Backyard Reading Garden

Reading for children can be fun when it is outdoors in the garden.

Reading for children can be fun when it is outdoors in the garden.

Have you ever wondered how to take your love for reading and combine it with a love for the outdoors and garden? Whether you are a parent, a teacher, a grandparent, or simply have a childlike heart, creating a backyard reading garden may be a perfect weekend project for you!

What Is It?
What is a backyard reading garden, you may ask? It is simply an outdoor space that is designed to include a clever nook used as a reading spot! Reading Gardens can be large or small, simple or elaborate and maybe whatever style you desire. Reading Gardens are a great way to get children involved in reading, while stimulating their interest in the outdoors as well.

Selecting a Location
To begin, select a location in the outdoors of your backyard that brings you or your child peace and happiness. Oftentimes, people like to choose a place that they already enjoy frequenting or that is special to them. Whether sunny, shady, or a mixture of both, be sure that the lighting is sufficient for reading. Having a place that is a quiet, or tranquil, is very helpful as well.

Choosing the Seating
Next, seating needs to be decided on. There are many options available when it comes to picking a place to sit and read in your backyard reading garden. You may decide that you only want seating for one, or perhaps you will choose seating to accommodate multiple readers. If you plan to read with your child, keep this in mind and create child size as well as adults sized seating options. Ideas include: a bench, a swing, a stationary chair or two, a hammock, a chaise lounge, or even an existing natural seat such as a stump or stone. No matter what you decide, be sure that it will be adequate for both short and long reading sessions.

A lovely hideout for children to read their books.

A lovely hideout for children to read their books.

Adding Special Touches
Just as in a traditional garden, a backyard reading garden will often begin as a bit of a blank slate. Make a plan to add or let your children add the finishing touches that are special to them. Ideas that you may want to consider include: colorful flowers or lovely plants, bird feeders or baths, an art station for nature inspired sketches and paintings, a relaxing water feature or even musical additions, such as a wind chime. The sky is truly the limit…literally!

Enjoying the Reading Garden
Once created, the backyard reading garden will become a lovely place for adults and children alike to spend hours inside the pages of their favorite stories. Read alone, with a friend, to your children or as a group. Reflect on your reading and the nature around you by jotting in a journal or with an inspirational art piece. No matter what activities you choose to do incorporate into your backyard reading garden, it is sure to be a delight for all! Let us know about your experience with a reading garden. Leave your comments below!

By Jenny

Composting for Kids…

Composting for Kids!

One of the greatest wonders of nature is transformation. From the way the dark sky changes to the dawn each morning to the metamorphosis of the caterpillar to a magnificent butterfly or the tiny seed to a mature plant! All around the garden and throughout nature there is transformation happening.

But did you know that much of the rubbish, trash and waste that many people throw away can be transformed into something new and useful as well? Exciting, isn’t it! The process by which nature takes something old and used up and changes it into garden healthy fertilizer is called composting.

How used fruit and veg can help the garden..

How used fruit and veg can help the garden..

What is it?
Composting is the process of taking natural rubbish and solid organic waste and mixing it together, usually in a heap or bin, and allowing it to cure until it breaks down (or decomposes) into a rich and fertile kind of fertilizer!

Why is it helpful?
Composting not only allows us to have wonderful fertilizer for our flowers and gardens that we can make at home, but it also reduces the amount of rubbish that has to be burned or gotten rid of. This is good for everyone because it helps the earth!

What do I need?
First, you must decide if you will compost in a heap or a bin. Heaps work well if you have a lot of space to use. For more confined spaces, try a bin! No matter which method you choose, you will want to remove the grass or weeds in the area so that the bottom of your compost can rest on the bare earth. If using a bin, cut out holes in the bottom. You may also want shelter for your compost to keep excess rain water out, as well as birds or other creatures that may want to dig for food in your compost.

What rubbish do I put in?
Once your compost heap or bin is ready, it is time to begin adding waste and rubbish to it! As a good rule, any solid rubbish that comes from nature, can usually be put into the compost. This includes things like grass clippings, fruit peels, vegetable scraps, egg shells, sawdust, fallen leaves, and even paper.

What cannot go in?
Avoid adding anything liquid or that contains chemicals or pesticides to your compost. Also, do not attempt to compost things that are made of metal, glass, or plastic. Finally, do not put large sticks or wood debris in with your compost, as these types of items take much longer to decompose than you will want.

That’s it! Keep adding to your bin or heap as you have rubbish that can go in it and let nature do the rest. You will know that your compost is ready to use as a fertilizer in your garden when it is crumbly, dark in color, & smells like earth!

Compost making

Making compost

Don’t forget to reserve your printed copy of Rebecca and the Strangest Garden! You can reserve it here


From Food to Flowers: How to Garden with Kids!

Getting the kids excited for the outdoors seems to be a priority for parents these days. With so many children’s activities revolving around a television, computer screen, or game system, moms and dads are often faced with the challenge of how to make fresh air seem fun and enjoyable for their little ones.

While there are many incredibly fun ways to get the kids outside and active, one of my very favorites to recommend to parents and other caretakers of children is gardening. Whether you are cultivating a small flower patch or a backyard food plot, getting the kids involved in the activity creates a season long activity that will not only encourage them to love the outdoors, but also teach valuable skills. Not sure where to start? Here are some of my suggestions, categorized by age, to get you started!

Children digging in the garden SAFELY

Children digging in the garden

Toddlers & Twos
The biggest challenge for keeping a very young child engaged in gardening is to keep things moving along. Patience is usually not a strong character trait at this age, so choose activities that can be ongoing. Ideas include: scooping and mounding dirt, watering plants using a small watering can, sifting soil for rocks, or crafting to decorate the garden area. REMEMBER CHILDREN WILL NEED PARENTS WITH THEM SUPERVISING THEM WHEN USING ANY KIND OF EQUIPMENT..That way they have fun and stay safe..

Threes & Fours
Once a child has developed into the preschool aged years, hopefully their attention span and level of patience has developed a bit more as well. When gardening with this age group, I recommend that you stick with plants that are easy to grow and sprout quickly, so that they get excited about progress. Some edible plants to consider are beans, peas, and radishes. If you are looking for more decorative flowering choices, consider sunflowers!

Fives & Sixes
Children that are already in school, or that will be entering school soon are more organized in their thoughts and able to understand progression much better. Again, I recommend easy growing easy plants at this age, but giving them more responsibility to keep track of. Creating a grow chart is fun and a schedule of plant care activities works too. Allow them to place a check mark or sticker upon completion of activities, such as watering and weeding, and count down to the expected harvest date on a calendar.

Seven & Above
Activities for the 5 & 6 range work well with older children too, especially if you add in some additional challenges that are age appropriate. Things like harder to grow plant varieties, composting activities, organic fertilizers and pest control methods, or crop rotations and planting patterns, just to name a few.

Whether you have a large backyard, or a small potting area in a sunny window or patio, getting the kids involved in gardening is a great activity!

Children having fun and playing in the garden

Children having fun and playing in the garden

Looking for additional ways to get the kids active and excited about the outdoors and gardening? Here are some great resources to check out!

Kids Outdoors Pinterest Board: One of my favorite things to do (other than writing and gardening) is to gather fun ideas from all around the web to my Pinterest board, as a handy resource for parents looking for outdoor activities for their children. With hundreds of pins to browse through, and more being added weekly, this is a great resource for anyone wanting to get their Kids Outdoors, and into the garden!

Prepare to be charmed by a great debut children’s book, Rebecca and the Strangest Garden. An excellent tale of supernatural friendships, survival and hope that will encourage children to get out in the garden and inspire a love for plants and the outdoors! Rebecca’s school is out for a mini half term break and Rebecca is away with her beloved Auntie Sue for what she thought would be a relaxing, quiet long weekend. Well, not quite. Rebecca soon learned the true meaning of ‘hearing it on the grapevine’ and ‘gossips over the garden fence’. Before long, she too recognizes the importance of ‘green fingers’.
 Reserve your copy here.

Perfumes in the Garden

The best perfumes are natural! Why do I say that you might ask? Well yesterday, I was at business school and the teacher brought in a bunch of flowers from her garden. She had wanted to choose objects which she felt reminded her of all the students in the class. She held up a glass jar of water with up to 18 different flowers, leaves, and buds. I instantly fell in love with a bright yellow rose. I said nothing as I did not want the other students to know in case they decided they wanted it too! As she spoke, I watched the beautiful yellow rose. Eventually, she said she wanted all 18 of us to come up and to take one of the flowers from the jar. That has her farewell gift to us. I sprinted up to the jar and very politely snatched the yellow rose. I placed it into my bag very happy that I now had a beautiful object to remind me of the course. Everywhere I went, people commented on the beautiful smell. I went on the bus, the train, into the shops, back home and everyone commented on the beautiful smell of the yellow rose. Sadly, it became crushed in my bag on my way home.

my crushed but fragrant  yellow rose

my crushed but fragrant yellow rose

I didn’t despair, I simply placed it into its own jar of water and waited for it to uncurl…it didn’t!
However, that did not stop my mother from saying “what a lovely smell!”. I know people who have spent loads of money buying the perfect perfume from the most expensive shops. Here, I had inside my room a crushed yellow rose with probably the best perfume of them all!

Imogen x


Stanley and Katrina von Cat the Master of Wisdom and Knowledge are celebrating their one year blogiversary (click here to read their inaugural post) by hosting their very own “Book Blasty Tour”. Thank you for taking the time to visit this special stop along their tour. 

About the Book

Title: The Perpetual Papers of the Pack of Pets
Authors: Stanley & Katrina, Pet Authors
Illustrator: Miro Chun
Year published:  2012
Updates: This book was updated in September of 2013 with a new cover, interior illustrations, and a sneak peek of book #2 in the series.
Publisher: CreateSpace
Number of pages: 106
Recommended ages: 5+ 
Summary (Amazon): After three years of living under the same roof as the dog in the house, Katrina von Cat the Master of Wisdom and Knowledge decides to write a letter to her canine housemate, Stanley. Katrina loves treats, naps and bossing the dog around. Stanley loves snow, attention and turkey. The diva kitty, Katrina, will have none of Stanley’s antics and most certainly will not stand for him eating her food. The only reasonable solution is to take him to Kitty Court.

Amazon U.S. * Amazon U.K. * Amazon Canada 

 Barnes & Noble *  Leanpub(digital formats) 

The Buzz

“The book is really humorous. It is unique in a manner where you see the cat and dog communicating with each other about themselves, their likes, and dislikes in a letter form. The narrator’s tidbits add to the charm of the book. The contrasting characters and their individual personalities have been etched well. The author has put the perspective of the pets in the forefront and written a unique and excellent book for children.” ~ Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers’ Favorite

We enjoyed this book tremendously! It charmed us, made us laugh, and kept us wanting to read more. A tip of the hat to the pair of pets whose rivalry leads the story along its delightful course.~ Amazon Reviewer

About the Authors: Stanley & Katrina

Stanley is a three-year-old black Labrador/Rottweiler mix who does his best to ignore Katrina.
Katrina von Cat the Master of Wisdom and Knowledge is an eight-year-old grey tabby cat who loves her toy mouse.
They would love to tell you where they live but all they know is that they live in a tan house. For more information about Stanley & Katrina, please visit their website,

* Free Printables For This Book! *

Kid Lit Printables has created fun and FREE printables for The Perpetual Papers of the Pack of Pets. Click here to view all available printables, now. 

Stanley & Katrina’s 

Book Blasty Tour Stops(2013)

November 8

* $25 Book Blasty Tour Giveaway *

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest runs:November 8  to November 30, 11:59 pm, 2013 
Open: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget above or by clicking here.
Terms and Conditions: A randomly drawn winner will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest or any other entity unless otherwise specified. If you have any additional questions, feel free to send us an email at stanleyandkatrina (at) gmail (dot) com.
* This giveaway is sponsored by the authors, Stanley & Katrina. *

Let’s go gardening…

Children gardening together is an excellent way to relax, have fun, build friendships, teamwork and learn about nature. The kids from Featherston School in New Zealand have learned the benefits of this by working hard and securing a place in the finals for a national school gardening competition. They have done really well by producing not only a well-tended garden but an orchard, with an irrigation system! These children are learning how to grow fruit and vegetables and be self-sufficient in the years to come. These are really important lessons to learn now.
Children all over the world are beginning to see the value of gardening too. Even in war torn countries, where sometimes schools are cancelled at short notice and children are faced with the fears of bombings – many are turning to sports and gardening (!) to escape and find relaxation. Not only can the garden be a great place for reading a great children’s book and relaxing, but also a place to grow food for the family. When food and money are scarce, its wonderful to have the knowledge and skills to grow your own products which you could even sell for more cash!! I will be thinking of that!
Imogen x

Here we go…

Rebecca and the Strangest Garden on Earth is our debut children book, and covers really interesting issues in a non-threatening way. A story with an adventure, mystery and friendship. What I really liked about this book was the innocence of Rebecca yet her humour and that of her friends. I often chuckle as I hear my niece’s voice in Rebecca’s voice!! Auntie Sue….oh boy, I can relate to that one, a real character if ever…but lovable. It really made me think about gardening, valuing nature, looking at friendships in different areas and much more. Topics which perhaps we might look at later? Well, let me know what you think, and do look out for my blogs!

Imogen x