1. Lady beetles rock!
With a lick of paint and a dose of imagination, kids can turn smooth pebbles into pretty garden decorations, just like this lady beetle.
How to make it: Lay out newspaper on your workbench. Coat the pebble in primer. Let dry. Use water-based paint in red to paint two-thirds of the pebble – this is the beetle’s body. Paint the remaining third in water-based black paint – this is the beetle’s head. Let dry. Use a fine paintbrush and black paint to decorate the beetle with spots, and use black and white paint to form eyes, using the picture as a guide. You can apply water-based sealer to the critters before they make their way into the garden.
2. Terrific terrariums
Let the kids look after their own miniature garden by helping them create a terrarium.
How to make it: Choose a clean and dry, clear glass vessel. Add a layer of potting mix to the base of the vessel. Add your plants, then use tweezers to carefully place small stones and toys in the miniature garden world. You can scatter decorative gravel over the surface of the potting mix for a finished look. Psst… If only using air plants, no soil is required. However, you will need to water any plant you choose – a spray bottle with a mist setting is perfect for this.
3. Hey, birdies!
Why not build a simple birdhouse with the kids? It’s a project that is equal parts fun for adults and the littlies – especially when you spot feathery friends enjoying the house once you’re done.
How to make it: Sketch up your design with the kids and see what amazing ideas they come up with. Once you’ve decided on the finished design, a grown-up needs to cut the timber pieces to make the walls, roof and base. You can even cut a heart-shaped opening as a doorway, as here. Glue and screw the house together, then add a perch at the front with a short length of dowel. Now, it’s over to the kids to decorate the house with water-based exterior paint. Fit an eye-hook to the top of the house and suspend it from a branch in a backyard tree. Now the kids can be backyard birdwatchers!
4. Wonderful wind chimes
Almost any natural found objects that kids collect can be turned into a unique wind chime – think twigs, shells, driftwood and smooth sea glass.
How to make it: Choose what you’re going to hang the chimes from – a 30cm-long (approximately) piece of driftwood or dry tree branch is ideal for this. Get the kids to thread their collections onto twine or strong fishing line – tying knots to keep each component nice and secure. You need 5-10 strands of treasures. Attach each strand to the hanger, and then suspend the finished chime in a spot where it catches the breeze.
5. Build a bug hotel
By positioning an insect hotel in your garden, you increase the opportunity for beneficial bugs to stop by. Plus, encouraging biodiversity in your yard raises the productivity of your garden ecosystem. Building an insect hotel (also called a bug hotel or bug box) is a fun – and educational – project to make with the kids, too!
How to make it: Choose your frame – it should be open on one side and closed on the other. Do a little research into what bugs thrive in your area, and then choose materials to fill the frame, to suit. You can stack hollow lengths of bamboo into the frame, pile logs with holes drilled into the ends and contain pockets of leaf matter behind wire mesh. Also try stacking cardboard tubes, egg cartons, small stones, pieces of concrete, bricks with holes, pine cones and pieces of bark. Have a play around with the look of the bug-attracting layers, position the finished hotel in a raised position and then watch on as the bugs check-in to their new accommodation.