It’s very nearly that time of year again when the kids are home from school for the summer, and you’ll be looking for ways to keep them entertained! The best thing about the summer months is that you can get fit and active while enjoying the great outdoors, and there’s no reason to look any further than your own backyard.
HIPPO are always keen to promote the many fun activities and projects that you can do in your own garden, from making bird feeders and scavenger hunts, to gardening projects such as getting a compost heap going or growing plants and vegetables.
What better way to get the whole family out in the garden than with some fun and healthy garden-based projects? Here are just a few great ideas to help get the kids involved and active in the garden.
It’s not too late at this point of the year to plants some seeds and watch them grow. Vegetables such as lettuce grow quickly and easily (as well as watercress) and are perfect for showing little ones how it’s done.
You can also take cuttings from plants such as Fuchsia, Lavender, Hydrangea and Petunia, and can get the kids to help. Take a 10cm cutting from a fresh shoot that hasn’t yet flowered and cut just below a leaf joint. Cuttings should be left out of direct sunlight until they start to grow independently, and can then be moved into pots. Clearly label everything so that the children learn a little bit about plant types and can easily be identified.
START A COMPOST HEAP
There are many benefits to having your own compost heap in the garden. Not only does it make use of garden and kitchen waste, it also teaches the importance of recycling and reusing what we consume, as well as the good it does for growing. For every few layers of organic waste that goes in, place a couple of layers of old newspapers to help get things going, and remember to cover the heap with a piece of carpet to keep it warm and help speed it up a bit.
MAKE A WORMERY
This quick and easy project is great fun for everyone and teaches little ones about wildlife and natural processes of composting and recycling.
Take a large jar, clean it out, and then put a thin layer of sand at the bottom about 1cm deep. Next add a thick layer of soil, then another 1cm layer of sand and keep going until the jar is full, leaving a 2inch space at the top. Now it’s the fun part, as you’ll need to get the kids to head out in the garden and gather up a few worms. Once they’ve got a few, put them in the jar along with some old leaves, vegetable peelings and fruit, then place the lid on (with a few holes punched in). Finally, wrap the jar in black paper and leave it in a dark, cool cupboard. Leave it for a few weeks and have a look together at what the worms have been up to.
PLAN A PLANT SCAVENGER HUNT
Take an inventory of the plants and flowers that can easily be found in and around the garden. Take some pictures of each and get a list up together that the kids can use to hunt them out one by one. The first player to find all the plants wins! This is not only a fun activity; it also gets the children learning from a young age about plant and flower species.
Once the children know their way around the garden and can identify certain plants and flowers, a fantastic idea to help them document that knowledge is to press some flowers into a book. For best results, get the kids to collect flower heads that aren’t torn or have any spots and are also as dry as possible. Next you’ll need them to place the flowers between two sheets of parchment paper and stick that in the middle of a phonebook. Weigh the book down and wait for about a week, then you’ll have perfectly pressed flowers that can then be glued into an annual and labelled.
MAKE A FAT-BALL BIRD FEEDER
To make a quick and easy bird feeder this summer, make a hole in a ping pong ball and tie a piece of string through it. Then you need to get the kids to mix up one part lard with two parts birdseed and squash it into a ball shape around the ping pong ball, before then hanging it in the garden. Not only are they fun to make as the kids will enjoy getting their hands mucky, but it also serves as a great means to attract some wildlife into the garden.
PICNIC IN THE GARDEN
As much as it’s great to pack the car up and head out for a picnic, a quick and easy way to keep everybody happy on a hot summer’s day is to have one in your own garden. So lay out a blanket and grab the toys and games from the garage and enjoy being out in the sun. You could even get the kids helping with preparing drinks and sandwiches so that they feel like they’ve done their part.
CAMP OUT IN THE GARDEN
A great way to have fun in the garden is to host a camping sleepover for your kids and their friends. Get some tents up and have everyone bring a sleeping bag ready to sleep out under the stars. Have snacks ready and some nice lighting with tiki torches and candles to make it as cosy as possible. There are a number of helpful Apps available that are perfect for assisting with a bit of star-gazing as well, so you could ask the kids to identify a few planets and constellations.
There are endless great projects and activities to get inspiration from. The main thing is to have fun and out enjoying the outdoors. Send us a Tweet with your own great garden projects this summer.