Children love to plant gardens, and it is especially beneficial for them to do so. Unfortunately, plants can take an awful long time to grow and children are not known for their patience.
And I have learned the hard way that if you attempt to grow a garden with starter plants rather than seeds, the children might be tempted to dig them up and replant them frequently, which can cause root damage and undo stress to the plant.
In an effort to minimize the damage to our live plants, I created this pretend play garden for my children and their friends, and it has so far been a roaring success.
It started with a simple wooden pallet that we found for free in a scrap pile last year.
I painted the pallet with some mint green paint we had left over after another project.
Then I filled the inside of the pallet with dirt from the hole we dug for our in-ground trampoline.
Once the pallet was all painted pretty and full of dirt, we stocked up on garden tools.
A 3-pack of garden gloves.
Plastic garden trowels and plastic hand-rakes, 3 of each.
(We wrapped the handles in red, yellow, and blue duct tape for fun.)
Plastic flower pots and terracotta flower pots.
A 5 gallon bucket full of more dirt.
Some empty laminated seed packets left over from a school project two years ago. Our seed packets are all vegetables, I will probably make some more with flower seed packets later this year.
And lots and lots of silk flowers.
Most of the supplies used in our pretend play flower garden were things we either already had on hand, or things that we purchased from Dollar Tree. There is no need to pay a lot to make your own pretend play garden when it can be done for just a few dollars.
This has been an excellent addition to our outdoor classroom, and we’ve seen a lot of play-based learning taking place in this pretend play flower garden so far.
SunnyGirl loves to sort the flowers by color.
She counts the petals on the flowers and counts the flowers in a row. We’ve even caught her doing basic math, “3 yellow flowers plus 1 purple flower equals 4 flowers!”
She examines the various parts of the plant: stem, leaf, flower. She talks about how the roots are the part below the dirt and how plants come from seeds. She collects various types of seeds from the yard (acorns, fallen bird food, etc..) and plants them in the pots.
She strengthens her wrists and hands by digging in the dirt and practices her pincer grasp as she pulls the flowers out by the thin wire stems, both of which will benefit her when she is ready to start writing letters.
She and her friends also like to arrange the flowers in pots and “give them away” to each other and their parents and/or the neighbors when they are out in their yards. We see a lot of cooperative play and communication taking place in the flower garden.