Welcome to my virtual garden of ideas…growing more than green fingers

This section contains lots of gardening related activities. I want to demonstrate that any teacher or parent or play worker can provide simple gardening opportunities for children. Please browse and enjoy 🙂

I’m not a professional gardener and my own garden is one big experiment. If I can garden, then any teacher can. If a plant or structure survives in my garden, then it probably will do alright in a school garden too as I do specialise in ones which cope with benign neglect.

Gardening probably covers more experiences and outcomes than any other activity in schools. The trick is to spend time planning how a class of 33 children can get the hands on experience needed. Start small, be prepared to experiment and put a gardening calendar in place to ensure the basic jobs are done when needed.

Remember that gardens link to many projects. For example, a Victorian garden can have heritage vegetables. A Dig for Victory garden brings alive this practical aspect of coping during the Second World War.

By gardening organically and re-using and recycling as much as possible, you can ensure children have opportunities to learn about sustainable living in a practical, hands on way.

Gardening, Wildlife and Biodiversity

Willow structures

Clare Revera’s guest post

Wonderful Willow at The Coombes School

A willow museum and other activities based upon willow

Wee green fingers

Advice and information about biodiversity gardening with young children

Composting

The ins and outs of making compost

Squirrels and birds

Squirrel proof bird feeders

Plants, Containers and Raised Beds

Some thoughts about the play and learning value of these items

Ponds in schools and nurseries

Some thoughts, ideas and examples

Creating a pond from a tyre

My mini pond is growing!

Herb geek heaven

My love affair with herbs

Shady solutions

Using trees for shade and shelter

Gardening at Inveraray Primary School

Have a look at this West Coast example

Creating Bird Friendly Schools and Nurseries

Top tips from RSPB Officer, Claire Marsden

A Bird Feeding Garden

A natural alternative to traditional hangers and bird feeders with curriculum ideas included. A must read.

Specific School Grounds Garden Projects

A Wonderful Wildlife Garden

Former professional wildlife gardener turned RSPB Officer, Ella McLellan, gives some useful advice and food for thought about wildlife gardens in schools

A Crocus Labyrinth

Reflections on flowers and the humble crocus

Palettes for Re-purposing and Play

A super play garden made from wooden palettes!

Zen Gardens

A reflection upon creating meditative landscapes

Fairy Gardens and Literacy

A super context for fantasy small-world play outside. It’s been an ongoing project in Westpark nursery.

Short, Simple Gardening-related Activities

DIY Clipboard Flower Press

Big or small, you can now press your favourite plants easily and quickly.

Repurpose School Books into Seed Packets

Start collecting seeds in these DIY packets. Create a seed exchange with local schools.

Origami Seed Packets

A simple way of making packets to collect and store seeds. Brilliant!

Check out this Greenhouse

An amazing indoor experience!

Kickstarting a whole school approach to gardening

Riverbank Primary School’s garden trug show! Before long they could rival Chelsea Flower Show!

The Soapwort Experiment

Using a natural soap for hand washing – easy to grow and use.

Playful Garden Projects

5 Ways to Re-use your Christmas Tree

Don’t chuck it out – old trees can be used as mulch, to cover muddy ground and much more.

How to Make a Seed Bomb

A spot of guerrilla gardening!

The Forbidden Fun of Compost Bins

Repurposing a garden object

Minibeast Garden Projects

Log Piles – Creating a Flourishing Wildlife Community

The old-fashioned log pile is an essential feature in any school ground or outdoor space and great for biodiversity.

Minibeast Hotels and Other Residences

Exploring a variety of man-made minibeast dwellings. Upcycle, recycle, be artistic and creative and enjoy seeing the wildlife move in.

Minibeast Habitats

A selection of very simple and doable ideas for making your grounds more welcoming for our little creatures.

Confessions of a worm worrier

Advice for establishing a wormery

Various Gardening Posts

101 Things For Kids To Do Outside

Dawn Isaac’s brilliant book – full of outdoor and gardening related activities.

The Pansy Project

One pansy. One play. One photo. One act of homophobic or transphobic abuse is quietly acknowledged. Please support this guerrilla gardening arts project by Paul Harfleet.

Scarecrows

Celebrating a new garden in style

Foraging for Fruit

A way to develop a life long interest in gardening!

Communities and Gardens

An adult learning project leads the way for practical and enterprising approaches to gardening that schools can use for ideas and inspiration

Do you have a poisonous plant in your school garden?

The answer is likely to be “yes” and everyone is just fine

The Soapwort Experiment

27 October 2016
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Natural soap – a “handy” thing!

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8 Easy Minibeast Habitats Young Children Can Make

28 April 2016
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Giving little creatures a home!

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Kickstarting a Whole School Approach to Gardening

30 June 2015
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Last week I had the privilege of visiting Riverbank Primary School in Aberdeen to be one of several judges of the trug gardening competition. This year, the school decided that it would be a great way to celebrate the outdoor spaces and raise awareness of the benefits of gardening.

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Re-using Paper – Origami Seed Packets

30 May 2015
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Recently I blogged about making seed packets from unwanted books. This is a brilliant concept in that it’s an informal approach to children continuing to interact with text in a way that is short, sweet and fun. When I posted this blog, Mark Paterson, the Curator of Cruickshank Botanic Garden, told me that he and […]

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DIY Clipboard Flower Press

14 May 2015
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I have never been a big fan of the commercial flower presses. They are fiddly to use, a fixed shape and usually too small at that. Normally I just press flowers between by inserting them between kitchen roll and sticking them inside a big heavy book. This is fine at home, but when out and […]

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Repurpose school books into seed packets

11 March 2015
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There are many books especially textbooks and non-fiction books which are simply no longer fit for purpose. Some charities, such as Books Abroad, will take unwanted educational texts, but their criteria needs to be checked and only specific books can be donated. Recently I met Bridgette Watts, who is an active member of the volunteer organisation Urban […]

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Play Stumps

14 September 2014
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Back in March, I was visiting Meethill School in Peterhead to do some twilight training. The nursery have been working hard to develop their outdoor space. One of my favourite features were the stumps in the photo above.

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The Biblical Garden

11 August 2014
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A couple of months ago, I was passing through Elgin and took the opportunity to visit the Biblical Garden, which is the only one of its kind in Scotland. Having never visited before, I was rather intrigued to find out more.  They are known for housing some or all of the plants mentioned in the Bible. […]

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Minibeast Hotels and Other Residences

24 May 2014
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There is something about humans which makes us not only want to adapt and change our own habitats and homes, but that of other creatures. Generally, the more natural an environment the better it is for wildlife to flourish. Given that most school grounds are highly artificial outdoor spaces, then providing artificial homes for minibeasts […]

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Log Piles – Creating a Flourishing Wildlife Community

21 May 2014
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In recent years the old-fashioned log pile has been superceded by the hip and trendy mini beast hotels in school grounds. Whilst these are a lovely form of recycling and repurposing of various materials this post is a plea to all schools to provide create lots of log piles within their grounds too.

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The Pansy Project

18 May 2014
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There is something very poignant about seeing a single flower, such as the image of a red poppy at Flander’s Field and knowing its role in Remembrance Sunday and its story associated with The Great War. Over the years, flowers have become associated with different causes. There is the Snowdrop Appeal which fundraises for units to […]

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101 Things For Kids To Do Outside

10 May 2014
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In this blog post I have the privilege of interviewing Dawn Isaac about her second book, 101 Things For Kids To Do Outside.  I’ve known Dawn virtually via Twitter and enjoy reading her Little Green Fingers blog. I bought Dawn’s book and liked it so much I asked if I could interview her for a […]

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Fairy Gardens and Literacy

4 May 2014
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Recently I visited Westpark  Nursery in Aberdeen, which had been donated a large raised bed – the sort that is traditionally used around towns for floral displays. At first the staff and children wondered how to use it as it seemed too big and too high to be of any real use. Then a spark of […]

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A Crocus Labyrinth

5 March 2014
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When the crocus appears, it’s a positive indication that spring is on its way. Snowdrop is the lead flower in letting us know that winter’s days are numbered. But crocus is the follower that affirms the decision of snowdrop to rear its head above the snow. Snowdrop may kickstart the spring party but it’s the […]

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5 Ways to Re-use your Xmas Tree

26 December 2013
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Would love to know your ideas too…

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A Bird Feeding Garden

12 November 2013
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Not your usual feeding station!

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A Wonderful Wildlife Garden

8 October 2013
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Great ideas from the RSPB

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Best in the Show

6 August 2013
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Outdoor ideas abound from the Turriff Show

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Foraging for Fruit – A Way to Love Gardening

25 July 2013
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Summer time… and the living is easy

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How to Make a Seed Bomb

13 April 2013
Seed Bomb

Making and setting seed bombs is a great way to get kids planting!

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The Art of Plant Study Outside

9 March 2013
Plant Study

Art and science combine outdoors in the study of plants.

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DIY Woolly Welly Warmers

23 January 2013
Welly Warmers

Wellies keep feet dry but not often as warm as we’d like our toes to be!

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Zen Gardens – A Reflection

9 January 2013
Zen Gardens

When creating a dry-landscape garden, spontaneity and experimentation are part of the process.

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Pallets for Re-Purposing and Play

17 November 2012
Pallets repurposed

Pallets are perfect for repurposing into so many things…just a few ideas.

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Check out this greenhouse

23 September 2012
Greenhouse

Sometimes the outdoors is indoors.

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The Forbidden Fun of a Compost Bin

15 September 2012
Compost Bin

There is a high play value in a compost bin!

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Do you have a poisonous plant in your school garden?

4 August 2012
Poisonous Plants

Which are poisonous and which aren’t? Do you know?

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Communities and Gardening

26 June 2012
Barra

An inspirational two days on Barra.

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Shady Solutions

15 December 2011
The Star

Something rarely considered is the need for shade and shelter outside for children.

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Making a pond from a tyre

23 July 2011
Tyre Pond

A simple idea for lazy gardeners!

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Ponds in schools and nurseries

1 June 2011
School Pond

Are ponds allowed in school grounds?

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Composting

10 May 2011
Composting

Last weekend I finally put my compost bin together!

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Planters, containers and raised beds

5 April 2011
Gardening with Children

Advice for gardening with children using raised beds and planters.

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Achnasheen Primary – Making the Changes

28 October 2010
Developing School Grounds

When I moved from Grantown Primary to Achnasheen Primary, I had quite a shock.

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Gardening at Inveraray Primary School

5 September 2010
Inveraray Gardening

Gardening is a key feature and a core part of children’s outdoor experiences at Inveraray.

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Scarecrows

24 June 2010
Scarecrows

RBS Supergrounds Award money used to develop nursery garden.

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Nettle Soup – An Earth Day Recipe (better late than never)

25 April 2010
Nettle Soup

Picking nettles can be fascinating for children.

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Kids in the Garden – Book Review

30 March 2010
The Star

I have seen a lot of children’s gardening books in my time.

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Wee Green Fingers

14 March 2010
Rowan Berries

Plants for school grounds – some ideas.

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Squirrels and Birds

6 November 2009
Bird Feeder

Squirrel proof bird feeders and more.

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