Secret Garden Camp — Garden Magic Part 2 of 3


There are three parts to the book A Secret Garden that I chose to use for activities in this camp: Gardening, Character Values, Mystery.


I used a few books to get ideas. This one is fabulous! Other than our secret garden, we also made this spider web climber and Safari Hideout, and a scarecrow for Grandpa’s vegetable garden.


Great Gardens For Kids, by  Clare Matthews. This book is full of fabulous backyard ideas for kids!

2-The Magic Is In Me

There is “magic in all of us” is a lesson the children in the book learn that comes through positive thinking, believing in ourselves, and being likeable, and being happy.

Mary and Collin are often described as being unpleasant and rude. The servant Martha, in fact, says Mary is “as tyrannical as a pig” and that Collin is the “worst young newt as ever was.” At camp we talked about why  both of these children were so ill tempered. No one liked to be around them. Would we like to be like them? How did they turn their attitudes around? The gardener Ben Weathstaff told the children, “Two things cannot be in the same place. Where you tend a rose, a thistle cannot grow.”  Perfect teaching point.

Our smiley baby–Little one year old with a broken arm. She never complained about her cast–no big deal–she just keeps smiling–always happy.

Toward the end of the book Collin said to Mary,

“’Of course there must be lots of Magic in the world,…but people don’t know what it is like or how to make it. Perhaps the beginning is just to say nice things are going to happen until you make them happen. I am going to try and experiment.’ It made her think that it was curious how much nicer a person looked when he smiled.’ She had not thought of it before.

Both Colin and Mary learned the lessons of positive thinking, happiness is created within, and believing in yourself from Dickon and his family, as well as the gardener Ben Weatherstaff. These are the elements of the magic we can create. and developing these characteristics was a major focus for this Grandma’s Camp.

Smiling was a good place to start.

For Younger Children:

  • The Smile Song: For the smaller children we sang the Smile Song  (LDS Children’s Songbook, 267) and do the actions below with the kids. There is a graphic of a smiley face that you turn upside down and it’s a frowny face.  (It is in the LDS nursery manual, but I cannot post the link. You can search for it.) Here are the words and actions of the song. I sang it as a child and still love it and sing it to my grandkids.

If you chance to meet a frown, (pull corners of mouth down to a frown) ; Do not let it stay. (shake head from side to side);  Quickly turn it upside down  And smile that frown away. (push corners of mouth into a smile);  No one likes a frowning face. (pull corners of mouth down to a frown); Change it for a smile. (push corners of mouth into a smile) ; Make the world a better place  By smiling all the while.

  • The Little Engine That Could: This story written by  story for younger children to teach optimism and hard work.IMG_2775-001Everyone loves this story about a little train. After reading it, we talked about things they tried even though it looked too hard for them.Then we went outside and hooked together as a train and climbed one of our hills, repeating the phrase,  “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can” as the little train did. This demonstrated team work and “keep trying.”

For All Ages:

  •  The Good In You:  Pass slips of paper to the children. Have them write something good about each of the other children–put it in a basket and draw them out and read them to the children. Then have each child write something good about themselves. Attach these to their journals.
  • Are You A Filler or a Dipper? Mary and Collin were both Dippers. Dickon and Martha were Fillers.
  • The kids each had a small bucket with a few pieces of candy in it and a scoop.
  • They stood in a circle, with two or three judges on the outside.
  • They were to talk to each other and tell each other something they liked about them.
  • When a positive thing was said (“you are a good friend to people”), the judge put a few more candies in that person’s bucket.
  • When a snide comment was heard like “yeah, only sometimes.”  The judge scoops out some candy from that bucket.
  • As it keeps going, the kids begin talking over each other, but unkind comments disappear.
  • Then is a perfect time for a discussion about two kinds of people–some fill others buckets and some dip out of people’s buckets. Mary and Collin were dippers until their attitudes and actions changed. Which are we?  The Internet has a lot of ideas about using this book Have You Filled A Bucket Today? See BUCKET FILLERS.
  • Doorknob Signs

Foam doorknob signs can be purchased at any craft store.  Cover the signs with scrapbook paper and embellishments. This is a good activity toward the end of camp. I used all of the following quotes as we discussed what Mary and Colin learned from Dickon and his family.

Remind the kids and summarize with these quotes, then have them choose one to use as a doorknob sign:

  • Happiness is created from within. –Grandpa Parker
  • “They can because they think they can.”–Virgil
  • “If you think you can or if you think you can’t, you are right.”–Henry Ford

  • Where a rose is planted, a thistle cannot grow– Frances Hodgson Burnett’s

  • Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” – Abraham Lincoln
  • “Every day is a good day if you pray.” –Norman Vincent Peale

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