Friday Craft – Watch Your Garden Grow

I do not, I repeat, I DO NOT have a green thumb.

I can’t grow stuff to save my life. And I confess, the thought of putting my hands into the dirt and, well, getting dirty, is not very appealing to me.

However, I like plants, I love flowers and I think it’s uber cool that people grow gardens … you just won’t find me doing it.

But here are some fun ideas if you ARE into gardening …

Beneficial Bugs

These helpful row-marking insects appear to be standing guard above your tender seedlings.

Materials

Plastic jug
Scissors
Plastic cap
Pushpin
Flora wire
Hole punch
Black craft foam
White craft foam
White duct tape
Permanent marker

Instructions

For each, cut a set of heart-shaped wings out of a plastic jug. Hold the wings in place on top of a plastic cap and use a pushpin to make two holes through both. Fold an 18-inch length of floral wire in half and thread the ends through the holes as shown, twisting the wire to secure.
For the eyes, use a hole punch to make black craft-foam pupils, and use scissors to cut larger circles from white craft foam. Attach the eyes to the cap with a 4-inch length of floral wire as you did with the wings, then trim any excess.

For the tag, stick two pieces of white duct tape together, then cut out a word-balloon shape. Write the name of your plant on the tag with permanent marker, then use more duct tape to secure the tag to the floral wire.


Grow Your Own Name

Even if your little gardener can’t write his name yet, he’ll still enjoy watching it grow with this project from the book Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars: Grandma’s Bag of Tricks, by Sharon Lovejoy. Keep the grass watered in a sunny spot, and it will last for weeks. The bonus? Your child can practice his scissor skills trimming the grass.*

Materials

Wheat berry seeds (available at natural food stores)
Bowl of water
Shallow, rimmed tray or baking pan
Potting soil, moistened
Letter cookie cutters (optional)

Instructions

Soak the wheat berry seeds in the bowl of water overnight.

Fill the tray with about an inch of moist potting soil. Help your child arrange the seeds in the shape of her name, then have her gently press them into the soil with her fingertip (we set alphabet cookie cutters on the soil to use as a guide, then removed them after the seeds were pressed in place).

Mist the soil around the seeds to keep them moist, but don’t pour water directly on them until the roots are established. Place the tray in a sunny window, and the seeds should sprout within a few days.

Variations:

Grass Letters Instead of growing your child’s name in a tray, you can use cookie cutters to create a letter-shaped topiary with visible roots. Set the cookie cutters in a tray, fill them almost to the top with potting soil, then cover the surface with wheat berry seeds that have been soaked in water overnight. Gently push the seeds into the soil. Pour a thin puddle of water into the tray to keep the soil moist, and set the tray in a sunny window. Once the seeds have sprouted and the roots are established, pick up the cookie cutters and gently pop out the letters.


Leaf Tokens

These clay coins are lovely springtime keepsakes. As a bonus, in making them, your kids can learn the names of all the trees in your backyard or local park.

Materials

Leaf samples
Polymer clay (we used Sculpey)
Waxed paper
Bowl, lid, or glass with a wide base
Toothpick
Tweezers

Instructions

Collect leaf samples from the trees and large bushes in your yard or on a walk. Use a guide to identify each one.

At home, form clay into balls. Sandwich one between two sheets of waxed paper, then use the bottom of the bowl to press the clay into a disk. Peel back the top sheet, place a leaf on the disk, replace the paper, and flatten the clay with the bowl to a 1/4-inch thickness. Flip the clay over.

Use a toothpick to carve the tree’s name into the clay. Flip the clay over again and remove the leaf with tweezers.

Bake the tokens leaf-impression side up according to the package instructions.


Foam Caterpillar

Here’s a critter you’ll actually enjoy seeing in your garden or planter. Our cheerful, cheeky caterpillar is constructed out of — surprise! — foam practice golf balls, available at major retailers.

Materials

3 foam practice golf balls
Serrated knife
Colored craft foam
18-gauge wire
12-inch wooden skewer
Permanent marker

Instructions

Slice 2 balls into thirds with a serrated knife (a parent’s job).

Cut about a dozen colored craft foam circles (for perfect circles, trace a cut ball).

For the antennae, clip two 2- to 3-inch pieces of 18-gauge wire and curl the ends.

Draw a face on a third ball with a permanent marker, let the ink dry for 15 minutes, and insert the antennae.

To assemble your bug, poke the craft foam circles and ball pieces in an alternating pattern on a 12-inch wooden skewer. Then top off your skewer with the ball and find a leafy home for your new friend.


Plant Pals

Your indoor gardener may not get your “bad hair day” jokes, but the fun of this grassy-haired friend won’t be lost on him. Like a Chia Pet, the project requires just a sprinkling of seeds, a bit of sun, and a few drops of patience.

Materials

One 9- or 12-ounce plastic cup
1 to 1 1/4 cups of potting soil
1 tablespoon of grass seeds (we bought rye grass at a garden center)
Decorations, such as office dot stickers, markers, and ribbon (for safety, it should measure less than 6 inches long)

Instructions

Fill the cup halfway with soil. Divide the remaining soil in two, then have your child measure the seeds and stir them into one of these halves. Tip: To speed germination, you can first soak the seeds in water overnight.

Spoon the seed-filled soil into the cup, then top it with the remaining soil (this final layer should be about 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep). Water the soil well.

Let your child decorate the cup with stickers and markers. Finally, leave the plant in a warm, sunny spot to sprout. Water as necessary to keep the soil about as wet as a damp sponge.

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