Fun and creative garden activities for kids

kids gardening

by Zara Mohammed |
Updated on

Garden activities for kids are a creative way to get them active and help burn off excess energy while getting some much-needed fresh air. The NHS says it's important for children under 5 years to be physically active every day, and that any intensity of activity should be encouraged! This means that playing in the garden when the weather is bright is a no-brainer.

We're not just talking about having a kickabout on the grass though – gardening activities for kids can also provide a fun educational opportunity to help inspire young minds. For example, they can learn to grow herbs and make a fairy garden, or even a dinosaur garden. There are so many ways that young children can be productive and keep active outdoors.

If you're stuck for children's garden ideas, we've come up with some we think your kids will love, including some garden activities for toddlers and kids with special needs, like creating a sensory garden. A sensory garden is an outdoor space where your child can enjoy interacting with a variety of objects to stimulate all five of their senses. Want to know more about what a sensory garden is and how to create one for your kids? Keep reading to find out.

Creative garden activities for kids

Your garden is the perfect canvas for arty tots to express themselves. They might just need a little guidance to avoid your flower beds being dug up! Here are some arty ideas:

Pot painting - Painting pots in the garden is messy, but also one of many easy crafts for toddlers. Terracotta pots are cheap and easy to find online or in your local garden centre. Plus, all of the mess is kept outdoors where it's easy to hose down. Make cut-out stencils from paper, and let the kids dip small pieces of sponge in child-friendly paint, and dab them on the pots to make simple shapes.

Cloud-watching - This is a dreamy idea for imaginative kids if the ground is nice and dry. Just get them to lie on their backs and stare up at the sky. They'll easily spot familiar shapes in the clouds like animals. You can help them to come up with stories about what they can see to make it even more engaging, or play "I spy".

Painting stones - Many kids have a fascination for collecting stones in their pockets. Painting stones is an effective way to keep the kids busy and then get them to help decorate the garden. They can place their decorated stones around your flower beds to create a colourful border to be proud of!

Child's hand painting patterns on a terracotta plant pot
©Getty/Elva Etienne

More fun activities to do in the garden

For kids with big imaginations, we have even more fun activities to do in the garden that don't involve paint, but can still be messy and tactile. The following activities can be enjoyed by kids of different ages, including toddlers.

Make mud pies – You may hate getting dirt under your fingernails but we bet your kids won't mind! Making mud pies with kids is easy as pie, and they don't have to go anywhere near your oven. Just add small amounts of water to non-gritty soil until you get a doughy consistency. The kids can do the dirty work, shaping their pies. Then comes the creative bit – decorate with pebbles, twigs, and leaves. Or check out these 10 best mud kitchens for kids.

Have a teddy bear's picnic – If your kids love making mud pies, they'll adore playing at tea parties and serving them up! Get them to bring out their favourite soft toys and tea sets to have a teddy bear picnic. But make sure they only invite washable soft toys!

Make a time capsule – Your child will enjoy making and burying their time capsule, and then digging it up when they are a bit older to rediscover old memories. Not sure what to put in a time capsule? Use a small tin and fold up pieces of paper with messages, poems, or pictures. They can draw a self-portrait, or even pop in a small toy, like the kind you find in cereal boxes.

Child playing in the garden with her outdoor mud kitchen
©Getty/Guido Mieth

Gardening activities for kids

Start developing their gardening skills early with these gardening activities for kids. It's the perfect opportunity to dig out kids gardening sets.

Make a fairy garden – Fill a shallow tray with soil from the garden and scatter cat grass seeds, pressing them into the soil and adding a good sprinkle of water. Cat grass grows quickly, so it's perfect for a kid's fairy garden. Then use popsicle sticks to make a fence that goes all the way around. Your child can add their favourite fairy toys or small dolls to play in the garden when the cat grass grows, and when it gets too tall they can do some gardening and 'trim the lawn' with some child-safe scissors. We have loads more magical DIY fairy garden ideas for kids to inspire you.

Make a dinosaur herb garden – If your child doesn't like fairies or dolls, they'll probably be into dinosaurs! Instead of cat grass, try growing a herb garden for a variety of different foliages for the kids to hide their dino toys or farm animals in. You don't even need a tray or pot, just give them a small corner of soil in the garden to plant herbs. Basil is a good choice as they can help harvest it to put in salads or make a yummy pesto. Alternatively you could get a child's vegetable patch kit.

Create a bird feeder – Bird-watching is a fun gardening activity for kids, especially if you have a bird feeder in your garden. You can buy one or make a DIY bird feeder. Just coat a pine cone with a mixture of melted butter and peanut butter, then roll it in birdseed and let it dry. Finally, fasten it tightly to a branch with string. Find out everything you need to get started with birdwatching for toddlers.

Smiling child checking a bird feeder hanging from a tree branch in the garden

What can I do with my toddler in the garden?

There are plenty of entertaining garden activities for toddlers, even if your little peach is still crawling around on all fours.

Chalk drawings – Little ones can have plenty of harmless fun scribbling their masterpieces all over your patio with coloured chalk. It's also fine to supervise your kids on the street outside your house. The chalk will wash away easily in the rain, so there are no worries about clean-up or complaints from neighbours.

Create space for them to play – Throw a blanket over the garden table for a cosy garden den. Or if you want to splash out, take a look at some fun child-sized garden furniture like wendy houses, picnic tables, and outdoor bean bags.

Make a bug box – Toddlers can be surprisingly fearless when it comes to creepy crawlies. Snails are easy to catch and pop into a box with some leaves so that your toddler can watch them move about.

Toddler kneeling and chalk drawing on the flagstones with giant chalk pieces
©Getty/Slobodan Vasic

What is a sensory garden for special needs?

Toddlers in the weaning stage are still learning hand-to-eye coordination and love to touch and pick things up between their little fingers – which is why a sensory garden for special needs kids also works well to entertain toddlers in the garden. A sensory garden for special needs is just an outdoor space containing plenty of tactile objects, like garden and outdoor toys for babies and toddlers that stimulate the senses.

Here are some ideas:

• Use a large plastic container and fill it with sand or soil, and then place the objects inside that children can use to interact with the substrate – like wooden spoons, plastic cups, and paper plates.
• Provide natural objects from the garden that have interesting textures like crunchy leaves to crush or herbs to smell.
• Don't forget sound – you could make a natural drum kit using sticks and stones.

Supervision will be important to ensure that young ones don't put anything dangerous in their mouths or poke their eyes. Discover more nature sensory activities for kids.

Your garden offers young ones a fun educational playground where they can be inspired to learn about nature, get creative and messy, and stay active. We hope to have given you plenty of ideas for garden activities for kids and toddlers. Now they have no excuse to moan about having nothing to do indoors or outdoors.

Proud aunt to her teen niece, Zara Mohammed is a Digital Writer for Mother&Baby. She has 10 years freelance writing experience creating lifestyle content for various platforms, including pregnancy, women’s health, parenting, child development and child mental health, plus lots of fun seasonal family articles and celebrity news.

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