Are you struggling to keep children interested in the garden? The answer lies in garden sculptures. It’s all about good old-fashioned fun with messy mud, rocks and all the interesting materials nature has to offer.
Every garden has a treasure trove of natural materials which present the young sculptor with endless possibilities for arts and crafts projects. Encourage the children to collect rocks, pebbles, twigs, daisies, dandelions, moss and foliage. Even collecting the items and noting their different colours, shapes and textures while sorting them into piles is a whole afternoon’s activity. It’s fun, interesting and educational. Now they have all the materials they need for some quality, creative fun.
Make a Mud Hole
Start by making sure children are kitted out in old outfits. In the same way you would have a sand pit, set aside part of your garden to create a mud hole where the children can wallow. Pick a spot which is free from any gravel, stones or debris. You must check that the area is safe to play in.
Now dig a small ‘moat’ in the middle of your chosen patch and using a watering can, start to introduce some water. Children love this process from start to finish. Knead the mud in the same way you would make bread dough and incorporate as much dirt with the water as you like. With lots of extra help from little hands, it won’t be long before you have the perfect mud patch. Keep the watering can to hand so the kids can add to the mud and control the texture of their raw material.
Now the fun really begins. Here are some arts and crafts projects for them to have a go at:
- Mud baubles are really good fun to make. Roll small nuggets of mud into balls and stud with the different things you can find in the garden. This could be tiny pebbles, daisy heads or little fronds of greenery. Gather the little balls together into a pretty sculpture. Perhaps they could be stacked to create a ‘pyramid’ shape? Or arranged on the grass in a spiral?
- Mud huts and caves are great challenges to build. They teach kids to design, think ahead and work with different types of material. Start by creating the building from a framework of twigs. Once there is a skeleton in place, the hut can be pasted with sticky mud and left in the sun to dry. The effect is even better when leaves, moss or grass are mixed in with the sludge first.
- Fun in the mud wouldn’t be complete without the good old mud pie. Flatten the mud into flat patties and go wild with the decorating. Make enough mud pies and the children can even have fun opening their own bakery in the garden.
On most day trips to the coast or countryside, you can spot the curious increase in rock cairns dotted around rocky landscapes. These little towers of stacked rocks often mark a burst of creativity from people enjoying the great outdoors, a memorial or even a place to meditate. How about challenging the kids to recreate these interesting sculptures in your own garden? The kids can have fun looking out for suitable shapes and textures. They will need quite a large range of stones to create a garden cairn so children will enjoy looking out for rock treasures on their day trips.
It’s quite a challenge to balance the rocks sometimes and work out how cairns will work, so this craft is also a good exercise in physics and engineering! If the children want to decorate the stones, make sure they scrub the stones before going crazy with acrylic paint. They can create mystical shapes, patterns and symbols or draw silly faces on the rocks.
If they make a series of mini cairns, these could be displayed in a small stone trough filled with gravel to keep the sculptures balanced.
There’s no better way to inspire creativity in children than the natural world. Start close to home and take a look around the garden at the wealth of natural arts and crafts materials waiting to be turned into some wonderful arts and crafts projects.