Friday, April 3, 2015
By: Nicole Swannack
Southern New Hampshire Kids
Spring has been highly anticipated in my home for several weeks. So, you can imagine how excited my little ones have been to hear the birds chirping in our backyard, and to see the grass again! It won’t be long until the flowers start to bud, and we will be able to fully embrace the season’s beautiful weather. To welcome spring and hasten the arrival of milder temperatures, the kids and I have been busy with some gardening and recycling crafts and activities. We’ve had a great time beautifying and repurposing our home’s recyclables. Here are some of my and my kid’s favorite activities to help get you into that spring spirit! Enjoy!
To kick off our spring gardening the kids and I made some plantable paper. It is a fun twist on planting a seed, and the end product is really beautiful. You will need to gather some seeds, paper (you could use construction paper, copy paper, or newspaper), water, a cookie cutter, wax paper, two dishtowels, and a blender. Tear your paper into 1-2 inch pieces. Place the paper in a small bowl, and add warm water. Let the paper soak in the warm water for a few minutes. Then place the paper into your blender, cover it with water, and blend until you have a paste. Remove the paste from the blender, placing it back into your bowl. Gently mix seeds into your paper paste. Lay a dish towel out onto a flat surface and place the cookie cutter on top of the towel. Layer the paper paste at the bottom of the cookie cutter, making sure that you have even coverage. Use another towel to firmly press down onto the paste and absorb excess water. Carefully remove the cookie cutter and transfer your homemade paper onto the piece of wax paper. Continue to gently blot your paper to remove excess water. Let your paper dry overnight. When you’re ready, plant the paper in soil, and watch the seeds grow!
Recycled milk cartons can be easily repurposed to make great containers for your art supplies. You will need empty milk cartons, scissors, chalkboard paint, and chalk. Begin by cleaning and drying your cartons. You can use any type of carton, including milk, half and half, and juice, to name a few. In fact, having cartons of different heights and widths will make your finished product more interesting! When your cartons are clean and dry, cut the tops off. Spray your cartons entirely (on the inside and out) with chalkboard paint and let them dry completely. When your paint has dried, use chalk to decorate your new containers–this is where you can really let those creative juices flow! Fill your recycled containers with whatever your heart desires. I am using mine to hold my children’s crayons, rulers, and scissors. The kids love their new supply containers. I have a feeling my chalk creations will soon be replaced by theirs–but that’s the beauty of chalkboard paint. The kids can create and recreate as many times as they like!
As the weather warms, I’ve begun to see more and more birds in my backyard! What better way to welcome back spring and my feathered friends than to make a recycled bird feeder. This bird feeder is simple to make and will give you well fed and happy birds. To make your bird feeder, you will need a large plastic peanut butter jar, 1/4″ wooden dowel, bird seed, a drill, scissors and wire for hanging the feeder. Begin by removing any labels from your jar. Then use a permanent marker to sketch out two feeding holes (that are roughly the size of a half dollar) and cut the holes out with your scissors. Next, create your bird perch by drilling two holes into opposite sides of your peanut butter jar (each hole should be exactly opposite from the other and slightly below your feeding holes). Thread your wooden dowel through the holes. Remove your lid from your peanut butter jar, and set the jar aside. Drill a small hole into the center of your lid. String the wire through the hole and knot it to keep it in place. Fill your new bird feeder with seed and screw on the lid. Your bird feeder is now ready to hang on your favorite tree. Sit back and watch as your feathered friends enjoy the meal you’ve left for them!
This has made it onto the list of my children’s top ten favorite art projects ever! They absolutely love these little bottle cap magnets and have been having a ball playing with them on our fridge. To make bottle cap magnets you will need plastic and/or metal bottle caps, acrylic paint, paint brushes, foam, large round magnets, scissors and a hot glue gun. First, paint your bottle caps with acrylic paint. While you’re waiting for your paint to dry, cut wings, legs, arms, heads, tails and petals out of your colored foam pieces. When the paint is fully dry, glue your foam pieces to the bottle caps. Depending on your bottle cap design, either glue a magnet onto the back of the bottle cap by placing glue around the edges of the cap and then firmly pressing the magnet down, or glue a magnet onto the foam. One of the things that I like best about this project is that there is no limit to the different types of animals, bugs, and flowers you can create. You can use the magnet pictures provided here for inspiration, or create your own bugs and animals! When you are finished, you will be able to use your magnets to hold those precious masterpieces the kids bring home from school, or let the kids have some fun playing with them!
Creating a “can herb garden” for your kitchen allows you to add some green to your home while recycling your cans! To make these herb planters you will need cans, herb plants or seeds, potting soil, a hammer and nail, acrylic paint, rocks, popsicle sticks, paper, scissors, and glue. Begin by cleaning the cans thoroughly and removing any labels or paper. Use a hammer and nail to poke 3-4 holes into the bottom of each can (this will allow your plants to drain). Then comes the fun part–painting the cans! What I love about this project is that your new planters are 100% customizable to fit your kitchen and taste. So, pick your favorite colors and get creative! When the paint has dried completely, put a layer of rocks along the bottom of each can. Then use your potting soil to plant your seeds or herb plants. If you’re still feeling crafty, you can create plant labels by printing out the names of your herbs on paper and adhering the paper to popsicle sticks.