Making the most of your garden with children

I feel so so lucky to have a garden at the moment, and hope to make the very most of it! Here are some ideas on just how to do that.

Exploring Nature

It’s the perfect time to learn about the nature in your very own garden. Activities include;

  • SCAVENGER HUNT. Take a few minutes to write a list of natural things to find in the garden. For small children a quick sketch… or find numerous examples online to print off. You could also do a photo scavenger hunt- they have to take a picture of everything they find.
  • TREE APPRECIATION. It’s the perfect time to learn about the trees (or flowers, or bushes) that you have in your garden. Draw a picture. Find the seeds and learn how they spread. Do any animals, birds or mini beasts live there?
  • BIRD WATCHING. Spend ten minutes to half an hour sitting quietly, counting birds and identifying what they are.
  • FLOWER PRESS. Collect their favourite flowers and press them. If you don’t want them picking your favourites, restrict to wild flowers.
  • MINI BEAST HUNT. Go searching under stones, bricks or dig in the soil to see what you can find. Older children could make a chart; name, size, colour, no.of legs, wings, how many.
  • RUBBINGS. Try different surfaces, different leaves and bark.
  • GARDENING. Plant seeds, prune plants or even just let children dig. Try to think of some usual pots you could plant in; old wellies, egg cups, a mug. Have a competition with every member of the household to see who’s seed grows the fastest!

Eating outdoors

The possibilities are endless! We’re enjoying some fabulous weather, so have been having lunch and tea outside wherever possible… here are some other options;

  • BBQ. It genuinely is never too early for a BBQ. Enough said.
  • PIZZA! On Mother’s Day we lit our horrendously underused outdoor pizza oven… Jess absolutely loves making the pizzas. If you don’t have a pizza oven, create the pizzas, pop them in your normal oven and then eat them outside! You could even turn your garden into an Italian restaurant… spend some day colouring/ painting Italian flags for that extra touch!
  • PICNIC. Jazz up a simple lunch of sandwiches by spreading a blanket and going outside. Make it into an adventure for little ones; pack up a bag and take them on a little walk around the garden ‘Follow The Leader’ style. Can you find obstacles to walk under/ over/ around?
  • ONE POT. If you go camping with your family, you might have a camping stove or trangia that you could use to cook your tea on. Older children might be able to cook the food themselves.
  • DATE NIGHT. Three years ago my husband had the idea to build a bar in our garden. At the time I thought it was a bloody stupid way to spend money, but now I’m eating my words! We had a lovely night at the weekend wrapping up and going outside, listening to music and eating a take-away. I am well aware garden bars aren’t overly common, but definitely go for a ‘night out’!

Outdoor Art

  • NATURE ART. Make a picture with leaves, twigs and flowers that you find in the garden.
  • CHALK. Let children chalk on your driveway or patio. A great canvas, and then for the enthusiastic they can wash it off!
  • WATER PAINTING. A paintbrush and a pot of water is all you need to get some great designs on fences or patio stones. In the sunshine it will dry quickly so you can go again!
  • STONE PAINTING. If you are still going outdoors, hide them for others to find. There are lots of groups and places around that do this.

Dens and Tents

Pretend to go on a mini holiday and make the most of any tents you have, get them out a spend a day using that as your base. Or as a Wendy house. No tent? Grab a few chairs and a big sheet. Get multiple dens going, build a tent village!! Each tent/den could have a different purpose; one for reading, one for games. Or if your little ones like role play, take out your shopping toys and let every den be a different shop! Can you make shop signs?

Make use of what you have in the garden. Do you have a sandpit? Spend a day at the beach! If it’s safe to do so and your children are a little older, you could even have an overnight adventure, sleeping outdoors!

Water Play

Having recently bought a water play table for the children, who spent about 5 minutes with it before they got bored, I can honestly say filling pots and pans with water and letting small children occupy themselves is the best activity you can do.

My daughter also loves washing things, the car is her favourite, but we’ve taken out her brother’s high chair, you could do plastic toys, or outside pots. As long as she feels she’s helping, she’s happy.

If your child has lots of dolls, fill a tub with bubble bath and let them have a bath time. And of course if it’s warm get a paddling pool out!

Sport and exercise

With Joe Wicks taking over the nation, it seems we are all turning to our living rooms for our exercise space. But remember you could do these online sessions outside! Other ideas;

  • SPORTS DAY. You vs the children. Egg and spoon, slalom, rolling races, hopping races, obstacle course.
  • TAG or if your garden’s big enough, a Hide and Seek Tag.
  • DAILY WORKOUT/ CIRCUITS. You don’t need Joe Wicks! Let each corner of your garden be a station. Star jumps/ Knee ups/ Heel kicks/ Skipping. Run in between.
  • BALL SKILLS. Passing, dribbling, hockey skills, tennis skills.
  • DANGEROUS WATERS. Basically dont stand on the grass (the crocodiles might eat you). Create obstacles that children must navigate to get from one side of the garden to the other. Super easy to set up and you can keep making it harder.

Other games and activities

  • TREASURE HUNT. Hide items all over the garden for little ones to find. Older children could be given clues or even create clues themselves!
  • BUBBLES. Endless entertainment!
  • MUD PIE. Messy play for little ones… all you need is water, mud a a few pots for the perfect mud pie.
  • PUDDLE JUMPING AND RAIN DANCING. Don’t let the rain stop you getting outside. Layer up and get involved!
  • MAKING TRACKS. Have a train set or V-tech toys? Just think of the EPIC size creation that you can make!
  • PLAYING WITH TOYS OUTDOORS. Remember you don’t have to do anything particularly special, just being outdoors if something a little different. Do what you would usually do, just outside!

Are there any activities that I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments!

If you’re still heading out for walks, this post might give you some inspiration to motivate little legs!

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