11 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!
We wanted to make our small garden fun for kids so that we can keep them entertained and not always have to head out for activities. There are lots of ways to make a small garden fun for kids and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. This post contains my 11 favourite ways to create fun within a small garden for kids which have been working for our family of six.
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Here are my top 11 ways to make a small garden fun for kids:
- 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
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- Use the soft play blocks and tents to make barricades; split into teams and grab the water balloons
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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- 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
- 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. We have had our one for 9 years and it is still going strong. Even our 10 year old still plays with it. I honestly can’t rave enough about these canal systems they are just amazing.
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It is perfect for imaginative play and has some elements of STEM learning when you start using the dams and the water pumps to move the water around. In a small garden they are perfect as they have ones that fold up and so they are easy to store and they make it possible to let them play with water on those days when 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.
- If you don’t have space for a sandpit a bit of kinetic sand (which you can make yourself) and a builders tray (Tuff Tray) works just as well.
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We have a sandpit, but the fact that you can actually build things with the kinetic sand means that our kids often request to use this instead.
- 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
- 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!
- 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 excellent small garden fun and a great way of tiring out energetic kids
What would I do if I had a bigger garden? If it was huge I would have a swimming pool. Dream, dream, dream, dream…. but I hope that this post will help you to see that a small garden for kids is far from a problem. It can be great fun.
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.