This blog has kindly been written by Glenys Brown.
Looking for fun things to do with your grandchildren? Keep them busy in the garden with these ideas from a very active grandma blogger. Looking after your grandkids can be a precious treat but keeping the little ones occupied can be a challenge; however it can be easier than you think! Read on to find fun ideas and activities to make the most of your back garden space.
I retired early so have been fortunate enough to look after my grandson, Benjamin since he was one year old and we honestly love every minute. As a keen gardener I have been looking forward to introducing him to all the many pleasures to be found in a garden. This is what we have been doing over the past few weeks.
Activities to do with grandchildren
We cleared a raised bed of weeds and let him help to dig over the soil ready for potato planting. The weed removal was surprisingly popular, ‘I’ve got another one granny!’. Naturally there were distraction such as worms and snails to be looked at. A powerful hand lens with instructions on how to hold it up to what is being examined proved a useful learning experience, ’Look at the patterns on this one’.
Minibeast garden hunt
This led on to a minibeast hunt and I made a laminated picture sheet as a guide for Benjamin to tick off any insects he had found. The summer months are best for this as there are more creatures about. We talked about how to be careful and gentle and to put any creatures back where they were found.
Minibeasts to look out for:
(print out and draw a circle around the ones you find)
Gardening with grandkids
One day Benjamin washed out small plant pots in soapy water in the sink then rinsed them in a bucket outside using the hose. He loved doing this though his tendency to swing round without warning meant that granddad and I were sprayed a few times. We should have taught him how to keep the hose pointing downwards first. I’m sure you won’t make the same mistake! Generally watering plants is something that all children love either with a watering can or hose.
Now the pots are clean we are going to clean out the mini greenhouse then the fun of planting seeds can begin later this week. We are going to sit at a garden table with a tray of compost, the clean plant pots, seed packets , plant labels and a filled water spray bottle. I’ll demonstrate how to carefully fill up a plant pot with compost, plant the seeds, lightly cover them and mist with water.
As Benjamin is only four I will write out the plant labels and we’ll put the plant pots onto trays in the green house, checking and watering from below or misting them every so often over the next few weeks. The following seeds are easy for children to grow- Nasturtium (need poor soil to produce lots of flowers), Nigella and Marigolds. Once they are sturdy little plants they can be planted out in larger pots, big planters or baskets. (always hold seedlings by their leaves not stems}.Look out for slugs and snails eating the tender new growth.
Gardening activities to do indoors If the weather is really bad there are still some gardening activities you can do but this time
- Resources needed: safety scissors, colourful plant and flower pictures from magazines, glue sticks, A4 paper)
Activity: Cutting up flower pictures from old gardening magazines to stick on paper. The images could be arranged in bands of colours like a rainbow, done as a collage, planned to look like a garden with paths and trees. If you have no gardening magazine try using colourful pages from other magazines and let your child cut them into flower shapes or small pieces to use.
Ages: 3 upwards with adult support for younger children.
- Resources needed: old tray ( large baking tray or disinfected cat litter type tray) with raised sides, compost or sand, the heads of dried flowers, real flower heads, pine
cones, sticks, twigs, seed heads, small pebbles, gravel, pieces of bark.
Activity: Half fill the tray with compost or sand then let them design and make their
Ages: 3 upwards with adult supervision for younger children.
- Resources needed: Salt dough recipe-2 level cups of plain flour, 1 heaped cup of table salt, ¾ cup lukewarm water, 1 tablespoon of wallpaper paste, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
Activity: Make the dough then shape it into flower shapes or minibeasts. Leave to air dry 1-2 days then, paint and when dry glaze with PVA glue.
Ages: 3 upwards with younger children finding it easier to make worms and beetles.
Watch this space for more fun gardening ideas in the coming weeks. Let us know your ways of keeping your grandkids entertained in the garden!