Making A Play Garden

With Spring finally here, breathing a wonderfully sunny warmth and life into everything, we have been out in the park and the garden for longer each day. When we painted flowerpots and planted some primroses last month, I realised we were going to need a proper little patch of the garden for the girls to call their own where some playful and fun learning can take place. A play garden for children

Our fabulous Pampa came over last week and helped to turn over a little semi-circlular patch of the lawn next to (a very empty!) flower bed. We moved the bricks that had been there and used them to mark out the edges of the garden area.

Next, Cakie and I went on a big-girls-only expedition to the garden centre where we picked out some low fencing on a roll, a bag of compost, a few plants and some kiddie tools.

We put the fencing around the semi-circle and left a little gap for getting in and out. She told me “you forgot the gate Mummy.” Mud overalls on and straight into the patch to dig and make “mud castles” using the bucket and new trowel!

And some mud cup-cakes of course. We are very 2011 daaaarling.

We planted her choice of pretty pink flowers, having left behind the pretty little daisy bush we bought at the shop. So very typical of me!

We also planted some lavender and lemon thyme to add a sensory section to the garden. Later we will move some mint over from the main garden too as well as a rosemary bush to fill the air with a lovely range of fragrances.

Some mini-tools for digging in the mud and her trusty watering can.

Yes, she wore her wellies and a tutu. We just went with it :-)

We brought out a pile of the pebbles that she played with the other day and she used them to do tipping, arranging and collecting with. She used her plastic tea set to have a picnic. We added a little windmill for no other reason than it was pretty and she could watch it spin in the wind!

And she poked her finger into the soil and popped in one of the pebbles, saying “I planted a seed to grow.”

We used a turned up flower pot, half of a terracotta urn and a log to begin the makings of a mini-beast habitat. We will leave them undisturbed, face down in the soil for as long as possible to attract little creatures to come and live underneath and then we will take a look at what we can find with some magnifying glasses.

I placed some of the grass that we dug up from the lawn into one of our small world trays and put it at the back of the garden space for playing with. There are some plastic toy bugs, pebbles and a flower pot to form part of the mini-garden-within-a-garden small world scene!

Baby Pop is absolutely thrilled with the whole affair and has learnt how to wildly crawl up the steps and whisk over to the area of muddy delight in a flash! I’m growing eyes in the back of my head again :-)

This post is “Part 1” because I’m hoping to update on the progress that we make over the Spring and Summer. We shall we adding some instruments, opportunities for outdoor art, growing some vegetables and making a lovely, playful, imaginative mess together :-) This is already Cakie’s absolute favourite place to come and play and I can’t wait to see it develop into her very own, special space.A play garden for children

This activity is good for:
* Science (Knowledge & Understanding of the World): minibeast names, characterisitcs and habitiats/      naming,growing and caring for plants
* Sensory play: exploring the world using all of the senses
* Gross motor skills: digging, watering, chopping
* Creativity and story-telling: adding narrative to play
* Imaginative play: mud pies/ mud cakes/ grass soups/ small world insect play/ tea parties/ picnics etc
* Role play: gardening and cooking
* Emergent reading: looking at plant care labels and understanding their purpose


  1. Anonymous says

    We’re planning a play garden at the moment so this post is well timed. I love the welcome sign and the small world you made. We bulit a wigwam from willow branches which will hopefully grow into a den. Fingers crossed!

  2. says

    “Anonymous” that’s EXACTLY what I’ve just drawn a diagram of this weekend and was explaining how to make to my hubby! How did you find the planting? We had one in the playground at the school I taught at, and when the leaves grew it became such a magical little play house. I can’t wait to plant ours too. Any tips? Thanks!

  3. says

    Wonderful! Love this! I always let my daughter play in our garden, but I Like the idea of having a separate garden for her! She would love it and be so proud of her garden! She looks forward to all the flowers coming up —she cannot wait for our bleeding hearts bush to come up in another month or two! My fav! Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. says

    Loooove this! (Love everything you come up with, in fact!) My son would be in 7th heaven with his own garden and I can’t wait to plan it out! Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful idea.

  5. says

    I love the coziness of the garden, Anna! it’s getting warm here too, and I’ve been mulling over how we’ll transform our garden in the next few weeks. I’ve been thinking about the ENTIRE garden, but it’s nice to consider that I don’t have to start so big.

    • Anonymous says

      Why don’t you plant a garden in a tote bin, then drag it outside when you are on the concrete block? Sometimes jt a small place to get started is a you need!

  6. Kat B (aka Anonymous) says

    We used the book ‘Living Willow Sculpture’ by Jon Warnes to help us make the wigwam. We’re lucky to have a Willow tree so we used the wood from that. The planting bit was fun and if this works out ok we may make a little tunnel as well. Can’t wait to see how yours turns out!

  7. says

    Oh how perfect!!!!! We need a BIGGER garden! This is brilliant. I remember wanting my own mini garden as a child…. perfect.

    Thanks for linking!


  8. says

    I really love this idea. What a wonderful place for your girls to have ownership over. I am wondering if they have a sandpit. We have a decent sized one and I am wondering if it would be overkill to have a garden area as well? Any thoughts

  9. says

    Thanks Ronnie. They have a play table that is filled with sand but we haven’t got a big pit yet. I would love to make one, although our garden is visited by foxes and cats and I need to figure out a seal tight method of covering it first!
    I absolutely think both things can co-exist as they serve completely different purposes in terms of play experiences.

  10. says

    I LOVE this idea! A MUST for everyone! We are leaving on a 4 1/2 month trip but next spring or maybe even this fall…a fall garden, yes we could get it all prepared for next Spring…I so LOVE this idea!!!!

  11. says

    That is so wonderful! I would LOVE for you to come link this up in my new linky called Homescholing on the Cheap! It isn’t just for people who homeschool but for ideas such as this that is cheap for kids to do and something with which they can learn & grow. This is perfect for the linky.

    It is new every Thursday but the link stays up all week. Hope you stop in and share!

    THanks, Kelli

  12. says

    I really like this idea! Were we rent we have a shared garden so I put up a few bright signs (eg love, smile etc) for my son and a windmill but your idea is a few steps further and I really like it. I dont have a green thumb but for however long it last this is a cool idea. I’ll give it a go soon.

  13. Anonymous says

    Brilliant idea ! I have just copied the idea in my garden and I think Im more excited than what my children will be when they see it xx

  14. says

    I have been planning to do this exact thing for my little girl. So great to see a real version (not just in my head) and know it was a hit!

  15. Anonymous says

    great idea.. I ‘d like to do a garden for my 2 year old baby too!! she loves to play outside.

  16. Anonymous says

    I’d love to see Part 2 or some followup pics from later in the summer. Fantastic activity – you are wonderfully creative!

  17. says

    Anna, this is adorable! I am already thinking of where we could do this in our back yard. My twins will love this. So many great ideas in one post!