Interactive Play Space: Garden Shop!


Reusable Supplies

So let’s talk about how I used the more permanent features this month:

1. Constructive Playthings Create-It Station, $299.99.
Okay, buying the big piece is always the scariest part of the investment. I was lucky enough to have a coupon code from a previous order that I saved for this one. And I caught a sale. (The coupon code got me free shipping and I want to say the product was marked down to $239.99.) This piece is lovely and versatile. This month, you can see that I had my boss write “Garden Shop” on the top. I also chose to not have the removable white board on and kept the shelves exposed.

2. Learning Resources Cash Register, $39.99.
This was my favorite cash register in all of my searches. I also wound up purchasing it through Amazon, which brought the price down to $26.95 at the time. I had a volunteer laminate the money and pulled the coins for choking hazards since our Family Center serves all ages. The cash register makes small beeps when pressing buttons and a longer sound when opening the drawer, but it’s minimal and we haven’t heard it from our desk.

3. Target White Plastic Bins, $31.99.
I went big and bought nice looking, plastic containers. These were the only items I paid full price for because I thought the size was perfect for our station. And as you can see from the picture, I was right! The signs are laminated, hole punched, and tied to the bins.

4. Target Grey Plastic Bins, $9.99 each.
I got these during the college back-to-school sales earlier this year to organize our puppet collection. We wound up not using them for that purpose and they had been in my house waiting for a purpose. And a purpose was born when I realized they fit into the bottom shelves of the station! The signs are also laminated, but are Velcro-ed on.

Special Garden Shop Supplies

1. Soil Bags (hand-made), approximately $4.
These are two freezer bags (I used a hole punch to carve out holes so that the bag cannot “seal” and suffocate a child) filled with $0.29 brown felt. I left the sheets whole for easier clean-up and the kids just stuff them into the pots to hold up the flowers. I laminated an image of the product that I found online to slide in front of the felt.

2. Parent Tips, absolutely no cost.
Take the time to provide information to your parents about how to use the space and prompts to get them to engage with their child. These took me just a few minutes to hammer out and I’m pleased with what I came up with.

3. Vegetables from Learning Resources Farmers Market Color Sorting Set, $39.99.
This was a re-purpose. I didn’t buy this for the Garden Shop; I bought it for use in a kit. When it didn’t fit in the container, I put it away in a closet at work. When I needed vegetables for my Garden Shop, I remembered about these and pulled them out. (This is another product available on Amazon for a lower price if you’re interested.)

4. Tools from Amazon (Liberty Imports), $15.95.
This was specifically purchased by my boss for me as a surprise for the Garden Center. I do so love surprises! I did not put out the pots, the small wrench, or the plant tag. The pots were too small to hold up our flowers and the wrench/plant tag were small enough that I thought they would just get lost.

5. Pots from Dollar Tree & Menards, approximately $5.
I bought a pack from the dollar store that had six pots in it. The pots are VERY flexible and I thought that they might get crushed by the kids. So I also went to Menard’s and bought some $1.49 pots for more durable pieces.

6. Watering Cans from Amazon, made by Hape, $7.99 each.
Here’s my BIG purchase (in my opinion) for the Garden Shop. The dollar stores did not have child-sized watering cans, Wal-Mart’s were all branded with characters, Target had metal watering cans in the dollar spot, and Five Below only had watering cans that looked like frogs. When I couldn’t find anything I liked in stores, I went online and bought these. Hape is a brand I’m familiar with and I loved the sunny color.

7. Seed Packets (donated), free.
We are launching a Seed Library, so I used packets that were donated as our seeds. The seeds have been placed in our Seed Library envelopes. I laminated the packets to make them last longer.

8. Flowers from Michaels, $1.99-$2.99 each.
These are not a perfect match to the ones I have since I bought in stores. There’s a Michaels on my way home, so I stopped by several times and used a 40% off coupon on each of these flowers so I spent $1.19-$1.79 per bunch instead of the list price. I trimmed the flowers with a set of wire cutters to make them fit into the pots. And to make them safe (since there are wire inside the stems for floral arranging), I also bought corks and the library had duct tape. I put each end into a cork and wrapped duct tape around the cork. This has worked amazingly well because it also stabilizes the flowers to help the kids plant them.

9. Shopping Bags from Target dollar spot, $2 each.
These we will likely reuse for many different stores and shops.

10. Price List, no cost.
I made a price list of the items, using the same picture cues as I had on the tags.

Miscellaneous items the library had on hand: Velcro, ribbon, 3M hooks, duct tape, wire cutters, Expo markers, laminator, paper, display holder.

And a bonus for this month: our sand/water table was out as a bin to plant in:

1. Sand/Water Table
The sand/water table is also from Constructive Playthings and was also purchased on sale for under $200. It is currently at list price $248.99.

2-4. Planting Bed, approximately $7.99
For the planting bed, I used pool noodles that were in my house from my last library (I had bought them to use as limbo sticks) and brown felt left over from another project of mine. I capped each noodle end with brown felt and a rubber band to hold it (2). And I put a TON of hot glue on each end and rubber band. I cut the noodles to fit the bin and wrapped the felt around each noodles, hot gluing the whole way (3 & 4).

My estimation is that the Garden Shop supplies cost $107 full price, if you include buying all the items new. My cost? $54.08 (Which does not include the Farmer Market set since it wasn’t purchased for this or the Planting Bed supplies since it’s material I had on-hand at my house.)

And because I want to make this as easy as possible for anyone to use, I uploaded all my files as PDFs:

Garden Shop Labels
Garden Shop Open & Closed Sign
Garden Shop Parent Tips
Garden Shop Price List
Garden Shop Vegetable & Flower Patch Sign

Check back in a few weeks to see how the materials in the Garden Shop lasted and how I’m storing these play centers for future use!

12 comments on “Interactive Play Space: Garden Shop!

  1. ashleyanne271
    May 12, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

    This looks like so much fun! We are thinking of doing something similar at our library. How sturdy is the station? Would it be easily knocked over by excited kids? Thanks!

    • Katie
      May 12, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

      It’s heavy enough to require two adults to lift it. I’m able to slide it around if I need to, but I have to put my weight behind it.

  2. Alicia Rambo
    May 14, 2015 at 9:25 am #

    Thank you so much for including links, prices, and even PDF documents of your signs. You did an amazing job with this!

    • Katie
      May 26, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

      Thank you. I wanted to make it as easy as possible for anyone to replicate!

  3. Narineh
    May 21, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

    This is so fun to see! We’re doing a similar project for my library system too. We have pilots at 4 of our branches and are rotating 4 different themes. We’re doing a Farmer’s Market, Scientist, Construction and Home Kitchen. It’ll be fun to add a garden to the mix. I love that you have the potting soil on there.

    • Katie
      May 26, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

      Very cool! I’d be interested to see what you did for the Scientist and Construction themes!

  4. Karen
    July 27, 2015 at 2:42 pm #

    Hi Katie,
    I love these ideas! I tried to send you an email a little while back with a few questions about the interactive play space. I’m not sure if I had the correct address or not – is there a good way to get in touch with you?

    • Katie
      September 16, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

      My email is simplykatie[at]gmail[dot]com. It’s possible I missed your earlier email. My summer was very busy, both professionally and personally.

      • Karen
        September 16, 2015 at 3:03 pm #

        Thanks for getting back to me! Email is headed your way!


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