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It’s been 16 years now and I’m still waiting for her to tell me how much she loves gardening. Unfortunately “Don’t hold your breath, Mom” is what I usually hear.
Early on I realized I’d better change my tactics for getting her out in the garden, since planting her own veggie plot, or helping mommy prune with “your very own Fiskars pruners” held little interest for her.
Crafts were the game-changer for me. Anything to do with paint, glue, shells, sticks and anything shiny was a sure way to get her outside of the house and into the garden. Over the years I’ve shared these ideas with other clients and their non-gardening children and am pleased to tell you that sometimes it’s the simplest things that can do the trick!
1. Get out the Paint
One of the simplest ways to convince your budding artist to play in the garden is to find something of their very own to paint. Some of my daughter’s favorites have been smooth river rocks, terra cotta pots, and interesting shaped pieces of wood. The artwork can be ‘themed’ (such as ‘Mother’s Day’) or it can be as simple as a decorative plaque to hang on the fence. Either way, the point is to get them outside, into nature, and having fun. The type of paint I like to use is water-based acrylics since they won’t stain clothes when accidents happen (and you know they’ll happen!)
2. Decorate a flowerpot
I love terra cotta flowerpots, as they’re the perfect medium for kids’ craft projects. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, you can paint them or glue things on them and when finished you can plant them!
When it comes to glue, what kid doesn’t like working with something sticky? Take your child on a nature walk, or even a walk around the neighborhood to find simple objects to glue onto their pot. In our area, we just have to comb the forest floor to find tons of ‘glue-able’ things such as pinecones, moss from fallen tree branches, pretty bird feathers, etc. This is so much more fun than any T.V. show!
3. Make a Stepping-Stone
For years, my kids have been attending our town’s Fall Festival, where one of their favorite places to stop by is the Stepping Stone Booth. It’s a project so easy anyone could do it, and is a great idea for a birthday party craft. All you need to do is mix up a small batch of mortar (which is cement mixed with an aggregate), pour into a plastic paper plate ‘mold’ and decorate with shiny marbles, beads, shells, etc. and let dry. Kids will feel so proud to have made something so beautiful, and will have so much fun discovering just the right home for their new artwork.
4. Make a wind-chime
If your child comes home from excursions with items stuffed in their pockets, this is the project for them! Stones, shells, driftwood and feathers are perfect for a craft such as this – all that’s needed is a parent’s help to drill holes through the center of some of the objects. In addition to being fun to make, it’s a great lesson in physics since it takes some figuring out to determine which items will hang where in order to keep the whole thing from tipping sideways.
5. Using alternative containers
Anything unusual or slightly quirky is a sure way to capture a kid’s attention. Spend an afternoon rummaging around your garage for items that might make fun containers, letting your child’s imagination run wild! Most anything can be turned into a container as long as it has adequate drainage. And if it doesn’t, don’t forget that most anything can have a hole drilled into the bottom of it. Have any large shells from vacations past? They make great homes for tiny succulents. Deflated basketballs work just as well after you cut out an opening at the top. Or maybe that old cupcake tin peeking out of the donation bag?
The sky’s the limit – just let your child loose and see what they come up with!
So arm yourself with projects like these and the next time you hear the familiar “Mom….. I’m BORED!” you’ll have the answer at your fingertips!