Children are natural explorers and even the smallest garden can become a magical place for adventures in summertime. There's so much to see and do, from watching bees, bugs and butterflies, to getting stuck in to digging and planting. And seeing just how much mud they can manage to cover themselves in, of course!
Their happiness and imagination is infectious, so why don't you head outside and join in the fun too? Here are our five top tips for things to do with kids in the garden ...
1. Help them grow
This is the theme of National Children's Gardening Week, which runs from 28th May - 5th June. It's held at this time of year so children can see the results of their planting and sowing sooner rather than later. Check out their website for what's on around the UK, find handy resources and discover fun kids' activities including planting a bulb lasagne and making a snail racetrack
Encouraging your kids to grow anything is a great way to develop their own confidence and self esteem as well. And it's even better if they're growing vegetables to cook and enjoy at home, promoting healthy eating. Why not treat them to their very own gardening tools like those above from Burgon & Ball?
2. Start a nature journal
Get them a large scrap book and help channel their natural curiosity by writing about what they see in the garden and adding drawings, pressed flowers and photos. A magnifying glass for studying busy ants and bugs and some inexpensive binoculars to spot different kinds of birds can really bring the natural world to life for the youngest child, and encourage a love of learning.
Encourage them to use all their senses as well, and record what they hear, smell, feel and taste (with supervision) in their journal. The RSPB has a great garden birds playlist to help identify which ones are the sweetest singers (blackcaps, apparently) and which ones rely more on enthusiasm than melody!
3. Make your garden wildlife friendly
Develop children's nurturing skills by creating a garden that attracts and supports birds, insects and animals as well as people! Check out our blog post "Three easy ways to grow a wildlife garden" for some super practical tips. These include designing wildlife friendly outdoor spaces that work for everyone, including different habitats for different species, and adding water and food all year round.
And you can also find all sorts of different nesting boxes, bird feeders and even hedgehog and frog houses, which kids will love as much as the wildlife they've been cleverly designed for. Peek into our Nature Shop for lots more gift ideas!
4. Get arty outside
This is definitely a win:win scenario for kids and adults alike, as they can get to be as messy as they like and you don't have to worry about carpets or furniture being (ahem) "decorated". Paper, card, clay, paints, crayons, glue, old cards, magazines, glitter from last year’s Christmas decorations … everything is fair game. And why not get stuck in too - after all, being creative is one of the best ways to improve your own wellbeing.
Remember to take advantage of all the opportunities for natural art, too! Creative kids love making patterns and 3D sculptures with leaves, stones and twigs. Take photos of their handicraft and create your very own family art gallery.
5. Camping under the stars
One of the all time favourite activities for children in the garden (even if the stars aren't particularly visible because of weather conditions or urban light pollution). No airport delays, forgetting passports, or travel sickness involved - instead all the fun of the great outdoors in a garden that looks very different to a child at night.
It's the perfect time to light the barbecue, play games with the family, and then settle down (hopefully) with spooky stories before bedtime ... One or two nights at a time are likely to be enough for most kids (and certainly us). Unlike the incredible 12 year old Max Woosey, "the boy in the tent", who camped outdoors for over 2 years to raise more than £700,000 for the North Devon Hospice!
Those are our top five tips for things to do with the kids in the garden. Do you agree or disagree? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments box below. And you can find plenty more suggestions for outdoor fun and gift inspiration in our Kids Stuff collection.