Every time we go to the Children’s Museum in our city, one of my kid’s favorite areas is the dramatic play area that is a full garden. They can plant and pick flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Over the years, I’ve had a special garden play area set up with supplies that I’ve found at Dollar Tree over time. Aprons, gloves, pots, rocks, fake flowers, shovels and I made seed packets for them to play with.
I wanted to take it a step further and have now turned it into a new center! I’m sharing with you today how to make your own DIY garden for the classroom to use as a center. It is super easy to make and doesn’t cost but a few dollars!
Supplies you’ll need
A cardboard box – I used an empty Girl Scout cookie box since I have a ton laying around right now. It measures 15inches x 8 1/2 inches
1 or 2 pool noodle (depending on how large your box is)
Fake leaves _ I found mine at the local thrift store for a dollar
2 or 3 pieces of brown felt – I used 12in by 18in pieces (depending on how large your box is)
Brown craft paper roll (not a necessity)
To make the DIY garden for the classroom
First, you will want to measure the length of your box. Measure that length on your pool noodle and use a sharp knife to cut through the pool noodle. Continue to cut pieces to the length of your box from the pool noodles until you have enough to fit the width of your box. I used one pool noodle cut into three with a bit left over.
Next, take a piece of your brown felt. Lay the pool noodle on top and cut to size. You do not have to wrap the felt all the way around the pool noodle, it just needs to go around the noodle enough that you can no longer see the noodle when you place them side by side in the box. In doing this, I was able to use just 2 pieces of felt for my project.
Next, use your glue gun to glue the felt around the pool noodle. After you have your noodles wrapped. Place them in your cardboard box so they fit snuggly.
Depending on how tall your box is, you may need to stuff some newspaper under the pool noodles to keep it sturdy in case the kids press down too hard later when playing. At this point, I also chose to wrap my box in plain brown craft paper since it wasn’t a plain brown box.
Next, I cut apart my green foliage and hot glued pieces of it to large craft sticks so they can easily be put in and taken back out of the “soil”.
UPDATE: I was so excited when I walked into the Dollar Spot at Target the other day. I found these small wooden baskets, the perfect size for your garden! I moved over the same 3 pool noodles and they fit perfectly! They also had a bunch of fun felt food, garden tools, gloves, and aprons. Perfect for your center!
Now your garden is ready to go! You could just add this as part of your dramatic play area with fake flowers and maybe some felt fruits and vegetables. But I wanted to turn it into a hands-on learning experience and take it a step further.
I created a garden center bundle to use throughout the year. It comes with everything from matching uppercase strawberries to lowercase baskets, building CVC and sight words with flowers and carrots, to practicing number sense with turnips. Change the centers out as the students progress along the school year.
I hope your students enjoy these hands-on learning activities!
See you next time!