When we were in Hawaii my mom watched the kids for part of the time. My mom is an art teacher and she often does fun creative things with my kids (and me!) This time was no different.
Together they made a fairy garden. Everyone who first saw it on instagram and then in real life commented that they didn’t realize it was so big! It’s not small! It usually sits on our kitchen table but I moved into the living room and it has been just fine here. I thought Norah would grab at it, but she only did once or twice and then was done with it. It was all my mom who did this so I’m just gonna share everything she wrote.
After going through the process with four-six children I learned a lot. Some kids were in it all the way and some came and went. This is also not a one afternoon project unless the adult does a lot of work ahead of time. I recommend at least two afternoons if the kids are going to be involved in as much as they possibly can. We actually worked on it for 1-2 hours at a time over five days.
Here’s the process we used mixed with some things I learned and will do differently next time:
Kids have a hard time with understanding scale, so it’s important to help them understand how small everything needs to be. I would recommend before beginning that you draw a paper pattern and make a kind of map before you actually start to build any of the accessories. Having your plants and setting them on the map so the kids can see how much room they will take will help them see how small things need to be. But I’m pretty sure you will still have to provide guidance.
For an inside fairy garden, build or buy a container about 12 x 18 or 24 ” in diameter for a round one. We used old weathered boards and a piece of plywood for the bottom.
Buy materials: The dollar store was a terrific source of building materials for very little money. Michael’s was the other great source–but more expensive. I bought:
miniature popsicle sticks, match sticks, rocks of various sizes, doweling of various sizes for building fences, tables and chairs, etc. from the dollar store
little one inch wooden cubes and small dowels were at the dollar store. We used them and mini popcicle sticks to make miniature birdhouses and put them on picks (a long dowel) to stick them in the dirt.
reindeer moss (dollar store) works good for making bushes and green ground cover from the dollar store
birdhouses for $2 each from the dollar to make the fairy house out of. They are quite q bit more expensive at Michael’s,
Some dollar stores have miniature flowerpots. I’ve seen them in before, but I wasn’t able to find any and got them at Michael’s in packages of 4 for very little.
Michael’s had wooden flowerpots and clay ones just like the life sized ones.
Sclupey (available at Michaels for $2-3) works great for making things like a miniature birdbath, mailbox, mushrooms, birds, flowers. Lucy (age 8) made all of those things after watching me make one to show her the size and process.
The dollar store has bags of nice little pebbles and larger ones. We used the little ones to make the walkway and larger ones for landscaping rocks. We learned the hard way hot glue does not hold rocks together to make a walkway. You need to use ‘construction glue’ that comes in a tube and requires a gun to dispense. It is waterproof–necessary because your dirt will be wet to keep the plants alive.
Several tropical plants of various shades of green and various textures. We used some cactus as well and left them in the pots we bought them in so that they wouldn’t get as much water as the tropical need. We lined the pot with rocks and it looks like the real life edgings that people use to keep grass away from shrubs growing in their yards.
Sand–the dollar store has a variety of size and color. The walkways can be made of sand instead of a pebbles if you have some landscape fabric to put down first. If you don’t put something down first, the sand will eventually disappear–mixing into the dirt as you water your fairy garden.
Hot glue and glue sticks and quick set white glue.
The dollar store also had a miniature artist canvas and easel. Lucy painted a masterpiece to pretend that the fairy who lives in our fairy garden was artistically inclined.
The dollar store also had small wooden plaque’s that Lucy made a sign that said, “Fairy Garden” on it. I’ve also seen “Fairies welcome, no knomes allowed.”
Collect natural materials: rocks, sticks, pinecones, etc
Plan together. It’s a good idea to look online at lots of other people’s fairy gardens to get ideas. There are hundreds of them to see online. Google fairy gardens or fairyhouses. (I made a powerpoint slide show with over 150 pictures I got off the internet to give my students ideas when I do it with them for art.) Make a paper map the same size as your container, set the plants on where they will go and draw on what you will include: walkways, plants, fairy house, well, fences, swing, etc. –all the big stuff. Then plan what accessories you want to include–already mentioned previously. (Oliver age 2 loved painting the under coat of the fairy house, Eli loved helping with building the pebble walkway, the swing, fences. Lucy (age 8 and friends from the neighborhood close to her age) enjoyed making picket fences.
Alden (age 11) nailed the box together with a little guidance. Everything was cut to the right size and I just showed him how it went together.
Line the inside of the fairy garden with heavy plastic (we used an old shower curtain) and hot glued it to the container. If you have a water proof container, you won’t have to do this.
Build all your accessories and set them in place on the map.
Fill the container with good quality potting soil and water. (We got carried away with water and made a big mess.
Plant up your fairy garden. Then add all your accessories and place somewhere in your home where the kids can enjoy moving the accessories around and ‘pretending’ what the fairies have been doing while no one was watching. LOTS OF FUN!!!! And they look great!!
Here are some close ups of the finished garden.
If you want your fairy garden to be outside you will have to use waterproof glue–not hot glue guns. The hot glue won’t hold up when the rain falls on your fairy garden.
Pretty amazing, right?!
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