Spring — and dare I say it, summer — has finally come to DC. Flowers are blooming, the school year is coming to a close. This is the perfect time to nurture the budding florists in your home with kid-friendly flower arrangements. Homemade flower arrangements make great teacher gifts and can add a civilized touch to your own dinner table — yes, even if your children are still rubbing yogurt on their faces.
Even young children can enjoy flower arranging, if you set them up for success. Toddlers as young as 18 months old will make flower arrangements in the Montessori class I lead at my church. My own sons, aged 4 and 7, are generally more inclined to spend their time wrestling, chasing each other in circles, and strategically placing LEGOs directly in my path. But if I set up flower–arranging for them, they will sit and enjoy it for 30 minutes or longer. And they are really satisfied with their work when they make a beautiful arrangement.
Prepare your kid-friendly flower materials
You can make cute and inexpensive gifts by arranging flowers in small Mason jars, readily available at your neighborhood hardware store. For greatest chance of success with little kids, prepare everything before you invite them to this work. First, take the lid off the jar and fill it with floral foam. Floral foam, or “oasis”, is a magical, super-absorbent green block you can buy at craft stores, some big-box stores, or online. It holds water for your flowers and makes a tactile wonderland into which your kids can push the stems. Cut out pieces of floral foam that fit in your jar (I use a kitchen knife), then fill it with water.
I pre-cut flowers and greenery to make the stems shorter and more manageable for little hands, then put them in vases or jars on a tray. But it’s fun for kids to give the stems a final trim. Cat nail-clippers are a surprisingly adept tool for kids to cut stems.
Choose your flowers
You can just give your kids a few of one type of flower. But if you want to up your game, use greenery and two different kinds of flowers. If young children are doing the arrangements, make sure you choose flowers and greenery with strong stems, so kids can get a good grip when they push it into the foam.
First choose one “face flower,” the flashy centerpiece flower, like a Rose or a Gerbera Daisy.
Next, put in your “filler flowers,” small flowers in a coordinating color that can fill in the arrangement. I like Dianthus, small Carnations, and Mums.
Finally, surround the flowers with small sprigs of greenery. You can buy bundles of greenery at Trader Joe’s. Or if you have a yard, trim some branches from a bush or tree. This can also be a great opportunity for a little public service project — you and your children can trim a neighbor’s boxwood and keep the sprigs of greenery! (You might want to ask first, though.)
Flourishing flower arrangements!
Your child has made a beautiful (or at least “interesting and heartfelt”) flower arrangement! Keep that floral foam moist so the flowers will stay fresh. Give them as sweet gifts! Or set the flowers on the dinner table with a candle to class up your macaroni and cheese tonight!