Miniature Potted Garden Project
Kids love playing in the dirt and working with live plants! So, if you are looking for an outdoor project for a group of kids, that all of the kids will love, then look no further. This project is fun for kids of all ages.
Kids 4 years and younger will need closer teen/adult supervision. A good Rule of Thumb to keep the project rolling is to have 1 adult, or teen helper, for every 4 kids. 8 years old and up will be able to work pretty independently once you go over the instructions. Having a sample on-hand really helps.
The first thing to remember when gathering, and selecting the supplies for this project, is that you are trying to create the illusion of a miniature garden. Every item in your garden will be a miniature of a real, life-sized object. And, the items you choose should be proportionate in size to each other, meaning when they are placed next to each other the scene looks realistic. For example, if you use a miniature house in your miniature garden, the plants you select to place in your garden should look like bushes, and trees around your house.
Here is an example of a finished project, where the sizes of the items used make the scene look realistic. This project was done by my 5-year-old great-niece, with just a little help from my niece. They brought their own container, the bench, hanging lantern and pond to our family event, and it looks so cute!
Let’s Get Started!
1) One Potting Container per Crafter
*Keepsake Crafter Tip* The best containers for this project are at least 12 inches in diameter, so you have room to create a miniature scene. The depth of the container doesn’t matter as much, but make sure it’s at least 4” deep.
*Keepsake Crafter Tip* I like working with plastic containers with kids, because they are almost impossible to break. You can purchase inexpensive, large plastic bowls, in different sizes, shapes and colors at a local store.
*Keepsake Crafter Tip* Make sure your container has drain holes at the bottom. Potted plants are much easier to grow, and much happier, when they have adequate drainage. When your container doesn’t have drain holes, it’s easy to over-water, leaving your plant sitting in a puddle of water, which can cause molding at the roots, and kill your plant. If you’re plastic container doesn’t have drain-holes, you can easily punch drain holes in the bottom of each with an ice pick (if you have one), or something that will leave holes large enough for water to drain through when watered.
2) Potting Soil, and something to scoop the soil from the bag to the Potting Containers (a plastic cup works well) – you will need enough Potting Soil to fill each of your containers ¾ full of soil
*Keepsake Crafter Tip* I always use a goo1! d quality potting soil, that has some plant food infused into it. I prefer Miracle Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix. Then I purchase a cheaper potting soil, and mix the 2 with equal parts of each, into a bucket. That way the good potting soil goes farther, each pot still gets a shot of plant food, and I save money.
3) A Variety of miniature plants. Succulents are great plants for this project, as well as grasses, and outdoor flowering plants with small flowers.
*Keepsake Crafter Tip* When selecting your plants, remember this is a miniature garden, so select plants that have small leaves and/or flowers.
*Keepsake Crafter Tip* Remember to use either all plants that love direct sun, or all plants that love the shade. If you try to combine the two, into one container, the finished project won’t last as long when the crafter brings it home. Because, no matter where they place it, one type of plant in the container won’t be happy. If you put a plant that likes shade into direct sun, it will die quickly on a hot day. If that happens, you can carefully remove the dead plant and replace it with another plant.
4) A variety of outdoor decorations that can be used to create the illusion of a miniature garden, like small garden fairies, gnomes, stones, tiles, marbles, porcelain figurines, miniature furniture, etc.
*Keepsake Crafter Tip* Before purchasing any supplies, look around your house for supplies. Look for items that can withstand the outdoor weather, and won’t be ruined by getting wet, or sitting in direct sunlight. Porcelain statues are great in the outdoors! They don’t lose their color in direct sunlight…..ever….and you can find so many cute varieties to fit any theme.
*Keepsake Crafter Tip* After gathering all of the supplies you have on-hand, if you still need more variety, go to a local dollar and/or thrift store in your area to search for supplies. You just never know what you may find. Lastly, if you still need specific supplies, there are a wide variety available on-line, or at a local craft supply store.
*Keepsake Crafter Tip* I like to purchase small bird houses for this project at a local craft store for the kids to use to simulate miniature houses for their gardens, if they chose to. This make for a great Arrival Activity! As the guests arrive to your event lead them to the area you have all set up with the miniature houses, paints and paint brushes. Give them an apron to wear to keep their clothes paint-free and let them get busy painting & decorating their house. This gives the houses is plenty of time to dry before starting the Miniature Garden Activity.
5) A crafting table large enough for all of your guests to have an area to work
*Keepsake Crafter Tip* A 6’ table is large enough for 4 – 6 crafters, and an 8’ table is large enough for 6 – 8 crafters.
6) A garden hose nearby, or watering container to water the finished project
At least 2 weeks before the event:
- Decide the perfect place to set up for this project at the event location. There is dirt involved, so outside is the best location. If you must set-up indoors make sure to bring supplies to protect the work space, like plastic table covers, and adequate floor protection, depending on the floor surface.
- Start gathering all of the supplies for the project
- Create a sample Miniature Garden, using the supplies at hand. This is important for 3 reasons: 1) You know you have everything you need to complete the project 2) You have a clear idea on how to make the project, so you can answer questions from your guests, and 3) The crafters have an example of something they can create.
- Once you have all of your supplies, place them into a bag or box, so it is ready to carry to the event, or to be placed in the work area on event day.
*Keepsake Crafter Tip* Always have enough extra supplies on-hand for any unexpected guest. This happens a lot, and it’s better to have extra supplies, than not enough. I always have enough for 2 extra crafters…..just in case!
The day of the event:
- Set up your table/s, and lay out all of your supplies. You want the crafters to be able see what is available for to them to use, and be able to pick out what they want to use.
- If you won’t be setting up the work area until the event is underway, then bring all of your supplies to the work area you selected for the project. Place them nearby in an area they won’t be tampered with, so you can easily grab everything and set up when the time comes
- It’s best to set up a separate area where you will be initially adding the potting soil to the containers. Bring all of your potting soil to this area, your bucket/mixing container, soil scooping tool, and the potting containers.
- Place the sample Miniature Garden you created in a place that all of the crafters can easily see it.
- You are ready to go!
*Keepsake Crafter Tip* If you have more than 6 crafters coming to the event, fill a few containers with Potting Soil ahead of time, and set them aside, to save time at your event
1) When you’re ready to start your project, gather the group of crafters around for some quick instructions. Have them look at your sample Miniature Garden. Show them all of the supplies, and give them some ideas on how they can use them. If there are any supplies that are limited, let them know how many of each they are allowed to use. You want to make sure that there are enough of the limited items for each of the crafters to have an equal amount. Trust me, kids keep track of who has something they don’t have.
2) Go over the plant selection. If you have plants that like lots of sun, and some that like mostly shade, point those plants out to the kids. It would be great to separate the plants that like sun on one side, and the ones that prefer shade grouped on the other side. Tell them to select the plants depending on where they plan on putting their creation when they get home. This is a great learning moment for the inexperienced gardeners in your group. You’d be surprised at how many people have no idea of how to care for plants.
*Keepsake Crafter Tip* Here is a link to a page I created with Printable Instructions on “How to Care for Your Plants”. Go over this information with your crafters. Print enough copies to send one home with each person.
3) Fill a Potting Container ¾ full of Potting Soil, and hand one out to each crafter in your group
4) Instruct the crafters to think about how they want to lay out their project. They will need to think about where they will be placing their miniature house, if they are using one, and any other non-plant items they want to use, and leave space for these items.
5) The plants are the first thing to add to the Miniature Garden, one at a time. Take a container that already has potting soil in it, and show the crafters how to dig a small hole where they want to place their first plant.
*Keepsake Crafter Tip* You will want to place the roots of the plant deep enough so the bottom of the plant is level to the top of the dirt.
For this example, I started with a grass section in the middle of my Miniature Garden:
6) Then they can start filling in more plants, one at a time. Dig a small hole for the plant selected. Place the plant in the hole. If the hole still isn’t deep enough, pull the plant back out and dig a little deeper hole, and replace the plant. Keep doing this until the bottom of the plant is level with the top of the dirt.
7) Once the plant is where they want it, have them place some potting soil around the base of the plant and press the soil down again gently around the plant. Continue to add soil until the plant is securely in place and able to stand on it’s own when they let go of it. Repeat this process until they have all of their plants in place.
8) Now it’s time for them to Create their Miniature Garden! First, place the larger items they’ve selected into their pot (for example, a miniature house). This way they know exactly which areas to leave open. Then remove the large items and start adding rocks, tiles, whatever the crafter wants, to create their Miniature Garden
The only thing left to do for this project is place the house in the space that was left for it. This cool ceramic house was the perfect finishing touch:
Print a copy of this page for each of your crafter’s to take home with them:
Here are some more examples of Miniature Gardens being created by little hands:
*Keepsake Crafter Tip* Remember, kids are individuals, and they each have their own style of creativity, so don’t be surprised when some of the crafters come up with a completely different finished craft than the sample you’ve created. And that is fine, in fact it’s encouraged! Let them create what is in their imagination, or it won’t mean as much to them. There are no mistakes in crafting!
I hope you have a great time Creating this Keepsake Garden Craft! And teaching children about how much fun it is to play in the dirt! And most of all, I hope this project will instill a life-long love of plants into just one person, then this tutorial has all been worth the time, effort and love put into it