We had another busy morning in the garden today! The preschooler has been desperate to do three things- make mud pies, grow some snakes and construct a scarecrow to protect his crops! So, who am I to argue with that? It all sounded like a wonderful way to nourish his burgeoning love of gardening!
We started with the mud pie kitchen, which was really really easy to make. Trust me, anyone can set up a mud kitchen like this outside. You only need a few items:
- small table- can be wooden or plastic, new or old. As long as you are fine with it being outside and getting muddy!
- a fence, wall or board to set the table against. I used the garden fence for ours.
- 3-4 nails and a hammer
- various mud kitchen utensils. I hunted around for a mixture of ‘real life’ equipment to go with the pretend items we already had: pots, pans, rolling pins, barbecue grill, pizza cutting board, bowls, spoons, spatulas, spreaders etc.
- chalkboard- this is optional but I wanted there to be somewhere for the preschooler to practise writing.
- sand and mud.
- buckets and spades for digging the mud.
- pots, jugs and containers for water.
To make the mud kitchen, I simply put my wooden table up against the fence, next to the water wall (which is still in progress!). I hammered a couple of nails into the fence so that I could hang an apron and some pots, pans and sieves etc, to make it look like a real kitchen. I also hung the chalkboard. Then I moved the old water table next to the wooden table so that the children would have somewhere to collect and mix their mud, and popped a large plastic container of sand underneath
All of this is right next to the the sensory garDEN, meaning that this area of the garden is very interactive and child led indeed!
Next up on the busy list for today was planting snakes. Yes, really. These really fun seeds caught our eye the other day at the garden centre. The plants grow fruit which look like snakes, and can be picked, dried and painted as such! What a fabulous idea!
The preschooler is an old hand at planting now, so once I had made a few newspaper pots, he quickly filled them with soil, watered them, and made a 1cm hole for the seeds to go into. The seeds have to placed on their sides which was a good opportunity for some fine motor skills practise! Once planted, the pots went inside plastic ziplock bags to keep warm until they are ready to go outside.
The seeds are called Snake Gourd and are available from Thompson and Morgan.
Last on the list this morning was the scarecrow. This was fun! The preschooler has been very concerned about birds eating his seeds, especially the beans, and he decided last week that we needed a scarecrow to protect them. I found a really easy tutorial here on the RHS site, which I amended slightly. This is what we used:
- 1x 1m bamboo cane
- 1x 50cm bamboo cane
- 1x 30cm bamboo
- old pair of tights
- meadow hay (99p from Home Bargains in the pet section)
We followed the instructions on the RHS site:
- tie the 50cm cane to the 1m cane close to the top to make a cross shape.
- tie the 30cm cane to the middle of the 1m cane.
- cut off one leg of the tights and stuff with hay to make the head. We secured it with a rubber band to stop the hay falling out.
- I deviated from the instructions here and instead of tying the head to the cane (I found it kept flopping to the side as it was quite heavy) I pushed the cane through the middle of the rubber band and up into the hay inside the tights. This kept it securely in place.
- dress the scarecrow- we used some of The Big One’s old clothes!
Easy peasy! It was really only the tying of the canes that I needed to do myself, the rest was great fun for the preschooler to do, with help. We put the scarecrow outside next to the sensory garDEN and when The Big One gets home from school I will ask her to add the face to it. We christened her ‘Big Jill’ after a mispronounced Ben 10 character. Let’s hope she protects our crops!