With everything that’s going on in the world at the moment, it can be difficult to stand back and get a good perspective on life sometimes. Lots of us are stuck inside, staring at the four walls of our houses and flats and it can be a struggle to remind ourselves of what May used to be all about – warmer weather, watching the bulbs come up and celebrating spring! But let’s not forget that even though there are restrictions on our movements, there’s never a restriction on our thoughts, and that’s what really matters. Because our thoughts can turn into wonderful things, as our thoughts allow us to visualise a paradise where there was once a patch of bare earth. And that’s just where this month’s National Children’s Gardening Week can step in to lift your spirits and help you get back to nature with some creative and fun activities which can not only keep you busy, but also bring the outside in, as well as giving hope to children in hospices up and down the country.
National Children’s Gardening Week was the brainchild of Neil Grant, who is the Managing Director of Ferndale Garden Centre near Sheffield and BBC Radio Sheffield’s gardening expert. He created National Children’s Gardening Week to celebrate the fun that gardens mean to children and to help raise money for the charity, Greenfingers, which provides magical gardens and outdoor spaces for children in hospices suffering from life-limiting or life-threatening illnesses.
The week runs from 23rd to 31st May and usually ties in with school holidays, allowing for lots of outdoor activities for children, their parents and grandparents alike. The current restrictions should not be seen as limiting because of what you can’t do, but rather a ‘challenge’ for what you can do with the experience, time and resources you do have. When you view it like that, who doesn’t want to get involved and take up the challenge?
We’ve all seen the wonder on little faces when a beansprout sprouts, or a sunflower starts soaring for the sky. It’s magical, it’s educational and it’s heart-warming to be able to encourage a love of nature and an interest in the world around us. These are gardening activities, yes, but neither need a garden or even an outdoor space to be successful. Just a bit of imagination, a few inexpensive resources, patience and some well-placed trust – that mother nature will do what mother nature does best – survive and thrive!
How to get involved
So the challenge this year is to come up with some innovative and creative ways to encourage the children in your setting to join in with gardening too, regardless of whether they are currently able to attend the setting or not.
The official website has a lot of downloadable activities and information to help you including some great projects such as:
- Growing cress-heads
- Planting cascading strawberries
- Growing sunflowers
- Stacking plant pots
However, there are also lots of craft-based activities too, such as:
- Painting garden markers or decorations using stones
- Making a fairy house from a plant pot
- Building a hedgehog den
- Mixing up some hanging bird treats
We’ve also thought up some of our own to get you started. You could:
- Grow herbs in reused and painted cans
- Leave some seed potatoes, celery or carrot tops out in some shallow water and watch them sprout
- Grow some garlic or small onions
- Buy a mushroom growing kit and show the children that not all plants like the light
- Grow some lucky bamboo
- And if you really don’t have any gardening resources, you could always encourage the children to paint their favourite garden flower or garden inhabitant!
If you are lucky and do have access to an outside space, why not try creating a sensory path using different plants and building materials in sections such as grass, moss, pebbles and wood chip?
Other suggestions could be:
- Create a miniature garden on a paper plate or old tray
- Make a fairy garden
- Grow some vegetables or salad items
- Plant a hanging basket
- Make some wild art using twigs, pinecones, pebbles and leaves
Whatever resources you have, you can get involved in this year’s National Children’s Gardening Week, so don’t let the week pass by without introducing the children you know to some gardening. Even if your setting is not running physically, why not run a competition between your families and staff to come up with some great, little garden ideas? Share your pictures with your families by posting your pictures on your website or social media channels and remember to send us some images of your successes too by emailing us at email@example.com.
If you enjoy the week and want to extend the joy that it brings to other children and make a real difference, why not consider sending a donation to the charity that National Children’s Gardening Week supports – Greenfingers?
Who are Greenfingers?
Greenfingers is a small national charity who create inspiring gardens and outdoor spaces for children in hospices to enjoy with their families. They could be for play and fun, therapeutic rest and relaxation or memorials for lost friends and loved ones. At any one time in the UK, there are at least 7,000 children in 49 specialised hospices. In the gardens created by the charity, children can do their own gardening activities, which aim to make the most of ‘living’ at a time when almost everything else in their life can seem focused on the opposite. The Greenfingers website reminds us that “whilst many people may take for granted the simple pleasure of being able to enjoy a garden, for these children, their siblings and their families, the chance to spend time together outdoors and away from the bedside is precious”.