Fun Things to Do with Kids in the Garden
Maybe you have kids and you’d like to get them interested in spending time in the garden.
Or you love to garden and take care of your grandkids and need to keep the littles busy while you work.
Well, I’ve put together a list of the best, funnest (is that a word?) ideas for kiddos in the garden and yard that you’re ever gonna see (at least I think it is!)
I’m going to walk you through a few of the craft activities in detail here, but if you’d like a long list of different types of activities, sign up at the top or the middle of this post for a FREE printable.
Scrabble Tile Garden Markers
These were really easy to make and I’m hoping they’ll be more durable in the garden than other types of markers I’ve tried. Every year, I’ll mark my crops and then by the time a few rainstorms have come and gone, the ink (even if it says it’s permanent) has washed away and I’m left with mystery varieties.
First, what do you need to make these?
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You don’t need much for this activity, just the wooden sticks and scrabble tiles, plus something to glue them together. You can find the popsicle sticks here and the Scrabble tiles here. These are both Amazon links, but I do know you can get something similar to these popsicle sticks at Home Depot near the paint aisle and, I imagine, craft stores as well. Not sure where else you would get Scrabble tiles though, maybe a craft store??
You’ll also need something to glue them together with. I think a hot glue gun will probably work, but if you’re doing this activity with kids younger than 10 or 11, I don’t recommend hot glue. Read on for why:
When my daughter was young (probably 9’ish), we were doing some type of craft (I don’t remember what) and she was using a hot glue gun. She got some glue on her finger. Out of reflex, because it burned, she rubbed her finger against an upholstered chair. The roughness of the fabric “grabbed” the hardening glue and pulled a chunk of skin off her finger. No more hot glue until she got older.
This silicone sealant is what I used to put the markers together and it worked really well. Silicone is strong and super waterproof, so it should stand up well to weather.
You can find this in any hardware or home improvement store, but if you’d rather order it from Amazon when you’re ordering the other supplies, you can find it here.
Just a note: It is a bit cheaper on Amazon than I found it in the store. Also, I used this same adhesive for all the projects in this post that required glue.
Since I wanted to be REALLY careful about what I recommended for these projects, I purposely put some of this sealant on my fingers. It doesn’t seem to cause any reaction and I tried to stick my fingers together (a la super glue).
It doesn’t adhere fast enough or strong enough for little fingers to get stuck together and it came right off my skin with soap and water. I can’t speak to what it might do to clothes, so old clothes or a smock might be a good idea for the littles.
Making the Garden Markers
Putting the markers together couldn’t be simpler. Just lay out your scrabble tiles and line them up on your sticks, placing a dab of adhesive under each tile. The tiles will move for a bit until the glue sets, so you’ll need to be as careful as possible not to jostle them. I did double my sticks and glue them together to give the markers a little bit more strength for when I push them into the soil.
This activity could even be educational (Shhhhhh! Don’t tell) If your kids are just learning to spell, encourage them to spell the words they want. If they’re even younger and just learning their letters, you can encourage them to name the letters as you pick them out.
Then I got to thinking, “These are great for shorter words, but what if you have a long word, like watermelon?”
If you want to paint your markers too, these are the paints I used. Amazon also sells them in individual bottles, if you only want to buy a couple of colors.
I’m planning to seal my garden markers with a clear coat to protect them. You can either buy a spray on or brush on type at any home improvement store, or again, Amazon sells it.
Phew! I feel like that one took a lot of explanation. If you’re still with me, let’s see if we can move a little quicker through the other ones.
DIY Bird Feeder
This one is such a cute idea and so easy for even the littlest littles.
I love this project because you most likely don’t have to buy anything for it. You just need either an empty toilet paper roll (or 1/2 of a paper towel roll should work) or a pine cone, twine or string to hang up your feeder, peanut butter, and bird seed. Any type of wild bird seed is fine, the black oil sunflower seed is what I have on hand because that’s what we feed our birds.
Putting Your Bird Feeder Together
Attach your twine or string by wrapping it around the pine cone or threading it through the toilet paper roll and knotting it. Then it’s simply a matter of spreading peanut butter on the pine cone or TP roll and either sprinkling the bird seed on or rolling it on.
Hang your new feeder somewhere the birds will find it and your kids will be able to watch it and you’re all done. You can make a bunch of them if you want, the birds won’t mind!
You’ll notice I hung mine right under my suet feeder. Birds tend to take awhile to trust new things, so I figured placing it in what they already consider a safe place would encourage them to check it out more quickly. It definitely worked. My feeder’s been hanging outside for about 7 hours as I write this and it’s already been picked over quite a bit.
This one is my favorite of the four projects I tried for this post. I absolutely love the way it came out and can’t wait to put it in my garden in the spring!
Where to Put Your Toad House
Toads love cool places to rest, so offering them a little house in your garden is a great way to attract them. Since they eats tons and tons of nasty bugs, you want toads! Plus, kids love them!
If you’re going to put a toad house in your garden, be sure to situate it somewhere shady. Don’t leave it where the sun will beat on it for hours every day. Under a bush is ideal. Along these same lines, you don’t want to paint it a really dark color. Roasted toad is not a desirable outcome to this activity!
You should also be sure there’s bare dirt under the house as toads like to burrow into the cool soil.
Some websites also suggest placing a shallow bowl of water close to your toad house to give the little guys an easy water source. It’s totally up to you whether or not you want to go the extra mile and do that. It’s probably not strictly necessary, but might attract them a bit more if you do.
Creating an Entrance for your House
If you use a clay pot like I did, your house won’t have an official “entrance”. I plan to prop it up with a rock to allow the toad to get underneath. Just be sure the rock is pretty secure so your house doesn’t get dislodged and trap your toad. I may even glue the rock to the edge of the pot.
Apparently it’s possible to break a hole in a clay pot for a door without breaking the whole pot, but I haven’t been able to do it yet and from my research online, neither have very many other people! LOL. I think I’ll just recommend tilting it, thank you very much.
Don’t use a teensy tiny pot either. Some toads are quite large, so having a decent-sized pot is a good idea. I believe mine is a 6-inch pot, but something even a bit bigger wouldn’t hurt.
How to Make your Toad House
I glued the saucer to the top of the pot to cover the hole and keep the rain out. I used the same adhesive recommended above for this, then let it dry for several hours.
I painted the saucer with the paint recommended above, but decided to try a different paint for the pot, since I wanted more color choices than I had with the other paint. I wasn’t as happy with the coverage with this paint, so decided to roll with it and go for a multi-colored mottled look.
I used foam craft brushes to apply the paint. You can find a set here or at any craft store. They are a bit easier to use than paintbrushes, I think, for little hands.
I also decided to use some of my leftover Scrabble tiles to personalize my toad house. You can do that if you’d like, or even use seashells or glass gems. The recommended adhesive worked well for this also. I will be sealing this with a clear weatherproof sealer before I put it outside.
This one was a lot of fun! I went outside and picked up a rock that I thought was a reasonably good shape to make a ladybug, then I got to work with my paint and brushes!
Let your kids pick rocks in whatever shape they want, encouraging them to decide what kind of critter they’re going to paint as they pick their rocks. Ladybugs and bumblebees are good first projects because they’re pretty simple.
This particular rock did take 3 coats of paint to cover to my satisfaction, but it was fairly dark to start with. If you can find a light-colored rock, you may be able to get away with less paint. As before, I used the paints and foam brushes recommended above.
The spots were applied with a small round foam brush that came with my set, and the eyes were done with Q-tips. I painted the lines for the wings with a very fine paintbrush.
Attaching Antennae to your Bug
Once I finished the painting, I decided he (or she!) really needed antennae. Although this step might be beyond the littles, I really liked the look of it when I was done (minus that little glob of adhesive at the base of the antenna!).
I took fine gauge floral wire and cut a length with wire cutters, then bent it by hand. I ended up using super glue to adhere the antennae. The glob of adhesive you can see is from the silicone adhesive I was using for all the other projects. It didn’t set fast enough and I didn’t want to sit there and hold the antennae until they dried, so used super glue instead.
I love the way my little critter turned out! I’ll probably paint it with a clear top coat before putting it outside to protect it from the weather.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these projects and that you try some of them with your littles this spring and summer. Don’t forget to scroll back up and grab your list of 21 other garden activities you can do with the littles. I know you’ll find a few they (and you) will totally love! There are even a few in the list (particularly the carnivorous plant garden and the wind chimes) that I’ll be making this summer myself.
**If you’d really rather have some activities to do as a couple, I’ve also got an awesome list of couples activities for the garden that email subscribers get instant access to in my Subscribers Only Resource Library. Signing up for the Kids Activities or here will get you ALL the goodies, including the Couples’ Activities.**
If you have friends with kids, I’d love it if you would send them here to my little blog to check these ideas out too, and I’d greatly appreciate shares on social media. You’ll find some pinnable images below and a pin on Pinterest would be appreciated too!
If you would like to leave a comment and let me know how you like these ideas, I’ll personally respond to each one. Questions about a project? Feel free to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime.
As always, smile and have a crazy organic day!