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Kids in the garden

School’s out for summer – but while some parents have every day meticulously planned with activities and time away, others are having ‘staycations’ and trying to find activities for their kids at home. We give you some tips to the natural playground right under our noses.

You have every intention of keeping the children happy and active during the holidays, the little monkeys seem to get through the glitter, glue, stickers and indoor activities in a flash, rather than putting on the TV why not encourage your kids into the garden. Your outside space can be a great playground where kids can be encouraged to take an interest in the natural world around them and in growing some produce of their own.

Here are some ideas from Chiltern Seeds (www.chilternseeds.co.uk) on how you might help your kids get the gardening bug this summer:

Seed collage:
Gather seeds from the garden. Find a piece of card or sturdy paper, smother it with craft glue and stick away! Your children can make creative collages using not only seeds but leaves, flowers and other garden clippings.

Create a fairytale world:
Find a seed tray, some soil, gravel, stones, pebbles or shells, twigs, small plants and perhaps a couple of fairies (or dinosaurs) and let their imagination run wild. You could use Sagina subulata (a super plant for ground cover which has dainty, fairy-like white flowers), Portulaca grandiflora and Briza maxima, along with a pretty collection of shells and pebbles.

Sow seeds:
Some seeds grow really fast, so it’s not too late to do a bit of seed sowing with the children. Try growing salad leaves such as Chard ‘Pink Flamingo’ which will be ready to eat quickly and might even encourage your children to enjoy salad. Quick-growing flowers include borage, nasturtiums (Tropaeolum) and Matthiola bicornis.

Make cress heads:
To create a good cress head/monster, choose a suitable receptacle (plastic cup, yoghurt pot, egg shell, unwanted shoe, old laddered tights), fill with moistened cotton wool, compost or kitchen roll, sprinkle the seeds on top, water and you will have cress within a matter of days.

Create vegetable animals:
If you have an abundance of fruit and veg in the allotment, get your children to create and make a vegetable animal or monster, using produce including potatoes, courgettes and carrots – the more imaginative the better!

Make a mud pie:
Give them a large pot, or a spare corner of the garden, a trowel and fork and some soil and leave them to it, although make sure you supervise close by. Add an old plastic tea set and they can create a mud afternoon tea. This may just involve a small amount of mess but children love getting dirty, so it’s good to let them every now and again.

RACE THE SNAILS!!!
Fed up with finding snails nibbling your favourite plants? Instead of throwing them over the neighbour’s fence, try picking a couple off some leaves, stick colourful stickers on their shells to identify them, create a start and finish line and race them!

Snail Crosses The Finish Line As Winner

Daisy chains
Don’t worry about weeds in the lawn. Find a patch with daisies and set the children to work in making the longest daisy chain possible.
Decorate a flower pot: Dig out some old flower pots and let the children decorate them with stickers, paints and glitter – and then grow something in them such as herbs or quick-to-mature micro-greens.

Bird spotting: Hang bird feeders in your garden. Visit your local library for a book on birds and let your children make a note of any feathery visitors that come to the garden. They could try counting them and drawing. Encourage them to notice any habits or particular times that the birds like to visit.

Local garden centres:

Ashton Hall Garden Centre

Bay View Garden Centre

Carr Bank Garden Centre

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