We spend plenty of time thinking about what we’re going to put in our garden pots – and buying swanky new ones from the garden centre. But what about giving your old pots a spring makeover and getting the kids involved too? Mags Bradley shows you how to rediscover the versatility of the humble terracotta flower pot with your pre-schooler or older child.
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Decorate them, grow stuff in them and then eat it… Flower pots offer youngsters a whole experience housed inside a simple pot of clay. Over the next few weeks we’ll be bringing you inspiration about what to plant – both flowers and food. We’ll have some cookery ideas, based around what your youngsters have grown, as well as other things to do with your pots that involves both tiny tots and older children.
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Most of us seem to have acquired some pots in the garden that your small children can have fun discovering with you and cleaning up with soapy water. Your pre-schooler will enjoy seeing how the mud comes off and how the terracotta soaks up the water and looks darker, then pales again when dried by wind and sun. If you don’t have access to any old terracotta pots lying around in a ‘to-do’ pile, or with a has-been plant in, you can buy new ones in DIY stores or garden centres for as little as 49p depending on the size.
You can give the children complete free rein to decorate them, or show them some inspirational paintings of abstract, nature-inspired artwork to get them started and ask them to sketch bits they liked, or draw anything your images made them think about.
Pot painting with pre-schoolers
Older children enjoy this as well, as do adults. Make sure the surface is clean and dry and that your child has old clothing on. You can use exterior emulsion if you happen to have any leftover paint and want the pots to weather well in the garden. Regular poster paints are ideal for younger children and indoor use. Acrylic paint is effective too, but will stain, so be careful when using it.
Large areas of painted colour work well when accented by details added with marker pens, or made to sparkle with glitter. You can always finish off the final creation with a thin coat of PVA glue to act as a stabiliser.
Use the pots to plant flower or herb seeds - more ideas on this will follow soon. Or use the decorated pots as pen containers, toothbrush holders (fill with stones to keep upright and provide drainage) or to store jewellery, hair grips, spare change…
Mosaic your pots (for older children with adult supervision)
1. Make sure the surface of the pot is clean and dry.
2. Prime the surface with watered down PVA glue and leave to dry.
3. Wrap up small amounts of broken tile or crockery pieces in an old tea-towel for safety and smash with a hammer into smaller pieces.
4. It is advisable to also wear protective glasses (in case any small sharp shards escape) and gardening gloves to protect from scratches when handling the pieces.
5. Stick the tiles on with undiluted PVA glue, arranging them like a jigsaw and leave to dry.
6. Once the tiles are well stuck on, mix some regular grout, spread over, wipe off the excess with a damp cloth and leave to dry as directed. You could also try sprinkling glitter into the grooves before the grout dries for an extra twinkle.