The soothing sound of water trickling from a water fountain is music to the ears after a busy day. If you don't have one on your patio or deck, here's how to make a simple version with your kids, using a terra-cotta flowerpot and tray.

For a basic fountain, you'll need:

Clean, 6-inch clay flowerpot with drainage hole

10-inch draining tray

Certified pump kit: fountain pump and tubing to fit through the drainage hole of the clay pot (available at many hardware and discount stores)

Metal file

Marbles or pretty rocks

Acrylic paints

Paint sealant (optional)

You can use larger or smaller pots and trays, so long as the pot is two or more inches smaller than the tray it sits in and is large enough to house the pump kit.

Before you paint and assemble the fountain, use a metal file to create a small notch on the rim of the clay pot to allow the cord enough clearance space when the pot is upside down.

Enjoy the fountain in its natural terra-cotta shade, or paint both pot and tray in bright colors and designs. When dry, cover all surfaces with a sealant for extra protection (optional).

Place the pump in the center of the drainage tray. Set the clay pot upside down on the tray over the pump. Push the pump tubing up through the hole in the pot so that water will eventually come out of that hole. (You may need to enlarge the drainage hole with the metal file.) Direct the electric cord through the notch you made.

Arrange marbles or stones on the tray around the pot. Fill the tray with clean water, making sure the water flows under the pot to the pump. Turn on the pump and watch the water flow gently over the pot.

For a taller, stacked fountain: In addition to the above materials, you'll need a 4-inch pot with a 6-inch tray, a 10-inch pot with a 15-inch tray, a drill with a masonry bit and safety glasses. You will be stacking the tower from bottom to top, with the largest tray and pot on the bottom and the smallest on top. (Be sure the pump tubing is long enough to reach to the top.)

An adult wearing safety glasses should drill a hole in the center of the top two drainage trays for the tubing to fit snugly through. Assemble as described above, this time inserting the tubing through all three pots and the two trays.

Note: Always keep sufficient clean water in the fountain, and keep the fountain out of reach of young children and pets.


Donna Erickson's new award-winning television series "Donna's Day" is airing on public television nationwide. Visit www.donnasday.com to find out when it airs on your local PBS station and to sign up for Donna's e-newsletter. Her latest book is "Donna Erickson's Fabulous Funstuff for Families." © Donna Erickson, Dist. by King Features Syndicate