As the days get longer and temperatures start to rise, we all want to spend more time in our outdoor spaces, whatever their size. It’s never too early to introduce your children to the miracle of growing a plant from seed or the wonder of tending an already thriving garden and spring is the perfect season for doing that. But don’t stop at digging and planting – there are so many other garden-based creative activities that will keep the whole family entertained for hours while helping to shape both healthy minds and healthy bodies. Here are some of our favourites.
A scavenger hunt
Giving children something to search for is a fun way to help them develop patience and curiosity. A scavenger hunt requires little preparation – all you have to do is make a list of things they can safely find in your garden, such as sticks, leaves, petals or things you’ve hidden for them to find. Writing a list they have to read and tick off gives the activity an educational angle and helps children learn about reaching an end goal. And all while you sit back and relax with a hot cup of tea.
Nature watching and drawing
Taking photos of the world around us is a wonderful way of teaching kids to be observant and starting conversations about what they can see. Help your child capture images of birds, flowers and insects on a phone or camera, which they can later share with family and friends. They might want use them to draw or paint their own version of their favourite ones (a great activity for a rainy day) that you could build into a gallery or collect into a journal.
Making a bird feeder
At Love Ocean, we’re always looking for clever ways to reuse and repurpose plastic products – and creating a feeder to attract garden birds from a drinks bottles or milk container is both clever and fun. All you’ll need are some seeds, scissors and string. First, help your child to cut an oval or round hole in the side large enough for birds to fit inside and a number of small holes in the bottom of the bottle to stop rain from collecting. Then simply fill the bottle with bird seed and hang the feeder in a suitable place, five or six feet off the ground, such as a tree or bird table. Easy!
Growing vegetables and flowers
Children love to nurture and care for things and spring is a fantastic time for planting. It’s the perfect time to sow seeds such as beetroot, carrots, lettuce among others. Or grow tomato plants to seedlings inside now, which can then be repotted outside as the weather warms up. Sunflowers are also great to plant at this time of year. Starting a competition to see who can grow the tallest is always a fun family activity – and encourages them to be responsible for whatever they’ve planted throughout its whole life cycle.
Making a garden for fairies, animals or dinosaurs
Cultivate your child’s imagination by helping them create their own miniature garden populated by their favourite toy figures. You’ll need a container, soil, a few plants (small ferns, succulents and herbs really suit this kind of project), some tiny furniture and other decorations, along with your chosen toys. Pebbles, glass marbles or a mirror all work well. Terracotta pots, tin buckets or wheelbarrows all make great containers for fairy or dinosaur gardens – the combination of practical and play means this is a garden project they’ll want to return to again and again.
Conjuring up magic potions or mud pies
Kids love to make a mess. Letting them loose outside with water, mud, sticks, sand to see what they can create from them is a great way to for children to begin to understand lessons about volume, gravity and quantities. They’ll get to put their fine motor skills to use to stir, scoop and pour. And, of course, learning how to clean up after themselves is always a valuable life lesson.
Enjoying a picnic
Eating al fresco is always a treat, even in your own back garden. But to make an event of it, turn it into a proper picnic, complete with blankets and ‘outdoor’ plates and utensils, if you have them. Get the children involved in preparing the food – helping to assemble the sandwiches or portioning items – and make it feel really special by adding treats which you wouldn’t usually have or by inviting some of your children’s cuddly toys or dolls to join you. They’ll never want to eat inside again.