5 free garden play activities

Garden play ideas

We are into week 4 of the summer holidays here, and finding new and inexpensive play ideas for the whole of the summer holidays can be difficult. Here are our top 5 garden play activities that don’t cost a penny.

  1. Gardening. Any type of gardening is always a hit with all 3 of my children. Filling a watering can and giving the plants a drink, helping to plant new seeds or flowers, pulling up weeds and collecting interesting things to make a collage with.
  2. Paddling pool play. If the weather is warm, the paddling pool can entertain for hours. Paddling, putting on a snorkel and mask and looking underwater, tipping all the bath toys in, pouring, splashing. Try adding bubble bath to the pool, and giving the kids bubble wands. Make coloured water by adding Tinti products. Add ice cubes or sensory objects (seashells, loofahs, sponges) for little ones – Max really enjoys discovering how textures change in the water. Chuck in some dollies and clothes for bath and wash day fun.
  3. Make a nature trail. This can be as simple or as advanced as you like. For a quick and simple idea, send the children off with magnifying glasses and a pen and paper and get them to draw pictures of what they find. If you are feeling more adventurous you can make a trail for them to follow with clues along the way and maybe a small treat at the end.
  4. Make a fairy garden. Use an old plant pot and fill it with some compost. Lay moss over the top, create fairy paths with pebbles and stones. Create a fairy house by drawing a tiny door on an old piece of twisty wood. You can let your imagination run wild – small flowers and plants, glitter, a plasticine or tin foil pond – let the little ones take charge and see what they come up with. For more ideas, take a look on Pinterest!
  5. Make a den. We have a small tent that the children love to use as a garden camp, but you can make a den from pretty much anything. Old towels and sheets, tarpaulins, garden chairs and tables – again, let the children use their imaginations. Once a den is made, pop a picnic rug inside and you have a perfect book corner, sensory tent, play area and craft room. You can serve lunch in there, make it a real outdoor adventure. The beauty of a den is that it really can be used for almost any purpose, and change daily with very little effort.

What are your favourite garden play activities? Would love to hear any more ideas you have.



  1. August 18, 2014 / 7:53 pm

    These are really great ideas, we do some of these in my mum’s garden as she also has a mini playground! It’s much more fun there apparently. Olivia loves drawing with chalk all over our garden and playing hopscotch! She also loves doing the ‘raking’ when I am mowing the grass x

    • kate
      August 18, 2014 / 7:56 pm

      Oh yes, chalk is a great one!

  2. August 18, 2014 / 10:14 pm

    Great blog. Gardening is great fun. When my grandson was little he always wanted to be here when I planted and dug the potatoes. He thought it was magic. Actually.. gardening is magic that we can all enjoy. Thank you for the great memory while reading your blog.
    Donna DeVane recently posted…How To Shift Limiting Beliefs To Enjoy A Happy LifeMy Profile

  3. August 19, 2014 / 1:09 pm

    We made a fairy garden a few weeks ago and my little girl loves it! We used bits from the woods so it didn’t cist much either 🙂

  4. August 20, 2014 / 9:09 am

    We like to play in the sand and jump on the trampline as well as have teddy bear’s picnics on the lawn for lunch! 🙂
    Rocknrollerbaby recently posted…A Toothy Moan!My Profile

  5. August 20, 2014 / 10:32 am

    We love garden play, and have a big enough space to be able to add goals and a footie net, which is my five year olds total obsession.

    fashion-mommy recently posted…A trip to Cadbury WorldMy Profile

  6. August 20, 2014 / 3:39 pm

    We hunt for bugs, draw with chalk, water and sand play and amy kind of gardening x

  7. October 4, 2014 / 11:50 am

    Ooh lovely ideas! Makes me pine for the summer just gone as I sit here in all my layers but I suppose you just pop the kids in waterproofs and these ideas are transferable to any season! Mud kitchen is another favourite here 🙂
    Thanks for linking up Kate!

    Hxx #TheList
    Hannah Mums Days recently posted…How to get a Hair Plan – 5 steps to your dream hair!My Profile

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