May 29, 2011

The Play Garden

A play (or fairy) garden for children. #kids #activities #garden

As an early childhood educator I find some great activity ideas in a variety of places. A few days ago I discovered a fantastic blog which has served as an amazing source of inspiration! Let The Children Play had a recent posting about creating fairy gardens with children. My daughter isn't into fairies but we did our own little spin on this idea when we embarked on our afternoon of gardening yesterday! Here's how we created her Play Garden.

We first gathered our supplies. I gave my daughter a variety of choices when it came to the plants to place in her garden. All of the plants are drought tolerant (that way the garden doesn't have to always be moist). The plants she chose included; Spanish Moss, Turkish Veronica and Cordyline Australis. Some additional purchases included rocks and glass pebbles (both found at the dollar store).

Yesterday, I wanted to plant my vegetable garden and fill my planter pots with herbs and flowers. We kicked off the afternoon of gardening with my daughter's Play Garden. Here's a pictorial journal of what we did.

I gave my daughter one of our unused plant pots and let her fill it with dirt. 

Older children could spend time planning and drawing their designs but my daughter and I just went with the flow. She placed the plants in various locations of the pot. It took a bit of time but she eventually added and placed things to her liking. 

She then started the process of digging and planting her garden. She used her hands and a garden shovel to dig holes for her plants. 

After all the plants were in the pot, she placed the decorative stones. She informed me that the stones are "a road and sidewalks" and the blue glass stones are "water to swim in".

Once complete, she brought some movable characters into her garden (assorted toy lizards and Playmobile people).

The beauty of this activity is that my daughter stayed outside with me for almost four hours of gardening. She would play in her garden but then she would stop for a while to help me dig holes, pot plants, and plant seeds. As the summer progresses she could also add various elements to her Play Garden! Popsicle sticks would make for nice fences or houses, twigs could be added and assorted toy bugs and characters could visit the garden too.

I really enjoy sharing my passion for gardening with my daughter. It was a wonderful afternoon and her Play Garden will surely sustain her interest throughout the summer months.


  1. We made a fairy garden last year and it was lovely. I enjoy reading your blog :o) Here's a link to our one, and if you read it there's a link to lots of other lovely ones.

  2. What a great fun idea! I need to pass this one on to my sister who has a two year old and she loves digging in the dirt!

    I love her sun hat!


  3. This is an amazing idea! If you don't mind me asking, what plants did you have her choose from? And where did you get them? My daughter would LOVE this! Thanks, Jennifer!

  4. Hi Natalie: We went to Home Depot and I had her choose one tall plant from a variety of tall ones (I selected a few which looked hardy and were drought tolerant). I then gave her the same choice with the mosses (she chose one) and once again with the ground covering flowering plants (she chose the Turkish Veronica because the pictures on the plant card showed purple flowers).

    If you Google "fairy gardens" there are hundreds of pictures to inspire ideas. Perhaps your daughter could take part in this "research".

    Please share pictures if you do partake in this project! I would love to see what your daughter designs :)

  5. This looks great! I think I saw the same post you mentioned above about fairy gardens. My daughter had a blast playing in the potting soil when we started some seeds together, so I think she would love to have her own "garden" space. I like your idea of using drought tolerant plants.

    1. Thanks Tiffany! We really enjoyed this activity. We have repeated it every year since. It's interesting to see how the process has evolved as she grows older. I'm hoping my 2 1/2 year old will be interested in doing a play garden this year.


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