Gardening has become one of my favorite activities (surprisingly enough to me!). Maybe it’s being outside and feeling the earth after a long New England winter. But I also think it’s, in part, because it is something I can do — and accomplish — with kids in tow.
I love working and learning alongside my children in the garden. But designating a section of our garden as a fairy garden — filled with trinkets and toys — has easily been the best decision I’ve made as a gardener. Not only is it adorable and fun, it serves a function — keeping my children entertained in the garden long enough for me to get actual work done.
Building a fairy garden can be as easy or as intricate as you’d like. We started ours with items found around the yard and house and then graduated to lucky thrift store finds, rocks and beads from the dollar store, and even some great gifted pieces from grandparents. No matter what materials you decide to use, the goal is the same: to allow children a space to create and play while enjoying time outdoors.
This activity is extremely easy and should provide you with a good return on your time investment. We are going on our third year of having a fairy garden, and it’s only getting better — the kids play in it independently, and I can work in the garden or even sneak in a page or two of a book nearby.
Gather your supplies
Compile whatever supplies you have on hand to get your garden party started. I suggest starting small, with things you may have in your yard or in your home, to see if your child(ren) enjoys this before going big. We utilized little things from around the house, such as Legos, dinosaurs from a “dig it” kit, rocks, sticks, and ferns.
Use sticks, rocks, or whatever supplies you have on hand to build a house, a garden, or whatever your child wants to create! Work with them — in the beginning — to help guide the process and see if they need a little inspiration: “I wonder if this fern would work as a roof?” Guide them as they learn to create in the yard, and then watch their imaginations take off.
Parenting expert Kim John Payne suggests working or playing with a child for 10 minutes before telling them you’re off to complete a different task. By then, they will be established in play and have felt connected to you and let you leave with ease.
It’s time to play! Once you have a fairy garden spot established, it should blossom naturally from there. Ours has gotten so much play (and bought me a sufficient amount of gardening time) that it has taken over an entire raised bed in the center of our garden. It is a highlight for my kids’ cousins and friends when they come over to our house because it is so unique.