Did you know that your child learns lots of brilliant new skills when you give them the freedom to try new activities, like making a fairy garden, and get messy in the process? The Dirt Required series of blog posts share fun activities from around the world that will help your child express themselves and develop self-confidence.
Experiencing messy play activities from different countries is not only beneficial for child development but also enriches their understanding of other cultures. There are more blogs in the series that tell the story of messy play activities - find them on our Kids' Activities page! Our recipe for making a mini fairy garden has all the ingredients you need for teaching kids something new. It’s a great activity for 3 to 11 year olds as they are able to plan, execute and evaluate whilst having fun and it includes a bit of good, old fashioned dirt!
What is a fairy garden?
Making your own fairy garden is a fantastic kid’s craft. Doing this with your child will teach them how to turn the simplest of things, like an old tray and a bit of mud, into a magical garden straight from their imagination. All your child needs is a bit of mud and the encouragement to think creatively.
There’s lots to learn through making a fairy garden for kids
Planning a fairy garden gives children the chance to talk through their ideas for their garden creation. It may be that you don’t have a garden of your own or aren’t keen to let them loose in your flower beds just yet. Giving them their own mini fairy garden means they can be in charge of their own tiny space which will build their confidence and teach them the basics of plant care. And when they get their hands in the dirt and actually make the garden they’ll be developing their manual dexterity too.
Ingredients and fairy garden ideas
The most important ingredient here is you. Give your child confidence by letting them know that it’s absolutely fine to get messy while they’re planning and making their fairy garden. (And if you’re worried about muddy stains, we’ve got some good advice on how to deal with them at the end of this blog post.) Next you need:
Lots of dirt! (Any sort of soil or compost will do)
A small container or box to make the mini garden in (a shallow tray or foil-lined shoe box will work)
Things to put in the fairy garden – such as twigs, small plants, flowers
Decorations for the garden – like toys, decorations, pebbles
Water to make things grow
A trowel or a big spoon
Some old newspaper to catch any spilt soil
Encourage your child to be creative when they’re thinking of things to put in their mini fairy garden. Twigs can be turned into mini trees, small plants can be mini bushes or hedges, pebbles can be mini paving stones. Perhaps a small cup of water can be a mini pond? And toy people and animals can be used to populate their mini garden.
How to make a fairy garden
Firstly, the really messy part. This is where you let your little one get muddy hands, face and clothes.
Lay down some old newspaper on a table or floor so that it’s easy to clear up after the garden is complete
Put the box or container on the newspaper and then trowel or spoon the soil into it
You probably need to help smaller children with this but older children should be encouraged to get hands-on. Remember, they won’t just be making a mess, they’ll also be learning good hand-eye coordination skills
Next comes the planning of your mini fairy garden.
Ask your little one to think about what they want to put in their garden and how they want it to look
They could do a drawing first to design the garden like a landscaper would
Help them to gather the right things for the fairy garden – either from around the house or from your own garden or a nearby park
Then comes the planting.
Let your child do this themselves unless they really are too young. They should plant their garden according to their design
Don’t forget that plants will need water so you’ll need to water the mini fairy garden just like any other
Once the plants are in it’s time to add the “design features” such as pebbles, garden furniture, or even a mini pond
Finally help your child add the finishing touches – this could be grass or flowers – and some toy people or animals to live in the fairy garden
You’ll know the garden is ready when you’ve got a smiling child who is covered more or less from head to toe in mud or soil and a beautifully crafted mini fairy garden. These creative little fairy gardens make a thoughtful gift for a friend or relative!
Don’t worry too much if you find they have got mud on their cotton clothes from all the digging, it’s easy to get out. Just let the mud dry, then scrub with a brush. Once you’ve scrubbed, wash on a normal cycle with the OMO detergent of your choice.