Gardening is one of the greatest ways to stimulate a child’s imagination. The best part is that kids will be learning all about nature the environment, and many other educational subjects without even realising it. They’ll be having so much fun the learning just comes naturally. From the use of sensory gardens and the incorporation of whimsical elements to specific garden themes and wildlife habitats, imagination is sure to blossom.
By using a variety of sensory plants and activities, you can create the perfect place to spark kids’ imagination. Sensory gardens stimulate all the senses, making the gardening experience that much greater. Create fun play areas and add plants that provide interesting textures, colours, and forms. Include textures such as soft, fuzzy lamb’s ear or papery feeling strawflower. There are plants that are feathery, velvety, and sticky. You may even want to include spiky plants, like holly, but do so with caution so the kids don’t get hurt. Bright colours stimulate excitement while diverse plantings allow kids to experience the wonders of wildlife visitors in the garden.
Don’t forget plants that have unique fragrances, sounds, and tastes. Fragrant plants stimulate their sense of smell. There are plants that smell spicy, sweet, and downright stinky. Nonetheless, the kids will love them. As the kids smell a variety of flowers, ask them to draw a picture of what the aromas remind them of. You’ll be amazed at the imagination this one brings.
Sounds in the garden can take kids to far away places. There are plants that make loud, rattling noises or soft, rustling sounds. Fun water features, like gurgling fountains, can add to this experience. Have the kids close their eyes and ask them to visualise places or things that make similar sounds.
Edible plantings appeal to their taste buds. Be sure to include a variety of vegetables in the sensory garden. Allow the kids to explore different tastes by adding plants that are sweet, salty, bitter, and tangy.
Another great way to stimulate kids’ imagination is by adding whimsical elements and accessories to the garden. These can take the form of anything from interesting play areas, whimsical seating, and creative stepping-stones to wind chimes, water features, birdfeeders and more.
Inspire digging by adding a sandbox in the play area. Make the play area look like a secret hideaway by creating a sunflower house. Seating could be nothing more than a couple of painted stumps, a hammock, a colourful bench, or a log. Whatever they think up, you can usually make it happen, or at least come close.
Stepping-stones are easy to make yourself and the kids will love helping out. Allow them to add their own artefacts like pebbles, shells, marbles, etc. They can even add their handprints. Place them in the garden and the kids will take great pride in their ‘handy’ work.
Wind chimes make great accessories as well. These can also be constructed quite easily from things you may already have lying around. Anything a child can make will stimulate the imagination. Water features are another good way to spark imagination. Remember to keep it simple, especially around younger kids.
Help the kids attract wildlife to the garden. Let them make their own birdfeeders. When the birds come to visit, arm the kids with binoculars for a closer view. Allow them to draw the different types and research them for easier identification.
Nothing triggers the imagination quite like a theme garden. Not only does this allow them to create their own make-believe environment, but also you will get the chance to see through their eyes. Let them choose what they want in their theme garden. Themes can be based on a variety of things such as book characters, games, hobbies, occupations, etc. The ideas are endless. Include plants and accessories that fit the theme. For instance, an animal garden could include plants with animal names like lamb’s ear, catmint, toad lily, rabbit grass, etc. Theme gardens are the perfect way to include some of the kids’ favourites while stimulating their creativity.
Wildlife in the garden stimulates interest as well as the imagination. Kids are naturally fascinated with and curious about animals. Help kids create wildlife habitats in the garden and include things like bird and toad houses. Plant a variety of flowers that attract butterflies and other insects. Have the kids observe wildlife creatures in the garden and let them pretend to be one of them. What kind of home would this animal have? What does it eat? Go on nature walks and hunt for clues left behind by wildlife like feathers, tracks, snail trail, etc. Talk to them about insects and catch some for observation before letting them go.