Thursday, April 22, 2010

Celebrate Earth Day

This project not only recycles, it creates new life, and is a great Earth Day craft.

What you'll need:
-Empty aluminum can
-Screwdriver and hammer
-Liquid gesso (Liquid gesso is an acrylic undercoat primer formulated for use on raw canvas and other surfaces to seal and provide a slight "tooth" for acrylic and other paint media. Permanent and water-resistant when dry.) Available at your local craft store.
-Acrylic craft paints in colors of your choice
-Acrylic sealer spray, matte finish
-Craft stick
-Thin cardboard
-Pinking shears
-Black permanent marker
-5 to 10 small rocks, stones or pebbles
-1.5 cups potting soil
-4 inch potted herb plant
-White craft glue
-Flower stickers (optional)

How to make it:
1. Completely wash and dry aluminum can. If necessary, sand off any rough edges from opening of can.
2. Turn can upside down. Parent should use screwdriver or other pointed object to poke holes in the bottom of the can. Use a hammer to tap the end of the screwdriver to make the holes.
3. Paint outside of can with one coat of gesso. Let dry completely.
4. Paint can in the desired color, repeat coats if needed.
5. Decorate however you like. Use a thin paint brush for long lines, dip the end of the paint brush into paint for polka dots.
6. Decorate with stickers if desired.
7. In a well-ventilated area, spray the outside of the completed can with acrylic sealer spray. Let dry.
8. Place enough rocks or pebbles in the bottom of the can to form a single layer.
9. Add enough potting soil to fill the can two-thirds full.
10. Remove potted herb from its container and transplant into the can.
11. Fill edges with remaining potting soil, gently pat down so that plant is firmly in the can but not compacted so much that it's too tight.
12. Place can on a plate (to catch any water drainage) and add some water to the newly planted herbs.
13. Paint craft stick whatever color you like. Allow to dry.
14. Cut a piece of thin cardboard into a small rectangle (about 1.5 x 3 inches) using pinking shears.
15. Paint both sides of the cardboard with gesso, let dry.
16. Glue the rectangle to the top of the craft stick.
17. Use a black permanent marker to write the herb name onto the rectangle.
18. Insert your plant maker into the soil, being careful not to crush any roots along the way.
19. Place your new garden in a sunny window and remember to water them!

-A 4 inch potted plant will be enough to make 2-3 vegetable sized cans (15 oz) or one larger tomato sauce type can (28 oz).
-This is a great project to teach kids about growing plants, especially edible ones.
-Keep the kids involved, be sure they take care of "their" plant. Have them water their plant and show them how to check to see if the soil is too dry or just right by gently touching the soil surface with their finger.

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