There’s no better isolation idea which will tick the boxes for creativity in art and design, for maths if they are old enough to measure and draw to scale, for map creation skills for geography and, an activity which can be done both as an indoor and outdoor project for hours and hours of endless fun! Grab some paper, pencils, a ruler and maybe an eraser so your children can start to draw out a map of their garden.
Depending on where you live and what access you have to your own or a communal garden, children can choose to draw out the garden from the bird’s eye view of an upstairs window or to sit in the garden and draw a 3D view of it. Older children could step out the length and width of the garden or get out a measuring tape if they wanted to try and draw it exactly to scale. If you have a compass lying about or can use the compass app your phone, children could work out which way the garden faces and plot North and South on their maps.
Once the basic outline of the garden is drawn, features such as paths, decks, patios, lawns, fences, hedges, sheds, washing lines, trampolines, swings, goal posts or raised beds should be drawn in to fill in the structure of the garden. Then the fun can begin of drawing in the trees, shrubs, plants and flowers!
This is a great way to help children learn the names of plants and to talk about why certain plants are placed where the sun shines all day or which ones only grow in wet, shady areas. You can talk to them about bulbs and perennials and why the garden looks different during different seasons and all the things that go on under the ground! The great thing about this activity is that you can expand it based on the ability and interest of your children.
If have young children for whom fine detail drawing might be challenging, grab a couple of magazines and get them to cut out trees, plants and flowers to stick on the drawing – scissor and gluing skills covered too!
Another great way of developing this activity is to then ask your children to go on and build a 3D model of their garden from the plan they have drawn – hours of creativity and mess and fun guaranteed! This is also a great way to repurpose some household waste and engage your children in the value of reusing and recycling: an upside down, plastic grape box would make an ideal greenhouse in their garden model and cut up cereal boxes could be turned into paths and raised beds! Give them lots of scrap materials and the run of the kitchen table and watch their imaginations run wild!
Once your map or model is complete, it can be used as a planning point for the development of that garden. Ask your children what is missing from the garden and what they would like to see in it? Maybe they would like to have a wildlife corner or attract more butterflies to the garden; maybe they would like to sow some strawberries or grow a giant sunflower; maybe they want to build a den or create a bug hotel? Use the map already created to help them plan what they could add to the garden and where those new features could work.
Don’t throw away the garden map or model created by your children once the project is complete as you can bring it back out in a month or two and ask them to compare the garden now to the garden when they drew it out. They could perhaps, design another drawing of the Summer garden for comparison or simply add to the model already created. What a wonderful way to allow your children to monitor the growing and changing of the seasons!
If you don’t have a garden, you could ask your children to design a mood board and then plan out what their ideal garden would look like – note to self, that could be an expensive wishlist!
Getting your children to map out your garden can be as basic or developed an activity as you choose it to be. It can range from a simple sketch to a full drawing to scale; it can be a flat plan or a 3D model; it can be coloured using pencils, paint or magazine cut-outs; it can include current and future plans and show progression in the garden from Spring to Summer and beyond. There no better time to slip an appreciation of their green spaces into your children’s day and by doing it in such a fun way, they’ll never even realise the skills and knowledge they are assimilating!
Please not, the maps and models shown here were all created by High School students as part of the RHS’s #GreenPlanIt Challenge so don’t be daunted by them. I’d love to see your children’s creations once they’ve drawn out their maps or made their models. Please do post some pictures on The Pink Wheelbarrow’s Facebook Page.