the perfect King or Queen of the container, but how you decorate your fairy garden is entirely up to you.
Make A Bug Hotel
Many insects hibernate, and finding safe places to do this gets more challenging each year. Having a bug box in the garden can give them somewhere to go through winter, plus many insects manage pests, so having them there will help keep your garden healthy. This kid-friendly bug box allows the little ones to decorate their bug home however they like and provides another learning opportunity about nature, habitats and food chains. Since this requires the use of a utility knife and hot glue gun, adult supervision is needed.
You Will Need:
- A cardboard box
- A large plastic container – a used fruit container is perfect
- Plastic mesh packaging, such as the bags that oranges come in
- A utility knife
- Acrylic paint in your choice of colour/s and brush (optional)
- A hot glue gun
- A brass fastener
- Art supplies for decoration (optional)
- Begin by cutting your cardboard box down on each side so it can lie flat, leaving the box flap on one long side.
- Next, cut out the viewing windows. Then, leaving a border of a few centimetres, cut the narrower sides of the box in a triangular shape and the longer sides into rectangles.
- Using the scrap cardboard, cut a triangular cover around 1½ bigger than one of the triangle windows. Put a hole at the top of this cover and just above one of the triangle windows on the box.
- If you’d like to paint your bug box, do so now. Paint the sides of the bughouse that will be visible with acrylic paint, and speed up the drying time with a quick blast from the hairdryer.
- Once the paint is completely dry, use the hot glue gun to attach the mesh packaging to the inside of one of your square windows. Use a cocktail stick to ensure that the mesh sticks properly.
- To the other square window, hot glue the plastic container.
- Hot glue the long side of your bug box that has the cardboard flap on to both of the triangle sides. Gently bend the flap over the other side to form a crease.
- Attach the Velcro straps to the flap and the top of the other long side. Hot glue this long side in the same way, but only halfway up. This is so you can open the top of your bug hotel and have a look at what’s inside.
- If you are decorating your bug box, go straight ahead now you’re bug box is all put together! Place some leaves, and other nature finds inside, then keep an eye on your hotel to see what guests you get checking in!
Make A Container Pond
Ponds are a perfect addition to any garden because they attract a range of wildlife and, like in this small container pond, can be a great way to grow new plants. Of course, not many of us have the means to install a full pond in our garden, but a reasonably sized container pond is perfect for any garden. And is an excellent project for you and the kids! If you’d like, you can fill only two sized planting baskets and leave a small space in your pond for any resident wildlife that finds its way there.
You Will Need:
- A tin bath, or similarly sized container, thoroughly cleaned out
- Waterproof sealant
- Six bricks
- Three medium-sized planting baskets
- 4 litres aquatic compost
- Six aquatic plants of your choice
- Two oxygenating plants
- Pea gravel
- A large feature stone
- Before starting, ensure that all drainage holes in your container have been sealed with silicone.
- Then, place the bricks around the container’s edges. These are to raise the plants to the correct levels, so the bricks may not be necessary if you’re using quite a shallow container.
- Add a layer of aquatic compost in the bottom of the planting baskets. Then, remove the aquatic plants from their pots and position them in the baskets. Ideally, each basket should hold two or three plants.
- Fill in around the roots with more compost, then water to help it settle. Finally, add a layer of pea gravel to the surface of each basket.
- Then fill your container about two-thirds of the way up with water. Lower the baskets onto the bricks in the water, and organise them to your liking.
- Once you’re satisfied with the plant arrangement, top up the water level to just below the container’s rim. That’s your pond done!
The Perfect Garden Activities For Kids!
There are many ways to keep the family entertained at home that don’t have to involve screens! So have a go at some of these garden activities for kids, encourage that creative spark, and let the green fingers flourish!
What’s your favourite family-friendly garden activity? Let us know in the comments below!
Angela Waxler is an ex florist, a professional gardener and has been working in the industry for well over 25 years. Angela has worked with brands all over the world during her career.