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Monday, April 18, 2011

Making A Play Garden From The Imagination Tree

One of my all time favorite blogs is The Imagination Tree as it is always full of simple inspiration and creative ideas to do with the kids. I am so excited and honoured to have Anna here with us today and sharing how to make a fabulous play garden!

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With Spring finally here, breathing a wonderfully sunny warmth and life into everything, we have been out in the park and the garden for longer each day. When
we painted flowerpots and planted some primroses last month, I realised we were going to need a proper little patch of the garden for the girls to call their own where some playful and fun learning can take place.

Our fabulous Pampa came over last week and helped to turn over a little semi-circlular patch of the lawn next to (a very empty!) flower bed. We moved the bricks that had been there and used them to mark out the edges of the garden area.
Next, Cakie and I went on a big-girls-only expedition to the garden centre where we picked out some low fencing on a roll, a bag of compost, a few plants and some kiddie tools.

We put the fencing around the semi-circle and left a little gap for getting in and out. She told me "you forgot the gate Mummy." Mud overalls on and straight into the patch to dig and make "mud castles" using the bucket and new trowel!

And some mud cup-cakes of course. We are very 2011 daaaarling.

We planted her choice of pretty pink flowers, having left behind the pretty little daisy bush we bought at the shop. So very typical of me!

We also planted some lavender and lemon thyme to add a sensory section to the garden. Later we will move some mint over from the main garden too as well as a rosemary bush to fill the air with a lovely range of fragrances.

Some mini-tools for digging in the mud and her trusty watering can.

Yes, she wore her wellies and a tutu. We just went with it :-)

We brought out a pile of the pebbles that she played with the other day and she used them to do tipping, arranging and collecting with. She used her plastic tea set to have a picnic. We added a little windmill for no other reason than it was pretty and she could watch it spin in the wind!

And she poked her finger into the soil and popped in one of the pebbles, saying "I planted a seed to grow."

We used a turned up flower pot, half of a terracotta urn and a log to begin the makings of a mini-beast habitat. We will leave them undisturbed, face down in the soil for as long as possible to attract little creatures to come and live underneath and then we will take a look at what we can find with some magnifying glasses.

I placed some of the grass that we dug up from the lawn into one of our small world trays and put it at the back of the garden space for playing with. There are some plastic toy bugs, pebbles and a flower pot to form part of the mini-garden-within-a-garden small world scene!

Baby Pop is absolutely thrilled with the whole affair and has learnt how to wildly crawl up the steps and whisk over to the area of muddy delight in a flash! I'm growing eyes in the back of my head again :-)

This post is "Part 1" because I'm hoping to update on the progress that we make over the Spring and Summer. We shall we adding some instruments, opportunities for outdoor art, growing some vegetables and making a lovely, playful, imaginative mess together :-) This is already Cakie's absolute favourite place to come and play and I can't wait to see it develop into her very own, special space.
This activity is good for:
* Science (Knowledge & Understanding of the World): minibeast names, characterisitcs and habitats/naming,growing and caring for plants
* Sensory play: exploring the world using all of the senses
* Gross motor skills: digging, watering, chopping
* Creativity and story-telling: adding narrative to play
* Imaginative play: mud pies/ mud cakes/ grass soups/ small world insect play/ tea parties/ picnics etc
* Role play: gardening and cooking
* Emergent reading: looking at plant care labels and understanding their purpose

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This idea is contributed by Anna from The Imagination Tree. Anna is an Early Years specialist teacher with a background in the arts, who is now a SAHM to two little girls.


  1. What fun it would be to pretend in the dirt!

  2. Oh goodness, this is absolutely adorable! Can you make me one?! I love how kid-friendly it is - the perfect size and all the right stuff. Thanks for some ideas!

  3. Awesome! We've been gardening too! Love the Imagination Tree! Great post!


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