Getting kids outside and off their screens is a challenge. And living in Australia, where we have just finished our summer holidays and the kids are back at school, I know that in the northern hemisphere you will be really wanting your kids to move outside. So how to make it easier…
Yes it helps if the garden is spacious but even little spaces can be attractive to kids if thought about. The options are great.
Probably the most used ‘toy’ in my grandchildren’s lives (Max is now 14, Tully 12 and Arlia 9 – and between them, they used this for about 9 years) has been the cubby house and sand pit just outside the front door. They have grown out of it now.
Now I get this is a rural property on the central coast of Australia where it is warm enough to play outside all year round. But these kids had fun. And this cubby only cost Simon’s time. The materials came from offcuts from building the house…
So how to get this idea into something small and contemporary.
The cubby competition at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden show in 2015 has a couple of great examples.
This beautiful timber teepee is just great for all kids. And I love the little chairs and tables out the front placed so that friends can be invited for tea.
The simple timber box to the left with an internal deck to get the floor off the ground provides room for tea too. And training in retail with the opportunity for lessons in finance.
But I have to say I really do like the multi-colored structure to the right. I think this is a climbing frame as well as a cubby house or space ship or boat to Mars. Simple, attractive, colorful with room for imagination is just what’s needed to take the stories from the screen to outside.
The thing about that cubby my grandchildren loved so much is also what is around it. One of the most used. There was room to do all sorts of things around that little house.
This hide put into a garden for the Hampton Court Garden Show so the owners could watch birds in peace, would also make a delightful cubby for some lucky child.
Probably most used in conjunction with the cubby was the sand pit. Every utensil that went into the cubby ended up in the sand – cooking, sand castles and heaven knows what else fed into multi games.
Arlia’s Christmas in Australia sandy snowman is a case in point.
All the other toys ended up there too. Dolls, cars, soft toys all played their part in race tracks, horse tracks, unicorn racing tracks – the list has no boundaries.
Keeping sand clean is the issue here not to mention keeping it contained. There are ways for small gardens, usually prefabricated shallow containers play the part well and give you the opportunity to cover them when not in use to keep the neighborhood cats out.
If you can – a patch of grass really adds to the fun. Especially one which can take constrained ball games. But a patch just to roll about on or to lie on and have an outdoor book read is really enough.
A shady tree is good too.
Kids’ planting gardens
This is one way to get kids into the garden – get them involved in building it. Give them a patch to call their own and then help them make a success of it.
Veggie gardens top my list – anything to get them to want to eat the produce.
Raised gardens are great for kids or failing that big bowls full of salad and tomatoes and sugar snap peas. Mix flowers in too – provided they are edible ones like pansies and nasturtiums. The kids will love the results as well as the process of getting there.
There is nothing to stop you from putting the lettuce in amongst the other parts of the garden either. Adds texture to the planting mix.
And there is nothing to say you should not use others discarded rubbish to create a garden of your own
Kids love themed gardens too – they need not be edible although it always is a good thing not to use poisonous plants.
Obviously most little girls have a weak spot for a pretty fairy garden complete with pond and dainty flowers.
I think one of my favorites is really the Yates garden at the 2014 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. Dr Seuss was the theme and the way they managed to get that look was interesting all on its own.
Grafted floppy casuarina mop-heads and lollypop figs combined with bright lipstick dwarf dahlias are the main culprits – I absolutely love this garden and so did every kid at the show.
One of the gardens at Hampton Court also took my fancy – Winnie the Pooh featured here. Notice Pooh leaning over the bridge in the left hand corner and the delightful cubby house in the background. Room to explore in this jungle.
But you don’t need a whole garden to do this. Just a large container will do the trick – that is how the best fairy gardens or space gardens are born.