Running out of ideas to keep children occupied during lockdown? Make the most of the good weather and get them in the garden…
THINGS TO DO WITH BAMBOO…
Bamboo canes (or any other wooden sticks) are versatile resources for gardeners and children alike. At this time of year many are preparing supports and netting for climbing beans and peas but there’s no reason that these can’t be fun and creative, as well as practical…
The easiest and most common structure for children to make is probably a bean teepee. Find out how here or here. Climbing runner or french beans, sweet peas or other annual climbers such as nasturtiums will cover the structure suitably. Garden string can be used to create horizontal supports for the plants to climb. Don’t forget to leave a ‘doorway’ to get inside the den!
3D SHAPES – PYRAMIDS & PRISMS
To give children more of a challenge and/or to add a mathematical element, why not try making 3D shapes with the canes/sticks? An easy place to start would be with PYRAMIDS, as the canes can just be pushed into the ground at the appropriate place and secured at the top (apex) with string, tape or a cable tie …
A triangular-based pyramid (tetrahedron) will use just 3 canes…
A square-based pyramid will use 4 canes…
A pentagonal-based pyramid will use 5 canes… Hexagonal-based will use 6 canes, etc.
If space and/or number of canes are an issue the pyramids don’t have to be permanent. Why not start using the smallest amount of canes to create one pyramid, then dismantle it and make a different one? Get your child to write a big name label of the shape and take a photo of them standing inside to help them remember what it’s called. If they’re keen, help them to recall the mathematical language they will be learning/have learnt in KS1 and KS2 at school and make big labels for the different parts of the 3D shapes – the faces, edges and vertices (corners). Keep the labels to use on other shapes you make, or to use another day for extra practice. Younger children (or those still getting to grips with 3D shape) can be helped to identify the 2D shapes such as triangles and squares that they can see. (Using the canes to make straight-sided 2D shapes on the ground is a whole new and worthwhile activity in itself…)
Ready for another challenge? Then try making a PRISM next!
A triangular prism is easiest to start (a classic ‘tent’ shape – also often used to grow beans)…you’ll need just 5 canes/sticks if you’re pushing them into the soil (otherwise you’ll need 9). Can your child identify any of the faces, edges and vertices (corners)?
Can you make a different prism?
Can you make more than one shape and join them together somehow to make a new shape?
The physical aspect of making shapes is a very powerful way of learning for children (and adults!) The fact that they’re outdoors, watching the forms develop before their eyes and that they can walk inside 3D forms helps them explore, understand and learn at a more profound level. Reinforce learning by looking for objects around the home and garden the same shape as the ones you’ve made together.
If you have a printer, download and print ‘nets’ for children to cut out and construct their own 3D shapes. (They’ll also need scissors, card/paper and glue.) The SEN teacher site has a selection of free downloadable nets you can use – just click on the blue/green tabs to select the model (3D shape), width of line, quality and how easily identifiable you’d like the ‘flaps’ to appear (these can be confusing for younger children as they’re the parts that are glued to hold the shape together.) Then just print, cut out, fold the edges and stick one flap at a time. (Adult assistance may be required.) You can even print nets using different patterns and textures, image libraries or adding your own photos!
If you have a larger space to use, why not create your own mini bean castle? Mark out a large square on the ground and create a narrow pyramid/teepee in each corner. These are your castle ‘turrets’. Next create your castle ‘walls’ by securing 4 bamboo canes between the apex of each ‘turret’. Using string or pea and bean netting to give support, you can now plant climbing beans or peas around three of your walls. Watch them grow and let them create a shady play den for hot summer days, a perfect setting for fantasy play…and lots of Jack and the Beanstalk stories!
MINI WOVEN FENCE/ENCLOSURE
Arrange a series of bamboo canes in the ground in an upright position and use them as a loom to weave fabric scraps, string, ribbon, rope, flexible twigs, climbing plant prunings, strips of old plastic bags etc. Investigate possibilities – how does it change if you place the canes closer together or further apart?
This could be an ongoing activity that children add to whenever they feel like it/find a new suitable material, or it could be completed and serve as a net for mini ball games, walls of a house for dolls or teddies or…use large canes and turn yourselves into butterflies!
MORE TO DO WITH BAMBOO
REMEMBER: CANES CAN CAUSE INJURIES! Teach children how to use them safely and correctly to protect themselves and others. Adult assistance/supervision required. Rubber cane caps are available to buy in the shop (singly or in packs) or try using scrunched up plastic vegetable bags/fabric scraps/cotton wool wrapped around and secured to exposed ends then covered with sticky tape.
3′ – 15p each, £1.30/10
4′ – 25p each, £2.30/10
5′ – 32p each, £2.90/10
6′ – 40p each, £3.80/10
7′ – 48p each, £4.40/10
8′ – 60p each, £5.50/10
String and tape for sale from 99p.
Metal hooks for securing netting etc into the ground £1.99 (pack of 10).