Category Archives: Kid Stuff

Nature activities and games for kids and everyone!

Painted Garden Sticks

Painted Sticks

Bamboo Garden Stick

Why buy garden stakes when you can make your own?  I saw this idea on Pinterest and decided to give it a try for a kids class at the nursery.  I collected sticks from a beautiful Dawn Redwood tree that I had recently pruned.  I also received some great black bamboo from a friend.  The bamboo sticks were ready to go, but the redwood sticks were covered in rough bark which isn’t good for painting.  The bark came off easily from the living stems, but was really stuck to the dead wood.  This we scraped off with a pair of pruners. The  dawn redwood tree produced the lovely smooth light colored wood seen on the right of the stick photo below.

After finding just the right stick, we chose from an assortment of acrylic paints and got creative.  Some kids went for a design, others just wanted to blob it all on.  The darker the sticks, the more paint was needed for cover.  The paint dried quickly and then we added a few little extras for fun.  Ribbons, bells, tiny straw hats (we put these over the top of the sticks when the sun came out!) and flowers and herbs.  With all the decorations we suddenly felt like we were in a parade and had to march around the nursery for a while ringing our bells and looking for bees. Painting sticks is an enjoyable activity and everyone should march around with a painted stick once in a while, it’s good for the soul.  After showing them off, the sticks can go right into the garden, to hold up a purple coneflower or just to brighten up a green leafy space.  Happy painting!

Halloween Tree

Which is the spookiest plant in the neighborhood?  The Contorted Filbert, of course!  Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’  is a twisty and fascinating plant.  It’s also referred to as Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick.  A quick Google search for Harry Lauder reveals that he was a famous international Scottish entertainer  and often performed with a twisted walking stick.  A few branches from this amazing tree will provide a great Halloween Craft for kids.  At our activity at the nursery we put ghosts, spiders and bats for decorations, but it would also be spooky with mini pumpkins or Halloween lights.  Trick or treat? I think it’s definitely a treat!  Happy Halloween!

The Famous Walking Stick

Good Luck Mothers “Gitten ’em Brung Up”

“Ma adhered to a  more primitive philosophy, holding that a child will educate itself and that a parent’s job is to simply “git ’em brung up.

The River Why by David James Duncan

Mothers Love Flowers!

Mothers Day 2012

Recycled Kids Garden

Take those leftover cans and turn them into a garden!  For this activity all that is needed is a can, a little paint, a few vegetable starts and some creativity.  For plant markers we made birch bark flags and wrote the names on them with a permanent marker.  Add sun, water and soil and little gardeners can grow their own food!

Vegetables Garden in a Can

Birch Bark Plant Marker






























































An optimist is the human personification of spring. ~ Susan J. Bissonette

How to Plant a Tree

When rains blow, roots grow.  The fall season is a good time to plant in the Pacific Northwest.  When a tree is entering dormancy and rains provide sufficient moisture, conditions are right for planting.  Transplanting in the middle of the summer is difficult because the recently disturbed roots will have a bigger job absorbing enough water and nutrients for all the leaves, as well as the rest of the plant.  Following are some simple steps showing how to put a tree in the ground.  This is a star magnolia that our kid’s class planted at the nursery last April on Earth Day.

1.  Dig a hole.  Make it as deep as the container the plant came in, but extra wide for root growth.


2.  Mix in compost.  Organic amendments will enrich the soil and help retain water and air around the root ball.

Adding compost

3.  Remove plant from container and loosen roots.  Cut off or uncurl any that are starting to circle the trunk (girdling) and break up any thick mats.

Loosen root ball

4.  Place the plant in the ground at the same level it was growing in the container.  Don’t cover the base of the trunk with soil, this could lead to rot.  Orient the tree in the best position for the site and make sure it’s upright.

Place in hole

5.  Press soil around root ball and water well.

Water well

6.  Add a three to four inch layer of mulch to help soil retain moisture, suppress weeds and protect from cold in the winter.  Keep the mulch a few inches away from base of the trunk.  Mulch can be compost, bark, shredded leaves, straw, etc…

Now that the tree is in the ground, don’t forget it needs consistent moisture the first year while it’s getting established.  Too much or too little water will cause problems. Fertilize in the spring when new growth begins and continue to add mulch each year.

Add mulch

Kid Stuff—Butterfly Windsocks and Plants

This craft involves cutting, gluing and designing and can leave a big mess, but it’s  lots of fun!  Kids can show their creativity as they pick colors and patterns for their butterflies.  We talked about why some butterflies have big spots on their wings (to fool potential predators that they have large eyes) and how butterflies grow (from caterpillar to flying insect).   I used the directions at with a few changes (we didn’t use the patterns, just figured it out from the picture).  After the craft we talked about what type of flowers attract butterflies and went on a flower hunt to spot them.  Flowers with multiple florets and abundant nectar are good choices.  Also it’s important to have plants that flower in mid to late summer when butterflies are most active.  Here is the list of butterfly plants from Sunset Western Garden Book:
Agapanthus–Lily of the Nile
Armeria—Thrift, Sea Pink
Asclepias—Butterfly Weed
Shasta Daisy
Echinops—Globe Thistle
Eryngium—Sea Holly
Gaillardia—Blanket Flower
Lathyrus—Sweet Pea
Lobularia—Sweet Alyssum
Monarda—Bee Balm
Philadelphus—Mock Orange

Butterfly Bush