How to Make Welly Plant Pots

I am a GREAT fan of gardening with kids and every year the kids and I make an effort to at least grow SOMETHING. Usually we have a go at growing sunflowers, tomatoes, beans and potatoes. We also have TONS of strawberries in the garden (they grow like weeds), some raspberries, a little apple tree and and a blueberry bush. We don’t get MUCH food from the garden, but we get enough to make it fun and interesting for the kids. I think it is very important for kids to understand where food comes from and what effort goes into growing it! We are by no means expert gardners, but like all activities with kids, it isn’t about being an expert, but about having a go and hopefully having fun! Last year the school nursery created this Welly Planter Wall.. and I thought it would be nice to share with you how to make welly plant pots! Welly planters are such a fun way to garden with kids!!!How to make welly plant pots! It is easy and fun and great way to upcycle!

We have a whole post about a recycled container garden over on Red Ted Art and 5 Thrifty Garden Ideas here. Like with all these things, gardening with kids should NOT be expensive, yet it is easy to get carried away and spend a LOT OF MONEY! Don’t… keep your pennies for buying seeds and keep the rest as simple as possible! If you do get tempted.. you could always get a little garden set like this for your child’s birthday or as a “no chocolate” Easter gift:

no candy easter gifts - kids garden tool set

Kids Garden Tool Set! This is so cute and simple.  US Readersfollow / UK Readers (similar) (affiliate links)

Now onto our welly planters and the best way to make them!

How to make welly plant pots – you will need 

old wellies (preferably ones you can no longer pass on!)

stones

compost

a drill of sorts

and of course seeds or small plants

How to make welly plant pots:

Like with all recycled containers that you use as plant pots, you will need to create a “drainage” system. You don’t want water logged plants. So..

  1. Begin by drilling a few holes on the bottom of your welly. Of course adults should do this.
  2. then fill with some stones or broken pot pieces. Take care NOT to clog up the holes
  3. Fill with compost.
  4. Plant your seeds.

Your wellies can either be free standing or hung up!

No Candy Easter Basket Ideas

I don’t know about you, but when we had “baby’s first Easter”, I was horrified at the amount of chocolate we received on behalf of the BABY! As my kids got older, it only got worse. In the earlier years – when they were toddlers and preschoolers,  I tried to avoid too much candy and too much chocolate and ensure they received some quality little gifts instead. It made for a far less unhealthy Easter Sunday! I thought I would put together a list of these no candy Easter basket ideas and hopefully these will help you too! You will see that they are a mixture of practical Easter gifts (so as not to “spoil them”), durable and educational Easter gifts (so they get something out of if it) and little “party bag” type Easter gifts – gifts to have fun with, “use up” and not to clutter up your house (man, how easily your house gets cluttered!!!).

When it comes to birthdays and Christmas, “they say” give them

  • something to wear
  • something they need
  • something to want
  • something to read

And I think you can apply this to Easter (on a much smaller scale of course). So here.. here we go No Candy Easter Basket Ideas!No Candy Easter Basket Gift Ideas for Toddlers and Preschoolers. Avoid too much Chocolate at Easter and take a peak at these wonderful ideas from Carrot bubble wands to squeaky egg shakers. Lots of fun quality ideas.

Affiliate links added for convenience!

No Candy Easter Basket Ideas

no candy easter basket ideas

Crayon Rocks – We have a set of these and they are so WONDERFULLY Tactile and fabulous to do art with. Make super little gifts too. (US readers / UK readers)

chick drinking cup

Chick Trainer Cup (There is a cute Bunny Version too!) US Only

no candy easter bucket ideas

Carrot and Chick Bubbles – US ONLY – but similar “Easter Egg Bubbles” for UK Readers!

alternative Easter gifts

BEST TODDLER TOY WE HAVE HAD. We were given a (similar) set a few years back.. and though simple, my kids delighted at it and have played with it for YEARS. Even now, they won’t let me “pass it on to friends” yet, as they enjoy playing with it in their toy kitchen and at pretend picnics! US readers / UK readers 

no candy easter gifts for toddlers - egg shaker toys

Wonderful Egg Shaker Toys made from wood! Adore the designs that these come in (especially the Ladybird!!) US Readers (4 or 10 pack)UK Readers (four in pack) 

shakers

Shaker Toys for babies and toddlers – what an ADORABLE new baby gift – these are textured, brightly coloured and make 3 different sounds. WONDERFUL US readers US readersUK readers

no candy easter baskets for toddlers

We are GREAT fans of Jellycat Bunnies and confess to own quite a few in our house (at least 6!!!!). I particularly like the “small ones” – they are so cute and perfect for taking everywhere… and come in all colours and designs. US Readers, for UK Readers the MEDIUM bunny is better priced!

no candy gifts for easter - easter bunny bib

Adorable Easter Bunny Bib! US readers / UK readers (similar)

no candy easter gifts - kids garden tool set

Kids Garden Tool Set! This is so cute and simple. Get kids interested in the garden and growing things! US Readers / UK Readers (similar)

no candy easter gifts (2)

Get a Kids Seed Start Kit to go with it. This Bunny Garden is ADORABLE!! US Readers Only

no candy easter gift ideas

Grow your own Nasturtium in this cute Zinc Watering Can (other flowers available too!) US readers / UK readers

no candy easter ideas

STACKING DUCKS – a great bath toy – lots of ways to play and learn: Pour, stack and float and parents can use it as a rinse cup too! Lovely!! US readers / UK readers

easter books for kids

Where are Baby’s Easter Eggs – a bright and jolly lift the flap book. With simple and delightful illustrations US readers / UK readers

easter books

That’s not my bunny – when my kids were growing up we **adored** the “That’s not my…” series. We had a number of them and this little bunny version is simply PERFECT for Easter. It has many textured pages with a repetitive text that will appeal to toddlers and preschoolers. US readers/ UK readers

(Or That is Not My Lamb – US readers/ UK readers)no Candy Easter Basket ideasHatch your own characters – Hatching Eggs – there is a selection of 6 different characters that “hatch over time” (yes, I get the fatal flaw, that bunnies down come from Eggs.. BUT my kids LOVE this sort of toy and it is a great NO CANDY Easter Basket alternative). US readers / UK readers

no candy easter basket ideas -dinosaurs

Hatching Dinosaur Egg – this is such a fun “experiment” for kids. Love it. US Readers (comes in packs of 12) UK readers (individual)

Here are some ideas of GIFTS YOU CAN MAKE for your Easter Baskets:

  1. Easy Bean Bag Juggling Chooks
  2. Easy Dinosaur Soap Eggs
  3. Easy Stone Ducks Play Set

Save the Stag Beetle

Today, we were lucky enough to find a female Stag Beetle in our garden! Living in a very Urban environment, with a small, nature unfriendly garden, this was a very exciting discovery for us. The kids at first thought it was a Stink Beetle, which do have some similarities, but generally are much much smaller. So it was great for us to look at it and discuss.. as well as discuss that the Stag Beetle is endangered here in the UK and that we must do everything to protect it. (See our video below, too cute!).

Female Stag Beetle - exploring nature and wildlife with kids

Mike Strick recently posted THIS on Facebook and I shared it with my children and my friends (please visit this link and share with your friends and family):

Every year in early summer, the stag beetles emerge to find mates. They have spent the first five to seven years of their life underground as larvae and now have just a few short weeks to live as adults.

Every year I’m shocked by how many people fail to recognise these icons of British wildlife, and am saddened by how many beetles end their lives crushed underfoot. Stag beetles have been around virtually unchanged for millions of years, and are not equipped to survive in an urban environment. Their numbers have declined drastically over the past few decades and the species is seriously endangered.

If you see one on a pavement, please move it out of harm’s way. Despite being large (the male can be up to three inches long), they are placid and harmless provided you don’t stick a finger between the male’s large ‘antlers’, which can inflict quite a strong pinch. Pick them up gently with finger and thumb on either side of the thorax (the middle part of the body, behind the head) and move them into a garden or similar.

Please keep an eye open for them. In flight in the early evening they are phenomenal, flying in an upright and rather ungainly style, making a noise like a small fighter plane. They tend to make a pretty uncontrolled landing, often ending up on pavements, which is where you’re most likely to see them and where they need your help to get to safety. The recent high winds are probably giving them trouble, meaning that they could end up in particularly tricky situations.

If you have children, it would be a big help if you could make sure they know about stag beetles too. Kids probably come across them more frequently than their parents. If they know what they are and what to do, the beetles are more likely to survive the encounter!

These are spectacular animals. We really have nothing else like them. It would be a shame if we lost them forever.

And then… we were lucky enough to discover……

Growing Beans – Science at Home

We have been very busy here at Life At The Zoo.. but not always had the time to share our activities – such as this Growing Beans activity. We have lots of photos to share and will hopefully do so over the coming days and weeks. We have been particularly busy with Gardening with Kids, and exploring “Growing” Science activities. Today’s activity, has a little twist on the simple, easy and fun “Growing Beans” experiment.

Bean Growing - Science fo Kids

A wonderful image showing the classic “Bean Growing” observations – you can see the roots forming and the shoot and leaves going up “stretching” towards the light.

We decided to watch beans grow… but we also decided to see what happens if you keep one bean in darkness and one in the light. Would one grow quicker than the other? Would one grow BETTER than the other? Let’s see….

Bean Growing with kids1) Use a glass  or a jar of a clear plastic cup for your growing beans experiment.

2) Line it with kitchen towel paper or cotton wool buds. Then tuck your bean (it can be any bean – a broad bean or a runner bean – between the glass and the tissue.  We actually prepped 6 beans like this “just in case”.

3) Squirt with plenty of water. You want the tissue to wet, but you don’t want the bean to swimming in water – in case it gets mouldy.

4) We placed on glass into a “cardboard box” to darken it and to see what would happen.

Now wait. And make sure the towel stays moist!!!

Growing Bean Experiment – Results

After 2-3 days our beans started to grow. Interestingly… not all beans “hatched” at the same time. In fact some took well over a week. BUT, ONE of the beans in the dark, and ONE NOT in the dark started sprouting at the same time.

This tells us, that the light has little to do with it. The bean itself contains enough energy for it to start growing – the growth is stimulated by the wet and the temperature around the bean – telling the bean it is time to grow.

We continued to keep one been in darkness and one in light. Look at the difference:

Bean Growing Experiment - Science for Kids

 

I would say that the difference is minimal. Yes, the bean grown in the light has a few more leaves. But then the bean on the left grew better than some of our other “test beans” that DID get light. I would not say that the growth or colour difference is significant enough to say, that light is necessary for the bean to grow well at this stage.

All the bean needs is water, a warm environment and the energy stored within.

You could argue that “this makes sense”. As the bean buried in the earth, doesn’t get light either. It is only once it breaks through the surface, that it starts to stretch and reach out towards the light.

After this, we planted all the beans out in the garden 3-4 weeks later they are quite tall already and have started to bloom. We look forward to the broad beans beginning to from!

Your little scientist may also enjoy these DIY Catapults!

 

 

Get your kids growing with the widest range of seeds

Nature (Carrot)

There are all sorts of great ways to involve children in gardening. One of the best is to get them to grow plants from seed. Children enjoy getting their hands dirty, and the extra labour is useful for your own horticultural efforts. So try some seeds for kids, from a reputable retailer like Seeds By Post.

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First of all, choose a species that they will be excited to plant. Sunflowers are always a favourite as children are obsessed with their own height, and they like the idea of the big flower heads towering over them. A little friendly competition between schoolmates and neighbours also keeps them interested. Unwins Giant Sunflower is great for this. It can grow four metres high, which is larger than some bungalows.

What’s more, do your kids have trouble eating vegetables? They won’t if they grow their own. Anything a child grows becomes something cherished and prized for them. Better yet, home grown veggies always taste better. Among Thompson and Morgan’s seeds for kids range, you’ll find pumpkins, tomatoes, radishes, runner beans, carrots and more. When they water the plants every day, you can build their anticipation of the great flavour the food will make. The seed stock is high quality too, which helps to stop kids getting their hopes dashed. For faster results, you can also grow cress in a few days.

Those with a sweet tooth will love ‘Tomato Candy Tots’. This super sweet variety produces lots of delicious fruits, which are a healthier alternative to sugary snacks. Then there’s Popcorn Fiesta. When grown, these seeds for kids turn into kernals that make great popcorn, and they come in multiple colours from fire engine red to buttery yellow. Moreover if you have boys, they’ll love growing chillies too. Try ‘Apache Chilli’. It’s a hardy variety that makes lots of little fruits, and being fiery hot, it’ll win them a great deal of kudos in the playground.

 

Of course, children also love bugs. You can bring more insects into your garden with the ‘Attract Butterflies Collection Pack’. The plants look great, and the children can spot the different butterflies during the summer season. You might even find chrysalides. Another way to get kids into growing flowers is to try Cosmos Atrosanguineus. This is the famed ‘Chocolate Cosmos’ which has reddish brown petals, and better yet, smells strongly of chocolate milkshake!