With our first real taste of summer this week, we have been spending a lot of time in the garden doing various crafts and activities. We’ve been checking out the wildlife in our homemade bug and ladybird hotels, making perfume with our scented leaves and flowers and I’ve been teaching them how to press them, like I used to do as a child. We’ve been painting and Aqua-Doodling on the patio, making hand and foot prints that wouldn’t be allowed in the house and generally getting good and dirty so we can wash it all off in the sprinkler!!
So here’s an account of some of those garden activities and crafts we most enjoyed and how to do them:
Our Bug and Ladybird Hotels. The kids love finding and studying bugs in the garden. I would highly recommend buying one of these bug-magnifying pots, they are cheap, portable and provide hours of fun, not to mention being educational as well- win, win! J is rather handy when it comes to wood work and knocked up this rather splendid ladybird high-rise hotel (copied from ones available on Amazon!) in a few minutes, with added ladybirds from Hobbycraft. We bought ladybird food (also from Amazon) and put it into the holes to entice the little critters. Hopefully we’ll have a happy family move in and feast on the greenfly currently attacking my roses!! Next door, the children have built a low-level youth-hostle style, living accommodation for all other insects, molluscs and arachnids that are looking to re-locate. They have attempted to gather various bugs and re-home them but I think the whole thing needs to weather-in a bit to attract them properly! Never-the-less, this activity has seen hours of time spent on it with all three of them (5,7 & 10 years old) loving bug-related activities!
Making perfume. This is so easy! All you need is a small spray bottle- we used one from the currently unloved Aquabeads set but you can buy them from Boots in the travel section. Choose some sweet smelling flowers or leaves- just make sure that you know what they are and therefore are not poisonous or likely to irritate the skin, you only need a few. Fab ones for this are lavender, rosemary, thyme, roses, jasmine and sweet-peas. Place them into the bottle and top up with lukewarm water (not too hot). Give it a shake and leave to infuse for a few minutes. You will have a light-scent, perfect for little girls! With a clear bottle, the perfume looks pretty too but be sure to warn them that it only lasts for about a week before it won’t smell so good anymore!!
Pressing flowers. Something I did all the time as a child. I had 5 or 6 telephone directories full of pressed flowers, and those books were huge back then!! Though our current mini Yellow Pages is no use for this activity now, I have finally found a use for a gardening encyclopedia and one or two other heavy books! The girls were also given a flower press form the early learning centre which is effective but limited on what you can press.
To do it yourself, without a press, you will need two pieces of card- we cut up an old cereal box. Simply place the flower or leaf that you want to press onto a piece of blotting/ parchment/ absorbent paper (even doubled up kitchen roll will do) and place that on one piece of the card! Make sure that you arrange each flower into the position that you would like it to flatten and that the flowers are not touching each other. Place another piece of absorbent paper on top of the flower and then the other piece of card on top of that. The flowers are in-between the absorbent paper and the card is on the top and bottom. Place the whole thing in a large book and top with a few other books -I found a few that I haven’t gotten around to reading properly yet ;), for extra weight. Leave for a few weeks and they will be ready to use in crafts such as decorating cards and pictures.
What have you been getting up to in the garden with the kids? Have you got any favourite crafts or activities that you plan to do with the kids this summer?