Dawn Isaac has a blog called Little Green Fingers which she describes as “one mother’s attempts to get her kids as addicted to gardening as she is.” She has also written a book called Garden Crafts for Children. Too often children’s projects require more input from the adult than the child, who wanders off halfway through.
Fortunately Dawn’s book is full of suggestions and easy pointers to keep children involved. Perfection is not required. This project has a materials list, but the end result is entirely up to the participants: it can be a five-star Beth Chatto-esque insect hotel (see below) or a chalet-ranch-style-cabana, decorated with choice hieroglyphics.
Images via Cico Books except where noted.
Above: The insect hotel at the Beth Chatto Gardens in Essex is set in an idyllic location, roped off from the general public and near the pond. “This hotel provides food and shelter for a range of insects,” a notice nearby informs us. “We are hoping to attract an upmarket clientele including ladybirds, spiders, beetles, bumblebees, centipedes, and woodlice.” Photograph by Kendra Wilson.
Above: Children can build their own version, with some basic instructions. Required are old bricks, old curved roof tiles and short pieces of wood. Add to this any combination of materials to fill the hotel: corrugated cardboard, bamboo canes, old pots, logs, egg boxes, pine cones, dry leaves, hollow tubes of cardboard or plastic.
A quiet spot is best, on level ground. Put down two rows of bricks, two bricks long and two bricks high, so they are the same width apart as the length of the pieces of wood. Put a curved roof tile between the two rows of bricks to provide a shelter for toads and frogs.
Above: Build up the stories with wood and bricks. On the top layer, add an extra piece of wood at the back. This will make the tiles sit at an angle and allow rain to run off.
Above: Roll up pieces of corrugated cardboard and slide them inside old tubes, also made of cardboard. Fill up the other spaces with hollow stems (bamboo and plastic straws are good). These make winter rooms for small insects. Logs with drilled holes will soon have residents. Add old egg boxes, pine cones and dried leaves.
Above: Place more tiles on top of the final layer to form the roof of the hotel. Don’t forget to make a sign to help wayfarers. For more child-friendly garden projects, Garden Crafts for Children is $17.05 from Amazon.
By the way, grownups can build bee houses too. For some of our favorites, see Barebones Bee Houses in London.