Monday, May 1, 2017

Make a Zen Garden for Kids | Family Dinner Book Club Craft

Make a zen garden for kids with a few materials you probably already have at home.


Even though my ancestry is Irish-Canadian, I've always been surrounded by Japanese art. My mom lived in Japan for several years as a young girl, a time her family treasured. My grandparents brought home lots of furniture, art, and other objects from their time overseas, many of which are now in my own home. So I only needed to look around my house to find inspiration for this month's Family Dinner Book Club craft.

Although I couldn't begin to recreate the beautiful things that my grandparents gave me from Japan, I was able to create a simple and lovely centerpiece for our table that everyone can create and enjoy.


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Make a zen garden for kids! This mini Japanese rock garden craft is inspired by the Peace Tree of Hiroshima and is perfect for a Family Dinner Book Club table craft! Why buy a kit when you can make this zen garden with a few materials around your home? Perfect calm down activity for everyone in the family!

Family Dinner Book Club: The Peace Tree from Hiroshima

If you're new to Family Dinner Book Club, welcome! This monthly project is a wonderful way for families to connect over good books, easy crafts, and delicious food. It's simple - every month, we share a book with activities & conversation starters from Growing Book by Book, a themed menu from Chef Sarah Elizabeth, and an easy craft from me. This year, we are going "around the world" and each month's book features a different country.

We've also made it much easier for you to plan your Family Dinner Book Club nights with a free printable planner. Just click the button below to download yours and join along with us all year long!



This month's book is The Peace Tree from Hiroshima by Sandra Moore. This award winning picture book is the true story of a bonsai tree that lived with the same family in Japan for over 300 years, surviving the bombing of Hiroshima, before being donated to the National Arboretum in 1976 in a gesture of peace. I have actually seen the real life peace tree, so I was really excited to share this book with my boys.


I wanted to create a Family Dinner Book Club craft that would celebrate Japanese culture while also invoking the same feeling of peace and harmony created by the book, so I decided to let my boys create their own zen garden. It was so easy and a wonderful addition to our Family Dinner Book Club table!

Make a Zen Garden for Kids

Japanese zen gardens, also called rock gardens, have been around for centuries. Miniature versions have been popular for years, often seen on desk tops as stress relievers. And while you can buy a kit to make your own zen garden, you can easily make one from things that you already have in your home or yard. It is a lot less expensive and much more fun for your family! 


To make your own zen garden, you will need:
  • Small shallow dish
  • Sand (we grabbed some from our sandbox)
  • Rocks - this is a great opportunity to go rock hunting in your yard or around your neighborhood.
  • Small bowl for a water feature
  • Greenery or tree/shrub clippings (This is optional - we clipped a few small branches from our Japanese maple tree, but the boys didn't like them in the garden, so we put them in a small vase to the side.)
  • Small fork to use as a rake. We had these adorable plastic forks left over from a party, but any fork will do.

Start by scooping a small layer of sand into your dish. You may want to do this outside, or cover your work surface with paper first to help contain any mess. Use the fork as a rake to smooth the surface.

Then add in your elements - we included a shallow dish (actually part of a Japanese tea set I used as a child) as a water element. My boys loved exploring the rocks they had collected and putting them in just the right spots.




You can use your zen garden as a centerpiece for your Family Dinner Book Club table, or get it out any time that your kids (or you!) need a quiet, relaxing activity.


Complete Your Family Dinner Book Club Experience

See the rest of this month's Family Dinner Book Club - a themed menu from Chef Sarah Elizabeth and conversation starters and service projects from Growing Book by Book.

Be sure to drop by our Facebook page to share photos of your Family Dinner Book Club projects, or tag me @sunnydayfamily on Instagram too!

Be sure to check out our other Family Dinner Book Club crafts for more inspiration!

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Make a zen garden for kids! This mini Japanese rock garden craft is inspired by the Peace Tree of Hiroshima and is perfect for a Family Dinner Book Club table craft! Why buy a kit when you can make this zen garden with a few materials around your home? Perfect calm down activity for everyone in the family!

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