As winter becomes spring and summer you’ll probably be thinking about how to amuse and entertain your children in the backyard. Sometimes just letting them get on with it with their new toys will do, but on other occasions you’ll want to take part yourself and engage them in meatier projects. Here are five ways of keeping everyone happy:
Fun and games
You will be amazed at the number of regular household items that can be turned into game or toy props. Got loads of pop bottles lying around the home? Turn them into skittles and grab a ball, or convert them into a ‘water wall’. Old sponges? Convert them into little yachts that are perfect for the pond or pool. Cans? Paint them and create wind chimes near the kitchen or shed. You can find out more about these various projects here.
Installing a giant chalkboard
A perfect gift for a youngster and one that will provide hours of fun. The actual creation of the board is probably best suited for parents, but children of a certain age can help out with the painting, or at least choose the colours. Once it’s in place you can have hours of fun with word-based games, or design your own backgrounds for some amazing Instagram pictures (draw some antlers or hats and place your kids in front of them). If installed at near-ground level you could all create a ‘background’ for a scene for your children’s toys; for example, a green vibrant jungle scene could be the perfect background for toy soldiers.
Building an outdoor mud kitchen
There will no doubt be many youngsters who gleefully unwrapped their Christmas presents to find a kid’s kitchen, complete with pots, pans and wooden ‘food’. Now imagine an outdoors version, built from bits and pieces from the kitchen and simple leftovers from factories and garden centres such as pallets and wooden boards. An old sink or hob could easily be placed inside the wooden construction, and a wooden table and chairs placed nearby. Assist your children with the design and layout, and maybe the painting – to create a barbecue/culinary entertainment area for your little ones to enjoy when the summer arrives. This Pinterest board may provide inspiration.
Creating and cultivating flowers
The joy of letting your green-fingered little ones loose with a trowel and spade is that it’s an activity that weather cannot stop, since different plants and flowers grow at varying rates throughout the year. For example, snowdrop flowers will most likely turn up in gardens in colder climates, while summer flowers may include dahlias and bougainvillia. Plan beautiful and brilliant borders early and encourage your youngsters to water, prune and feed their flowers when appropriate. Once picked, flowers can be pressed, and/or turned into various artistic creations.
There’s a huge diversity of creations that you can add to your garden to bring in more furry or flying creatures from the local environment as part of a long-term project. Insect hotels can be picked up from local garden centres or constructed yourself. Simply planting nectar and pollen-rich flowers including a selection of blooming annuals and shrubs should help attract butterflies, aided by a commitment to cut down on the pesticides. Place bird boxes and tables on several edges of the lawn or patio, but not too close to scare our feathered friends. Finally, place water and food such as mince, cooked potatoes and crushed cat biscuits on a plate to entice hedgehogs into the garden.
*This is a collaborative post*