How To Build a DIY Fairy Garden in 3 Easy Steps!
How to Build a Fairy Garden
If you want your children to be skilled and creative problem solvers, consider preparing outdoor play spaces for imaginative play! Fantasy play and imaginative role playing, in spaces like fairy gardens, are well established pre-cursers to divergent and original problem solving later in life; skills that are well recognized in highly effective students!
Creating a space where garden fairies can live is a meaningful way to encourage imaginative play because children can creatively develop story elements like characters, settings and conflicts with just a few choice resources. Fairy gardens help make children feel welcome in all garden spaces and take advantage of the magical thinking young children bring to their everyday play.
Here’s how to build a DIY fairy garden in 3 easy steps:
Step 1: Fairy Garden Location
You don’t need much for a fairy garden! Just a small space (or a larger pot) that is easily accessible. This garden area was located in a mostly shady and safe place to play in a back lane. Fairy gardens are common in school gardens, backyard gardens, public gardens and even along hiking paths in enchanted forests!
Step 2: Make Some Fairy Houses for the Garden
We began by creating a story setting that included fairy houses sourced from the local dollar store. Some twigs we found in the woods and some moss from logs were glued onto the mini houses, with magical results! My kids, aged 3 & 6 at the time, also painted a few other houses that we sealed with a clear and waterproof coat of Modge Podge to improve durability and weather resistance.
Feel free to curate your fairy garden with whomever your children are drawn to: gnomes, dragons, or familiar Disney characters might live in this part of your garden! Landscaping features, like a lazy river, with dollar store jewels and stones is easy, and miniature clotheslines and baskets prepare the space for imaginative play.
Consider the delight of discovering magical objects in the garden and place toadstools, mushrooms and fairies amongst your plantings. Oyster shells covered in barnacles gathered from local beaches can add a connection to nature that extends beyond the play space. If you are looking to purchase supplies, Amazon has some great fairy item decor. If you are feeling crafty you can purchase plain peg dolls and wooden mushroom shapes that can be painted to add to your playscape. You can also purchase fairy doors that create imaginary portals to a magical world of play!
Step 3: Fairy Garden Landscaping
Shade tolerant plants like hostas, ferns, hellebores, solomon’s seal and lamb’s ear can be added to create texture and intrigue to many fairy gardens. We’ve used succulents called “hens and chicks” to line the edges of a river bed, for example. Using levels of plantings with baskets and stones adds texture and variety to the play space.
We are seeing our local garden stores put out displays of plantings specifically for the purpose of planting fairy gardens, ask yours for recommendations appropriate for the sunny or shady location you’ve chosen.
The best part about gardening with kids is the patience they learn from observing growth over time. As plantings grow or die off, problem solve ways to change and develop the fairy garden by adding new play materials or plantings.
Play spaces in your backyard or school garden are perfect for creative open-ended play that allow children the freedom to express their imaginations in a way that teaches the brain to be flexible. Once your fairy garden is established, sit back and provide plenty of time and space for imaginative play!
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Here are some more great ideas for gardening with kids! Join me on Pinterest for curated inspiration.