With kids so plugged in these days, it can be a struggle to get them outdoors. Try introducing kids to nature on a very small scale by creating a dinosaur or fairy garden. Perfect for a large planter near a window or a special place in your vegetable garden, these fun projects will inspire little imaginations.
The idea behind a fairy garden is to create a miniature landscape for imaginative play. Before you begin putting the garden together, you need to decide where you’re going to set it up. If your winter seasons are harsh, you may want to use a large planter inside. However, this can be messy. If your seasons are mild, try creating the garden outside. A large planter, such as a tin trough, is a good bet if you have toddlers who can belly up to it for playtime. You can also use an area of your existing landscaping or garden. Just separate the play garden from the rest of the yard with small landscaping dividers or bricks.
Depending on your child’s interests, the miniature landscape you create can be populated with all sorts of toys and knick-knacks. Traditionally, fairy gardens were created to resemble little huts and villages where invisible fairies lived “in the wild.” Not every child is fascinated with magic and fairies. Let your kids guide you. Dinosaur gardens for plastic toys are a common alternative, but you can also create a jungle landscape for action figures or small animal toys. Get your kids involved as you choose the props. Anything from a dollhouse table to smooth river stones can be used as tiny props in your play garden.
A dinosaur or fairy garden is a miniature landscape. With this in mind, choose plants that resemble larger plants. For example, a tiny succulent may resemble a large tree. Avoid plants that require a lot of maintenance and care. You should also avoid plants that break easily and plants with sharp thorns or spikes. Aeoniums come in a huge variety of shades and can generally be found for under $5 at your local garden center. If your climate is nice and sunny, try varieties of miniature palms or snake plants. If you’re not familiar with succulents, visit your local nursery and talk to the staff about your garden plans. They will direct you to child-friendly varieties and you can get a feel for the textures and consistencies of the plants.
This is the fun part. When you’ve gathered your container, soil, plants and props, it’s time to construct your miniature world. Try covering old bowls to make little hills on the landscape. Stack rocks and make stepping stone paths with smooth, flat stones. Ask your kids to gather twigs to make fences and “fire pits” in the garden. Decorate with tiny cloth remnant banners or small wind chimes. Keep it very simple if your kids plan on staging some dinosaur battles or off road car races on the terrain. Don’t forget to take pictures when you’re done.
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