During the summer, I like to do projects outside for two reasons: the weather is too beautiful to pass up and (theoretically at least) the mess is less damaging. So today we put the kids in painting clothes and smocks and headed out to the driveway to make toad houses. I found this project in a "gardening for kids" book a long time ago, and filed it away for future use. It was a hit because not only did it involve painting (painting being ranked number one on the list of acceptable kid projects) it also involved toads.
Why do all kids love toads when all their mothers would rather not think about them?
Toad Houses are pretty simple to make. All you need is a terra cotta pot (I chose the 4 inch size), any color of acrylic paint, and a brush. We painted ours a single color because of the drying time involved, but we had considered adding decoration as a second step.
After the paint is dry, take the toad house to your garden, and find a nice spot for it where the kids can see it, but not trample on your plants. Dig out a little dirt, maybe 1-2 inches deep, and lay the pot on it's side in the hole, so that the pot makes a little shady cave that a toad might fall in love with. Put the extra dirt inside the pot to make a floor, and add a few pieces of bark or sticks or rocks. Hopefully your work will be rewarded by a toad who sets up house. Your kids will probably name the toad (ours is pre-named the Little Green Frog) and you can be thankful that it is eating some of the other creepy-crawly things in your garden.