Summer Boredom Buster for Preschoolers – Make a garden in a box

For each letter of the alphabet I share an idea for fun sensory play. My kids have loved helping their Dad in the garden, so I knew that they’d enjoy making their own garden in a box.  It’s a great summer boredom buster too!

summer boredom buster preschoolers

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As I thought about a sensory play idea for letter G, I thought about a few possibilities.

Grapes?  No.

Grass?  Maybe.

Garbage?  Definitely not.

Garden? That’s it!

garden sensory play 1

I got a big plastic tub and filled it with things my kids could use for a pretend garden.

garden sensory tub 2

I learned a lesson that I will pass on to you.  Leave the watering can out or save it until the end. Unless you’re one of those moms who doesn’t mind a big, muddy mess.  My Two dumped the watering can first thing (no surprise!), and wanted me to fill it back up. I knew where this was headed.  Since I was carrying the baby and was not interested in filling up the watering can 100 times so he could turn the garden into a mud puddle, I said no.

My Two threw himself on the ground and had a fit.

After I covered the mud with fresh dirt at my Four’s request, he got to work.  And eventually my Two’s tantrum ended so that he was ready to play too.

sensory tub 3

I showed my Two how to poke holes for the “seeds,” drop them in, and bury them.  Handling the tiny dried beans was a great fine motor exercise.

garden tub 4

My Two put the craft sticks in the garden.  After digging a little more, he was done.  Immediately my Four took out the sticks because they were not marking any rows.  He had his own ideas.

garden sensory tub 4

My Four asked to bring some tape outside.  He attached some price tags he’d saved (yes, he’s a little packrat) to the craft sticks.  At first he couldn’t get the paper to stay and asked me for a longer piece. I fought the urge to just do it for him, practically biting on the words “Here, I can help you.”  And he figured it out himself!

He wrapped the long tape around the tag to the other side of the stick.  (Yes, I realize this covered the writing on the card, but it didn’t bother him.)

garden sensory tub 5

As my Four planted seeds and pushed his row markers into the dirt, he thought of something else. He asked for markers and some more paper.

garden sensory tub 6

I cut some index cards in half and brought out a few markers.  He got to work labeling each card for his garden. Here he’s drawing some strawberries.  Long after I’d gone into the house to make lunch, he was busy creating markers for the garden.

garden sensory tub 12

In fact, just now as I was writing this post he wandered into the kitchen to ask me what other plants are in the garden.  We pulled out the picture dictionary and turned it to “Vegetables.”  He was busy for quite some time!

Here are some other garden sensory tubs your preschoolers might enjoy!

garden sensory tub 8

Check out the worms in this sensory bin from Fantastic Fun and Learning.

garden sensory tub 9

Here’s a beautiful garden sensory tub from Homeschool Creations.

garden sensory tub 10

This bin kept a little girl busy for two hours!  Check it out at Mama Papa Bubba.

garden sensory tub 11

If you’d prefer to make your garden tub without dirt, take a look at this spring garden sensory tub from No Time for Flashcards.

Need more boredom busters for kids? Follow me on Pinterest!

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© 2014, Anna Geiger. All rights reserved.


  1. says

    Your gardening tub looks like so much fun. I really like how you incorporated reading and writing!

    My kiddos love gardening! A couple of years ago my kiddos surprised me by making their own square foot garden with branches from the yard and dirt from our compost. It had plants and everything. Awesome surprise! It’s still their several years later.


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