Children love to be in the garden with you (as long as you don’t ask them to do any real work!). Here are some fun things for your little ones to do to enjoy the backyard:
1. Play Store
Play store with leaves as money. Some of the items for sale in the shop can be things like berries (make sure they don’t eat poisonous berries!), pretty stones, pinecones, little dolls made of sticks, bouquets made from dried seed heads and cedar or pine boughs. I am sure your kids will use their imagination to think up lots of other items for sale.
2. Make a natural playhouse
Create a baby hobbit house. If you are fortunate to have enough room then planting a weeping tree will create a natural children’s playhouse. If you have a small backyard then you could find a large cardboard box (your local appliance, furniture or department store are good sources) or use a clean yard tub on its side or other safe clean box. Completely cover the box with leaves or moss or twigs and then leave just a tiny entrance for your little hobbit (or hobbits) to enter.
3. Hunt for Slugs and Snails
Have a slug and snail hunt. You can reward your little ones with whatever you see fit. I like giving a nickel for a certain number of slugs harvested. Each slug you collect will save you stepping on numerous slug offspring the following year! Trust me, this works!
4. Make gifts with leaves and flowers
Find the most beautiful and colorful leaves or flowers and press in a heavy book. Those Yellow Pages are perfect. Leave them for a few weeks and then glue on colorful paper for pictures to give away. You can also make bookmarks and cards with them. Grandmas and Grandpas LOVE these gifts for all occasions.
5. Make a compost pile
Teach your kids how to make a simple compost pile. They will enjoy adding to this all winter long. Pile the leaves with chopped up stems, cleaned up perennial trimmings, food scraps (in our area we do not put in anything that will attract rats or bears…that doesn’t leave too much), hair cuttings, grass cuttings, torn up scrap paper, and other biodegradable healthy items.
6. Play act a time in history
Make a teepee. Any pruning that results in numerous long stems can be tied into a teepee. Cover with a tarp, or on a dry day an old sheet. Make a bead headband and find a feather (kids always seem to have at least one of these saved) and let your children’s imagination take them back in time. You could also pretend there are dinosaurs about or perhaps you are pioneers and you must live off whatever you plant in the garden.
7. Make a secret garden
Let your children have an area of the yard for their own secret garden. Kids need low maintenance plants with huge impact for them to remain interested. Things like sunflowers that grow quickly will delight them. Easy plants that are edible are also good such as blueberry bushes. If you want them to enjoy perennials and shrubs, then have the plants shine with lots of color as in the nice combination below.