“There is a garden in every childhood,
an enchanted place where colours are brighter,
the air softer,
and the morning more fragrant than ever again.
– Elizabeth Lawrence
Kids and gardens just go together, there is endless amount of entertainment in a garden for kids if you know how to make it available. Here are some suggestions for spending more time with your kids in your garden and utilising it as a play and learning space.
This has always been a favourite of my sons, and often turns into “experiments” whereby different leaves, soil and fruit are tested for texture, elasticity, flavour, scent …stain power! the list is endless. All you need are water, kitchen utensils, things like, hand beaters, mortar and pestle, large bowls, tea pots, graters, coffee percolators that sort of thing. These can be permanently left set up outside or “Borrowed” and returned to your kitchen. The outcomes are wonderful from different beverages to medicinal cures for wounds you didn’t know you had!
I find our bush tucker section of the garden is wonderful for this type of play, children are curious about what they can and can’t eat in the garden and Bush tucker plants are exciting as they aren’t usually grown in the veggie patch and it takes a bit of practice to remember what is good and what is not.
Children love making cubbys, inside cubbys are easy and often demountable. Garden cubbys need not be permanent structures either. They can be something built up over months and left to stand the yes of time but that is more for older kids. Younger kids enjoying building and constructing too. Often it is the making of the cubby that is the play, gardens are a fantastic source for building materials for kids. Old sacks, palm fronds, pruning offcuts, shade cloth, ladders and branches can all be used to make wonderful structures that can stay in the garden as long as they are useful. This is one of our more successful teepees made from bamboo prunings.
For me the garden is where most messy play takes place, and often what starts off as a reasonably structured craft activity turns into garden sculpture or art. Chalk is great in the garden for drawing on everything and anything, to crushing in the mortar and pestle and making your own paint. An out door space is also wonderful for bringing home “collections” like shells, seaweed, cuttlefish, seed pods and the like and just watching them change and age or putting them on display somehow, kids love creating spaces for their “treasures” to show them off, find a spot in the garden that is just theirs to do this.
Check out this link below if you want some more inspiration, the Reggio Emilia philosophy uses outdoor play environments a lot in their program.