Ways to make a small garden fun for kids

We have a typical London garden meaning that it is scarcely bigger than a postage stamp, but it is outside, it is safe and it is ours and despite living in London, just a few minutes’ walk from a tube station it is strangely quiet.  In fact, right now all I can hear are the birds singing and my children playing.  It has to be said that all most people can hear are our children playing – sorry about that!  Anyway the point is that the garden is small and we have a constant shall we move debate as a result, but we have a huge common and woodland just a couple of minutes away (again unusual when living in London).  Where we live feels like a little village a lot of the time as long as you don’t stray down to the hectic main road.  So we stay with our small garden and have had to be creative with developing ways to make a small garden fun for kids.

Here are my top 11 ways to make a small garden fun for kids:

  1. Use tunnels (play ones rather than just letting the kids loose with a shovel), tents and soft play blocks to create an obstacle course and time the kids completing the course. They can race one another or just the clock
  2. Use the soft play blocks and tents to make barricades; split into teams and grab the water balloons
  3. Maximise space by building or buying a playhouse. Ours is elevated from the ground so that we could fit in a sandpit underneath and a place to store the bikes, which over time may be converted to a reading den.  My husband designed and built this, which was a great deal cheaper than buying one, and the kids just love it.
  4. Build a den, get out some books and have a reading session. We take blankets and cushions to make our dens cosy.  The den can be simple – just chairs and sheets.  They don’t need anything complex. Our kids love it.
  5. Chalk drawing on patios. Chalk drawing is a great way to let littles get creative outside, but also to sneak in a bit of letter writing practice.  The best part of this is of course that unless you have the queen coming to visit there is no tidying up required you can just leave it until it rains
  6. Make an outdoor kitchen corner and get imaginations firing. Developing vocabulary around home items forms a part of the early year’s curriculum so this is a great way to get toddlers started with this.  Our children turn the kitchen into a restaurant or pretend to make a picnic
  7. If there were one product, I would recommend parting with cash for if you have a small garden it would be a canal system – this has been the best value toy that we have possibly ever bought. It is perfect for imaginative play and letting them play with water on those days were it is warm, but not quite warm enough for the pool.  Recently our boys have combined this with their playmobil pirates for literally hours of fun  
  8. If you don’t have space for a sandpit a bit of kinetic sand (which you can make yourself) and a builders tray works just as well. We have a sandpit, but the fact that you can build out of this sand means that our kids often request to use this
  9. Builders tray activities – there are so many, but here are a few quick ideas:

Dinosaur world – sand, rocks and foliage along with toy dinosaurs

Water play – either for splashing or for seeing what floats

Paint and Flour mixing – fun, but oh so messy

Ice cubes with toys hidden – great sensory experience

  1. Bug Spotting – we have fake grass now so this is a bit trickier, but a recent caterpillar infestation did give them a great entertainment. I was less thrilled!
  2. Wacky Races; our space is too small for running races, but throw in a space hopper, a ball to dribble around cones or an egg and spoon and you have got some small garden fun

What would I do if I had a bigger garden?  If it was huge I would have a swimming pool.  Dream, dream, dream, dream…. Mrs Mummy Harris also has a small garden and a great wish list which could be great ideas for those of you with bigger patches of lawn.

In the meantime I will look on the bright side; the great thing about a small garden is that it is easy to take care of so there is more time to be out there enjoying it and you can always see all the kids so you know what they are up too!  Oh, I do love a silver lining…. Looking at our garden, I would never have thought that four children could have been entertained in such a small space and yet in the holidays they spend hour upon hour out there.

small garden

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45 thoughts on “Ways to make a small garden fun for kids

  1. Thank you for hosting the linkup
  2. We have a really small garden too, So these ideas were fab. Thank you for sharing. Looks like your littles had a fab time playing, too. Jemma x #dreamteam
    1. Thanks Jemma. They really do love that little garden
  3. What a great list! Defin pinning so i can refer back to, i havent done chalk drawing On the pavement in ages #DreamTeam
    1. Thanks Tash. I am glad you liked it and thanks for pinning x
  4. Gardens are such wonderful places for kids to play. I love the idea of a canal system. I will have to check that out for my grandchildren! Laurie recently posted...Trusting the Plan: It’s a Matter of FaithMy Profile
    1. Yes do. I will add a link into the post shortly as I have been getting so many people asking me about the canal. They really are great
  5. we are huge fans of chalks for outside and tunnels all kids love them. We are about to plant some plants in old wellies that belonged to the kids as little planters #dreamteam
    1. Oh I love the wellies idea. Great plan that will look so cute
  6. I love the toys in trays. It works great for dogs as well. #dreamteam
    1. Yes the trays are so versatile. Thanks for joining the #DreamTeam this week
  7. These are great ideas for those who have big or small gardens! we love the water play and sandpit, it keeps the little one occupied for hours! #DreamTeam
    1. Thanks Nita. Kids and water it is like match made in soggy heaven!
  8. We also have a tiny London garden and these tips are actuall Really usefull. Thanks! #dreamteam
    1. Great news. I hope they come in handy this summer
  9. Our playhouse remains a favourite. chalk drawing is a biggy (when its not raining!!) and the sandpit is right up there. we are getting to the stage when a decent trampoline is needed! None of which I had growing up as a kid !!!! Ross - the stented papa recently posted...Surviving the weekend without the Missus?!My Profile
    1. We defo don't have room for a trampoline unless I want to stop sitting in the garden, but we are thinking of doing a climbing wall
  10. We're currently re-vamping our garden and I love these ideas - made a mud kitchen for our 'kitchen corner' out of an old pallet
    1. I only just recently heard of mud kitchens. Goodness knows how that has escaped me. We need one stat!
  11. We've got a tiny garden but have always tried to make the best of it as it's the only outside space we've got. Yours looks great :)
  12. This are great ideas! That canal system looks like fun! #dreamteam
    1. This was honestly the best money we spent on pretty much any toy for the kids. It has been going strong for like 5 years and they all play with it for hours
  13. That little canal system is brilliant! I hadn't seen one of those before! We are finally getting rid of our rock landscaping this year to get some grass outside so the kids can play! Thank you for sharing at #DreamTeam!! I have so many fun ideas for this summer and fall now! Sara @ Magical Mama Blog recently posted...How To Baby Proof the OfficeMy Profile
    1. I know they are fab. I keep meaning to go back to the post and add a link to the canal as honestly it is the best purchase we have made for the kids. Glad you enjoyed the post.
  14. I REALLY LOVED ALL OF THE IDEAS YOU HAVE SUGGESTED, I TAKE FOR GRANTED THAT DESPITE LIVING IN AN ESTATE WITH A COMMUNAL GARDEN, IT IS RATHER LARGE FOR MY GIRLS. DESPITE OUR GARDEN SIZE (WHICH IS NOT, UNFORTUNATELY, OUR OWN) I LOVE THE SUGGESTIONS YOU HAVE GIVEN. SHEVY HTTP://MOONSOMNIA.COM #DREAMTEAM
    1. Thanks. I am glad you liked the ideas
  15. So many great ideas here - thanks for sharing #dreamteam
    1. My pleasure. Thanks for linking with the #DreamTeam this week
  16. Our outdoor space is small too. Thank you for showing us ways to be small and mighty! The key is, outside is outside, and that is fun no matter. xoxo #dreamteam
    1. Very true x
  17. Oh wow! ThEse are all such great realistic ideas for maximising on space. Thanks for sharing. #dreamteam
    1. Thanks. Ours is literally tiny so I am always trying to come up with new ideas
  18. These are fantastic ideas for garden play. We've recently got a pink tunnel and the girls love it.. #DreamTeam Helena recently posted...#MySundayPhoto - Give Our Children Roots and WingsMy Profile
    1. Awh thanks. Tunnels are the best
  19. These are great ideas for a tight area! I love the tray activities. #DreamTeam
    1. Thanks lovely x
  20. I have lived in an apartment all through raising my kids but we have a big open field with trees and bushes that I could take them out in and play. We also have bike paths and several playgrounds nearby so it made getting them outside easier and me to not feel so guilty about not having a yard of their own to play in. Your tips are great. I did most of them with my boys when they were small:) #DreamTeam Michelle recently posted...The Write Stuff – How I Got Started in WritingMy Profile
    1. We often debate moving for a bigger garden but we too are very near a massive common and woods so we just go there if they need a run. Thanks for joining the #DreamTeam this week
  21. Love your ideas - we don't have a garden at all as we live in a 4th floor flat but we have an allotment which the kids love in summer - I keep a paddling pool in my she shed! #DreamTeam Crummy Mummy recently posted...10 great reasons to go campervanning with kidsMy Profile
    1. My parents have an allotment and the kids just love it. Such a great way to get them engaged with what they are eating too. My kids love it when we are at my parents house and they get to pick their own veg for dinner!
  22. Our kids love Being outdoors, it is such a rich source of inspiration. Love the sound of the canal #dreamteam
    1. Thanks for commenting. The canal truly is awesome. They have had it out everyday this week
  23. I have a small garden in front of my home. these ways are working. I have practiced most of them with my kids
    1. Hi Olivia I am glad that these are ideas were useful
  24. This is one great activity for the kids. Definitely planning for this. Thanks the tips, kirsty! love lots, xoxo

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