If you read my gardening posts, you’ll know that Flora has very recently become an enthusiastic gardener too. She has her own patch behind our summerhouse and is taking great delight in finding things to plant and grow. So when Willow & Wild * asked if she’d like to try their October Hallowe’en themed arts, craft, and gardening kids subscription box, of course she said yes, please!
Willow & Wild
Willow & Wild is run by Abbie and offers a personalised, monthly subscription box for 3 – 8 year olds, packed full of craft, gardening, cooking and outdoor activities. Inspired by nature, the boxes aim to get children exploring the outdoors and learning about how things grow, the changing seasons, healthy eating, and animal/plant life-cycles.
There are two options available, a letterbox size and a bumper box, which would be ideal if you had more than one child. Subscriptions start from £8.95 for a one-off monthly box, with at least two craft projects, vegetable and/or flower seeds, step by step planting and growing instructions, outdoor activity & inspiration guides, and a recipe card.
Willow & Wild also have their own School Gardening Programme, to help provide children with opportunities for learning outside the classroom. And they’ve recently launched a new range of nature-inspired summer activity bags and party bags too.
So, what did we get inside October’s box?
- instructions for making a pumpkin lantern and a lolly spider (card, pen, pipe cleaners, googly eyes and lolly provided)
- a pumpkin puzzle and Hallowe’en noughts and crosses
- a packet of mung beans with instructions on how to grow and cook them
- some orange and white paper, and rocket seeds, with instructions on how to make seed paper
- a bag of raisins and a bag of icing sugar plus ideas for making Hallowe’en fruit treats
- a booklet with facts about bats and spiders
- and an envelope for the “grown-up” ie, me!
Pumpkin lantern, lolly spider, games
We started out with the easiest activities to get us in the mood. We have three cats (including a Ginger one) so Flora decided to make a cat lantern instead of a pumpkin one. It’s still pretty Hallowe-en like though, don’t you think? And her little spider lolly looks suitably creepy, albeit slightly cross-eyed…
As we were doing all the activities in one go on a rainy Saturday, we decided to leave the games for another day. I think they’d be a lot of fun for younger children, as well as help them develop their fine motor skills.
We’ve grown mung beans before so rather than use a series of recycled plastic containers, I dug out an old jam jar. The muslin we used previously was long gone but we made do with one of my hold ups and an elastic band.
The advantage of a jar and tights is that it’s much easier to rinse the mung beans and top them up with fresh water every day. Otherwise, we’d have to decant, rinse, and then put them back into a container.
Mung beans are quite quick germinators so we should be able to harvest them in a week’s time. Then we can either eat them raw or try them in this rather delicious stir fry recipe – they’re Flora’s beans so Flora can choose :).
As we didn’t have any jelly cubes for Eye Ball Jelly and Flora’s not keen on citrus fruit, we opted to just make the Ghost Bananas, and a Bat for luck.
We found it quite easy to press the raisins into the banana for the Ghosts, so didn’t need to mix up any icing sugar “glue”. And Flora had the idea to draw some wings to make a Bat with the middle section of the banana – isn’t he cute?
Flora’s had seed paper in a party bag before but we’ve never tried to make our own. Challenge accepted! After ripping the supplied orange and white paper into small pieces and leaving it to soak in water for a couple of hours, we blitzed it in the food processor.
After blitzing, we had to press the pulp in a sieve to get rid of as much water as possible before mixing in the seeds. I had to do this as Flora refused to touch it, “It looks like sick, this really isn’t my thing.” This from a child who will happily plunge her arms into a murky pond in search of tadpoles. Oh, well.
After mixing in the seeds, I put the pulped paper between some baking paper sheets and Flora flattened it out with a rolling pin. Then it was back into the parchment to dry in the airing cupboard for a few days before planting out when dry.
Bat and spider facts
While we were waiting for the paper to soak up the water, we read up on bats and spiders.
Did you know we have 17 different types of bat in the UK? We’ve got a bat box on the side of our house and we did see a few swooping around earlier this summer. They’re so fast though, I’ve no idea what type they are. And we learned that spider silk contains Vitamin K, which helps clot blood and stop bleeding. Before plasters were invented, people sometimes used to put spiders’ webs on their cuts.
Despite Flora’s reluctance to touch the paper pulp, I think she really enjoyed all the things to do in her Willow & Wild box. Her favourite things were her Hallowe’en lantern, and the Ghost and Bat banana snacks – which she ate for pudding later that evening. I think the mix of arts, craft, gardening and cooking are a really great way to introduce children to growing and eating their own produce. And judging by the range of activities in her October box, there really is something for all ages. Including grown-ups – my envelope had a lovely tea bag for me to relax with after all the making and doing, haha. Big thank you to Abbie, we’ve had a lot of fun this month!
What’s your favourite activity from this box?
* We were gifted this box in exchange for a review but all opinions are our own and this is an honest, unbiased review.