With the school summer holidays in full swing, it’s great to encourage the kids to get out and enjoy the garden in a creative and educational way - whilst having a brilliant time. Learning new skills whilst using their imagination and creativity equips children with the building blocks to go really develop. Plus, as being outdoors always helps me de-stress, with so much wildlife to see and hear, I always encourage my kids to do the same.
Build a tipi
This is great fun, which really young kids can get involved in building with too. Once it’s built, they’ll be outdoors for hours enjoying some fun imaginary play.
4 garden canes or tree stakes, 1.8m long
A big old sheet, duvet cover or tarpaulin
Some twine or big strong elastic bands
The kids can help poke the canes firmly into the ground as if they're forming the corners of a square, with the ends pointing together at the top until they cross over. Where these points meet will be tied together for strength, so wrap and knot your twine around the stakes or put several strong elastic bands around the whole bunch of stakes, to keep them together. Lightly wrap the sheet or cover around the tipi frame and tie it tightly at the top with twine or an elastic band, leaving the fabric loose over the poles so kids can get inside the tipi. They'll have hours of fun playing and you can sit back and enjoy the scene.
Clay coil pots
This one is definitely messy, but great fun and really gets kids exploring the sensations of mud and what they can make and model with clay! If your garden soil is heavy, you may well be able to dig through the topsoil in a disused area or on your vegetable plot and harvest your own clay - otherwise you can buy it ready-to-use from any craft shop.
A bowl of water handy, for smoothing and dampening the pot as you work
A washable surface to work on - a picnic tray on the patio is the ideal workspace
Cover over counter surfaces to keep them protected and then take a piece of clay as large as your hand and knead it until it’s soft and workable. If cracks appear as you’re kneading, add a little water to your hands and keep working the clay. Once it’s smooth, you can roll it between your hands into a long, wiggly worm. Put this on your work surface and take one end of the clay worm, winding it round on itself into a spiral. Once you have a circle for the base of your pot, keep coiling around the edge of this, building upwards layer by layer until the end of the worm. You can keep adding to your pot until it’s the size you want – just brush with water and squeeze the ends together to join on another piece. Either keep it looking coiled and rustic or start to smooth it over by using your hands, moulding the inside with your thumb and fingers to form the desired shape. Once it’s finished, leave the pot out on the patio table in the sunshine to dry and any mess can be easily washed away with a hosepipe.
Welly boot planters
There’s no way to avoid it, kids grow out of their wellies at an alarming rate, so why not get them involved in upcycling them as funky planters. You can display your boot planters in a pair by the kitchen door or as an arrangement of three odd wellies, planted up with herbs or brightly coloured flowers.
A pair of old wellies, with or without holes in
Large gravel or stones
Bedding plants or herbs
Get the kids to give their old wellies a scrub, to clean off any mud and grime. Pop some drainage holes through the sole and the sides of each welly and then put stones or large gravel in the bottom so that most of the foot part is full - this will help with drainage and also adds weight to keep your planters upright when it’s windy. Add multipurpose compost to halfway up the leg section, and plant up with your chosen varieties, adding compost until almost at the top. Water well and decide where to display them!
There you have it - some delightfully easy and fantastically fun DIY projects to get the kids outside and gardening during the summer holidays.