Girl on Swing

Take a look at your Garden

Your garden, however small, provides an important space for your children to develop and learn. There are many physical and psychological health benefits to children of playing outside and exploring a natural environment. If children are familiar with outdoor play at a young age then this trend may continue when they are older. However encouraging some children to stay and play in the garden may not always be an easy task. If this is the case for with the children you care for take a look at your garden. See if you could make your garden more child-friendly and use it in a more inspiring way.

Create a Children’s Garden

All children can benefit from a varied outdoor space that provides a range of experiences and opportunities for play. They need a space to engage in quiet play as well as active play. An environment that is a mixture of hard, soft, natural and man-made textures and surfaces will appeal to all children. Take a fresh look at your outside space and the ways in which you use it. Try viewing it from both a child’s perspective and their height. Keep the plastic garden toys you already have and add some of the following ideas. All are easy and relatively inexpensive to implement.

childs play

childs play

Water Play

There is nothing better on a hot summer’s day than some fun water play and getting slightly wet and soggy. You can kit your kids out with small buckets of water and paint brushes. Then let them paint the brickwork and fences and go wild with their water art. An indoor plant spray filled with water is great fun. Try placing an old picture frame on the ground and let the kids spray and paint their own pictures. At the end of the day don’t forget to let the kids help you water the garden. If the sun is still shining you may be able to catch a rainbow in the spray,

Get the Kids Growing

There are loads of on what to plant with your kids in July  on this site.  If it all looks a bit daunting a simple way to get started is to take your kids on a trip to your local garden centre and buy small pots of herbs such as rosemary, sage and thyme. Let them help you either plant up a pot filled with multi-purpose or plant them straight into the ground. As well as grow them they will be able to learn how to touch and smell them and then eat them.

Chill Out Time

Children love to have places to sit and also sometimes to hide so make sure you provide enough. A few sawn up tree trunks around the garden are ideal sitting places. An old car tyre works as a seat, is also great for rolling games and use as a plant container. Willow dens planted in the winter and runner bean tepees are great natural dens and provide shade on a hot day.

Natural Materials

Think about whether you have different natural materials available for play? Collections of large pebbles and shells are great for sorting, stacking, and loading into toy buckets and wheelbarrows. Have a go at painting pebbles. An ideal activity for outdoors. Grass cuttings, hedge trimmings and fir cones can be used in similar ways. Sand and soil provide endless opportunities for digging in.


Do you have structures to encourage movement around your garden? Stepping stones are always a great favourite with children. Use sawn off logs placed around the garden or paving slabs already on a lawn. A snake or train track chalked onto a pathway provides a temporary through way. Have a go at creating an obstacle course from items within the garden.

Take our Summer Challenges

Cloud Shapes

This is a lovely chill out game when you are lying lazily on your back soaking up the sun.  All sorts of animals, faces, numbers and letter can all be spotted if you look hard enough and use your imagination.

Colour Challenge

Pick up some colour charts from your local DIY store or use a set of coloured pencils.  The children then have to match the colours to things they find in the garden.  Flowers, plants, toys – whatever you choose.

 Blindfold Sensory Challenge

Find as many natural  things as you can that smell, have a great texture or taste good in the garden.  Blindfold each child and get them to guess what they are.  If this is too difficult to organise then collect all the things on a tray, cover with a tea towel, and get feeling, tasting and sniffing.

The Bean Game

Great if the weather is a bit chilly or the children need waking up!

Jelly Bean – wibbly wobble

Broad bean – arms out to the side with slow and heavy movements

French Bean – stand with hands on hips and say ‘o la la’

Jumping bean – jump up and down.

Baked beans – we stand with arms out and head back – soaking up the sun.

Bush Bean – trek wearily across the hot ground as if in the Outback

Runner bean – running on spot.

Baked bean – lying on floor flat out fanning self as if sunbathing.

Butter bean – skating and slipping about.

Bean pole – hold an invisible pole and look up .. straining to see how high it is.

Coffee bean – Stir a mug of coffee.

Chilli bean – fan an open mouth as if the bean is hot hot hot or shiver as if cold.

Bean Pod – Hold arms up and clasp hands together over head – puff cheeks out.

Mixed beans – Let the Children choose which bean & action they all want to do  – perfect to end the game.


mini garden

Make a Mini Garden

Who can resist making a mini world and you can make it from what you find in your garden.

You will need:

  • A tray, a metal tray from the kitchen is perfect, however, you could use a large plastic tray originally containing vegetables from the supermarket.
  • Some compost or soil from the garden.
  • Sand and small stones to create height and pathways.
  • Silver paper or a milk bottle top.
  • Twigs and foliage from the garden.


Your garden is a vital resource for your children. So use it and be inspired by it, but most of all have fun in it.