When we’re having a day at home, it is sometimes tricky to inspire the kids. I often find that simply opening the back door and turning to the garden can be an easy way to encourage them to explore a different world within the confines of home. There are so many simple things that a small bit of outdoor space can provide children with, and you don’t have to do anything massively extravagant to capture their imaginations.
My elder son is two and a half and has become increasingly inspired by green-fingered activity. He makes requests to visit the garden centre so he can look at some ‘lovely flowers’. Could I have the next Alan Titchmarsh on my hands?
One of the very simple activities that my eldest enjoys is watering. We have a water butt, so that is almost exclusively his own personal water supply. It doesn’t make a dent in the water bills and it teaches children about resources. They soon learn that water doesn’t have an endless supply. He can entertain himself for a long time with a simple watering can and pair of wellies or clogs. I recently picked up these cracking pair of clogs from Chessington Garden Centre. Aren’t they adorable?
Another simple activity the kids enjoy is planting. Granny Chick recently planted sunflower seeds for both of them and got my eldest involved. Each sunflower plant is labelled with their name, and he keeps a close eye on it daily. We also have a variety of herbs and salad leaves that Granny Chick has planted which he has been keeping a watchful eye over.
My eldest loves food and ingredients, and is already familiar with the flavours and appearance of numerous herbs. We have fennel, thyme, rosemary, garlic chives and basil growing at the moment, and he enjoys running his hands through the leaves and smelling the herby aromas. He sometimes has a little taste! It creates a great enthusiasm for culinary activities too, knowing that he is eating some of the flavours from the garden.
We have added a few ornamental features to the garden mostly in the form of windmills, as they’re colourful and have plenty of movement without batteries. I also find them calming and joyful to watch from indoors when I’m at the kitchen sink. My mother-in-law (Granny Chick) also has some charming old (slightly rusty) wind chimes which tinkle in the breeze and adds to the chilled garden vibe.
A really easy activity that we do, which is actually reminiscent of a science lesson, is to collect one leaf from a different plant. I place the leaves on the table and show my toddler. We look at the differences between each leaf, the shapes, colours, edges, size and texture. You could also go and find the plants that each leaf came from. Simple, but very effective.
The only thing we now need to complete our garden adventures is a lovely playhouse!
What little inspirations do you find in the garden?