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How does your garden grow?

Create a model garden home for a creature, then host your own garden show.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Spoons
  • A4 paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • Natural materials (for example, leaves, twigs, feathers)
  • Seeds
  • Soil
  • Pebbles
  • Moss
  • Small toys
  • Certificates
  • Yoghurt pots

Before you begin

  • You could ask everyone to collect some of the materials (for example, tubs and yoghurt pots) at home.
  • Choose seeds that are fast growing (such as cress or salad leaves) or vegetable tops that grow in shallow soil (such as carrots and parsnips).
  • Decide who will judge the garden show and invite them with plenty of notice. It could be someone the group knows, or a local community member.
  • Put all of the materials in one place (for example, on a big table) so everyone can see them easily.

Come up with ideas

  1. Everyone should close their eyes and imagine a beautiful garden, park, or field. They should imagine all of the animals that live there – they could think about mice, frogs, bees and birds.
  1. Everyone should think about what the different animals need. For examples, bees need flowers to feed from and frogs need water to swim in, while birds need trees or hedges to nest in.
  2. Everyone should get into pairs. Each pair should decide what animal they’ll make a garden for. They should talk about what sorts of things the animal they’ve chosen needs.
  1. Each pair should think about what they could use to make the things their garden needs. The bottom of a yogurt pot would make a great pond, for example, while a plastic bag could be water and small twigs could be trees.

Design and make

  1. The person leading the activity should give each pair a garden base (for example, an ice cream tub, foil tray, or the lid of a biscuit tin). They should also give them some paper and a pen or pencil.
  2. Each pair should draw around the bottom of their garden base. They should design their garden in this outline, so they know how everything will fit in the garden. Each pair should leave space to plant seeds in soil.
  3. Once they’ve finished their design, each pair should make a list of the materials they’ll need to make their garden. It may help if people label their designs to show what they’ll use to make each bit, then write a separate list.
  4. Everyone should visit the materials, and take what they need to make their robot.
  1. Each pair should start by spooning damp soil or compost onto their base and pressing it down.
  2. Once each pair has finished adding the things in their design, they should sprinkle seeds on the damp soil.

Host a garden show

You may want to judge the garden homes straight away, or you may want to wait a little while until the seeds have sprouted. Pairs could also make signs to tell the judges what animal their garden was designed for.

  1. Everyone should put their finished gardens on a table ready for judging.
  2. The person leading the activity should introduce the person they’ve chosen to judge the gardens.
  3. The judge should look at all of the gardens. They may want to use some categories to help them judge.
  4. The person leading the game should help the judge award any certificates (or stickers or rosettes). It would be nice to give everyone a well done certificate (and even the badge they’ve earned).
  5. Everyone should visit each other’s gardens, and take it in turns to explain what they’ve made to everyone else.


This activity needed everyone to be a team player. What happened when people worked with their partner? People may say things like listening to each other, combining both people’s great ideas, and finding compromises (although they might not use that word!). If people say things like arguing, not listening to each other, or struggling to combine ideas, they could think about what they’d do differently next time to make it easier to work together.

This activity was also a chance to develop skills. Everyone should sit and look at their gardens. What did everyone enjoy most about this activity? Lots of people spend their lives designing and making things. Everyone should try to name some people who design and make things. People’s answers may include builders, gardeners, or artists. When they made their gardens, people did the same things that those professionals do, from designing and gathering materials to presenting the finished thing to a judge. This takes lots of skills, including doing your open thing and planning ahead. It can be tricky to practice these skills, so well done to everyone who gave them a go and created a garden to be proud of.


Rubbish and recycling

All items should be clean and suitable for this activity.

Gardening and nature

Everyone must wash their hands after the activity has finished. Wear gloves if needed. Explain how to safely use equipment and set clear boundaries so everyone knows what’s allowed.

All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.