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Summer Garden Activities for Preschoolers | DIY

Make the most of the warmer weather with our top five summer garden activities. Perfect for preschool-aged children (and their big siblings too), they are sure to keep young minds engaged and entertained outdoors. We have included everything from gardening and water play to art and crafts, all encouraging maximum creativity and promising fun.

Engaging children in play that involves natural elements develops their key motor skills is so important. Garden activities are a wonderfully positive way for little ones to learn fundamental skills and discover nature through play. Older siblings might enjoy setting up these activities for their younger siblings and playing alongside them too.

21 Jul 2021

1. Water play

Playing with water is such a simple yet endlessly engaging activity for children. There are various set-ups you can choose from – a simple scoop, measure and pour station provides an open opportunity to build upon a child’s motor skills and scientific knowledge while a game of ‘alphabet soup’ engages letter recognition and opens up a conversation on early phonics. We have detailed how to set up a game of alphabet soup below.


You will need:

-   Tub of water

-   Colourful plastic letter beads

-   An empty bowl

-   Scoop

-   Tongs or tweezers

-   Magnifying glass


How to make it:

-   Half-fill a medium-sized tub with cold water.

-   Pour in a variety of colourful plastic beads with letters on.

-   Put an empty bowl next to the tub for your child to put letter beads into that they pick out from the tub.

-   Provide your child with a scoop, tongs or tweezers and a magnifying glass for picking beads out of the water with and identifying the letters.

-   You can extend the activity by asking your child to find the letters in their name and have a go at sorting them into the right order once outside the tub. Try this with other words too if your child is confident at spelling their name.

2. Planting flowers

Planting flowerpots or a hanging basket is a great way to let your child get their hands dirty and be hands-on with nature. Not only will they be learning whilst planting, but they will continue to learn as they care for the plants in the weeks and months to come and benefit from the responsibility of looking after them. The very tactile nature of this activity provides all the benefits of sensory play.


You will need:

-   An empty flower pot with drainage holes or a hanging basket

-   A coffee filter or broken terracotta pot if using a flowerpot

-   Potting mix

-   Flowering plants

-   Trowel

-   Water


How to make it:

-   If you are using a flower pot with drainage holes that the potting mix will easily fall through, line it with a coffee filter or some loose terracotta pot pieces to keep the soil in.

-   Fill your pot or hanging basket two-thirds full with potting mix.

-   Taking into account the size of your pot or hanging basket, decide on an arrangement. Carefully remove the plants from the container they were sold in, being careful not to tug on the stem and place them carefully into the soil.

-   Pat down gently around the stem to secure the plant.

-   Once you have placed all your plants, fill the spaces between them with soil, ensuring they are all at the same level.

-   Help your child by moving the pot/basket to its permanent spot then allow them to water it until water runs out from the bottom. They can enjoy taking care of the plants by watering them every two to three days depending on the heat.

3. Painting with watercolours

A timeless art activity, children love to paint and whilst doing so they are building upon their fine motor skills. Painting with water colours is a great activity for carrying out in the garden as they are easier to clean up than usual paints and you won’t need to worry about any water spillages.


You will need:

-   A piece of plain card

-   Paint brushes

-   A container of clean water

-   Watercolour paints


How to make it:

-   You can set this activity on the paving, the grass, the outdoor table or on an easel – anywhere your child can draw inspiration from their surroundings to create their painting.

-   Allow your child to choose a point in the garden to inspire their painting – flowerbeds are a great option for a colourful piece of artwork.

-   Leave them to paint freely, refreshing the water as and when it is needed.

-   Allow the painting to dry in the sunshine before bringing it inside to put on display.

4. Petal pictures

Another childhood favourite, creating a collage from flower petals is a wonderful summertime activity. Your child can enjoy choosing flowers from the garden to pick in as many colours as they like. The preparation for this activity takes almost as long as the collage making itself, giving them plenty of time outdoors in the open air.


You will need:

-   Flower petals from freshly picked flowers

-   A plain piece of card or a pre-printed picture to decorate with the petals

-   Glue (PVA glue is best)

-   A glue stick (if necessary)

-   A pencil (if necessary)


How to make it:

-   Give your child a basket or a bowl to carry around the garden and gather flowers in. Help them to pick the flowers if they struggle with this.

-   Once you have collected all the flowers you would like, carefully pick the petals off the flower heads and put them aside for later.

-   If you are using a printed picture to decorate, you can begin immediately by adding glue and carefully placing your different flower petals on top to create a beautiful, colourful collage. If you are drawing a picture to decorate, do this first before adding the glue and petals.

5. Mud kitchen

The many benefits of mud kitchen play for young children are widely recognised, and kids love messy play. Mud kitchens encourage endless sensory play as well as engaging fine and gross motor skills and encouraging creativity. A mud kitchen area can be simple to set up without needing to purchase the full structure – just make sure you are happy with any items you provide for this activity getting messy and muddy.


You will need:

-   Big bowls

-   Water (this can be from a hose or watering can)

-   Wooden spoons

-   Buckets

-   Scoops or spoons

-   Kitchen pans and utensils

-   Soil


How to make it:

-   Set out two or three empty bowls and spoons in an area with easy access to mud or soil.

-   Provide your child with a watering can full of water or the hose to fill one of the bowls with water.

-   Leave the utensils and pans next to the bowls and offer your child a spoon to dig up some soil from the ground, collecting it in a bowl.

-   Show your child how to make mud by adding some water to the soil then allow them to mix up the mud and make mud pies in the pans provided!

In style for summer

Whatever the weather, dress little garden explorers in style this summer with a selection of adorablel clothing from Paloma de la O. From beautifully traditional all-in-one outfits, to sweet little separates for children from 0-6 years, there's something for every activity. 

Shop the Paloma de la O collection



All images by Paloma de la O

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