A collection of fun and educational crafts projects.
|Apple People||Make a Terrarium|
|Paper Bags Baskets||Make a Bird Blind|
|Stained Glass Leaf Pictures||Spring Gardening|
|Plimsoll Lines||Bird in a Cage|
Once a terrarium is established it becomes it's own self-sufficient world. The plants renew the air and give off water vapor through "transpiration,"
water collects as condensation on the glass and runs back down into the moss, starting the whole process over again. (The water cycle is a good discussion topic once your terrarium becomes established.)
Select a clear glass container with an opening wide enough to admit your hand. Mayonnaise jars, fish tanks, etc. may be used. Thick glass or patterned glass will distort the view into the terrarium, so choose the thinnest glass that you feel is safe to use. Place a layer of moss, fairly thick, green side out, around the bottom and lower third of the terrarium so the soil will not show through. Then put down a sparse but chunky layer of gravel or pieces from broken clay pots and a small handful of charcoal pieces (someone might enjoy the smashing of a briquette or two in a paper bag).
Look over your plant material and decide on a design - high here, low over there - with a little path or a small pond down in front. Encourage creativity! Place the tallest plants first, add soil as necessary to hold them in place, but not too much soil. The container will fill quickly and you don't want too much growth in such a restricted space. When the major plants are in, fill around them with smaller plants and moss. You can fold and break large sections of moss or cut them with a knife in curving lines. They will merge together and blend nicely in a very short time. Pass around a magnifying glass while you work. It will make working with tiny plants more entertaining for the kids as well as adults. Tiny rounded stones or cut-up pine needles can be used to make a woodland path. A mirror pond can be placed directly on the soil, and bring moss right up to the edges. A real pond for amphibians can be just a small measuring cup sunk to moss level. Use "logs" (twigs or bark) or miniature animals, but not too many items to avoid a cluttered look.
When finished, spray the plants with water. Then go over the glass lightly with a damp sponge and a dry tissue to leave it clean. Cover the terrarium with a piece of clear plastic food wrap or a piece of window glass, well sanded around the edges. Add a thin piece of red or green velvet at the neck for a dressy touch. If the cover mists up almost immediately, a heavy mist you can hardly see through, take the top off for several hours to let the terrarium dry out a little. A light, barely visible mist with an occasional drop trickling down is ideal. If no mist forms, add 1/4 cup of water. Once you have hit a balance, the terrarium will thrive and grow without much further help.
If you have amphibians living in your terrarium, you can leave it uncovered all the time and water more often, or, if they are the type that might escape, cover the terrarium with a circle of fine screening that has been pressed into a snug fit and tied in place with a ribbon.
Every week or so, check to see if the mist is still forming. Is the soil dry? How do the plants look? Add a tablespoon of water at a time over a period of several hours until the proper balance is achieved. Trim growing plants with scissors if they become overgrown, and enjoy!
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Place a few leaves in nice arrangement between clear sheets of contact paper. These "stained glass" pieces look nice taped on windows, so sunlight can shine through. Or, place your leaves between two pieces of waxed paper. Lay a piece of newpaper over the waxed paper. Press gently with a warm steam iron. Trim the edges and glue the construction paper strips around the edges as a frame.
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Glue assorted seeds to cardboard to make beautiful mosaics. Sort the seeds by type first, then spread a little glue to a small area of the cardboard. Set seeds into the glue to create your own arrangement. Abstracts or nature scenes are wonderful using this method!
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|peeled apples||string, craft stick or wire|
|jar||lemon juice/salt mix|
|paints||seeds, cloves, beads, etc.|
|pipe cleaners||long-necked bottles|
Use any kind of apple. Keep the surface as smooth as possible while peeling. Use a knife (or spoon) to carve out features. The apple will shrink and wrinkle as it dies, so the face will look very different from the one you carve into the apple. Make wrinkle lines by cutting across the apple "forehead." After carving your face, paint with a mix of the juice and salt. This will bleach the skin color. You can attach a string, push wire or a craft stick into the apple and let it stand in a short jar. Put it in a warm place for about 3 weeks. When it is dry, paint it with tempura or watercolor paints. Rouge the cheeks with powder blush or leave as is. Stick something dark into the sockets for eyes. Use cloves, beads, seeds, etc. A mouth can show a row of teeth using rice or tiny pearls, or corn. Glue them in place inside the mouth opening. Use apple slices for hands a feet, and carve them a little. Let dry just as you did the head. You may glue the head to a bottle "body," or use wire to shape a body. Wrap strips of soft cloth over the wire to build it up a little. Cut and glue cloth onto the body to create the clothing, and make a stand for your figure from a block of wood.
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Of course, reusing paper bags or using canvas bags to shop is the best way to help reduce waste. But if you find yourself with an abundance of paper bags, here's a nice craft:
Roll down the edges of a bag, leaving a couple of inches at the bottom that isn't rolled up. Stand the second bag inside the first rolled-up bag and roll down its edges. Do the same with a third bag, so that you have three coils, one on top of the other.
Cut the bottom out of your fourth bag, BUT DON'T CUT THE SIDES! Roll the sides to make a round coil, then slip it around your 3-bag-basket to make a nice handle. Put the cut the edge of the handle on the inside. Thread a needle with a long piece of yarn and tie a knot in one end. Loop and stitch the yarn around each coil to hold it in place. Stitch in your own design, and use several pieces of yarn of various colors.
Use your basket to give away home-baked cookies or a plant, or use it yourself for various personal items.
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All of the energy we use, whether it's the energy we use to run around a park or the wood we burn to roast marshmallows, originally came from the sun. Plants use "photosynthesis" to convert the sun's energy into food for plants. "Photosynthesis" means "building with light," which is just what plants do. Plants get their green color from a substance called chlorophyll, which captures energy from sunlight and then uses carbon dioxide from the air and nutrients from soil to make food. While making that food for itself, the plant releases oxygen, which we breathe, into the atmosphere. All of the food you eat comes from plants, whether you are eating vegetables or a piece of meat (remember that the animals people eat are fed grains and other plants). Your body turns that food into energy for running, jumping, riding your bike and just plain ol' living. Even the petroleum and coal that provides energy for all kinds of machinery originally came from plants. Using the sun's power without first going through plants is called "solar power," and you can use solar power to cut down on pollution. Hanging laundry outside to dry is one way to use solar power. Can you think of others?
Use solar power to help you create a picture. Use small objects such as leaves, buttons, seeds, feathers, etc., to make a sun print. Or cut letters out of paper to create messages. Use construction paper, which works best in midday sun on a day without any breeze. Place your objects on a piece of dark-colored paper, hold the letters down with small rocks and leave the paper in the sun for 4 to 5 hours. Solar power will create the design for you!
John Klobas, one of the leaders of the March Pee Wee Audubon Spring Bird Walk, recommends a book with artistic renderings over a book with photographs. He feels that a photograph is limiting, that is it only takes a picture of that particular bird at that particular second in its life. A rendering is done after viewings of several of the same species of birds and gives a much broader range of the differences possible in individual members of the same species.
A few hints for Spring gardening that will not harm the environment:
1. Put plants that naturally protect each other in the same environment (see "beneficial plants" at the library or a local bookseller, or try "organic gardening" as a topic).
2. Use compost instead of fertilizer.
3. Make an organic insect spray to use instead of a commercial, chemical-filled one. For example, crush 5 gloves garlic. Add 1/4 cup crushed red chilies and 1 quart warm water. Let the mixture brew, like tea, but for 24 hours. Spray plants with solution. You will have to use this insect spray more often than you would a pesticide.
4. Introduce beneficial insects into your garden such as lady bugs Beneficial insects may be purchased through mail order catalogues, at Home Depot, or see "beneficial plants" at the library to find out about plants that atttract beneficial insects.
Plimsoll lines are the lines you see on the outside of cargo boats. They are named after Samuel Plimsoll, the man who convinced everyone to use them. What are they used for? Well the lines are to tell the crew of cargo boats to stop adding cargo whenever the water reaches a specified Plimsoll line. And the lines may vary depending upon the sailing conditions. Next time you see a freighter up close, check out the Plimsoll lines and you may see these symbols:
AB = the official load line set by the American Bureau of Shipping.
TF = Tropical Fresh Water
F = Fresh Water
T = Tropical Seas
S = Summer Seas
W = Winter Seas
WNA = Winter, North Atlantic
Now, why would it matter if the ship sailed in salt or fresh water, or what temperature the water is? Hint: Salt water weighs more than fresh, per cubic foot. Cold water is denser and therefor heavier than warm water. As a result, cold salt water weighs most of all and will support more weight. The water of the North Atlantic is very cold and the saltiest of all the commonly sailed oceans, so it is capable of supporting more weight per cubic foot than most other areas of the sea and large rivers. Make your own ships and draw your own Plimsoll lines, varying the temperature of the water in which you sail and the salinity (salt content). Ships may be made of modeling clay, balsa wood, plastic, foil-covered cardboard. Bon Voyage!
You will need:
*A balloon (not for small children, extreme choking hazard)
*Sequins, feathers, beads, glitter, etc.
* Colored construction paper
* Paper hole punch
Blow up and knot the balloon. Dip the string in white glue and wrap it around the ballon. Continue wrapping, running the string over other pieces until it looks like a cage. Let it dry. Draw and cut out your bird. Add different colored feathers, sequins, feathers, whatever you wish. Punch a hole in the top. Pop the balloon when it is dry, and pull the pieces out of the "cage." Make sure the string is absolutely dry before you do this! Hang your bird inside by a string.
You will need:
*Old pieces of crayons, broken up
* Paper cupcake liners
* Muffin tins
Melt all the similar colors together, then pour into the paper liners and cool. Different colors may be layered over one another, letting each layer cool before adding another color, creating 2 and 3 layers in one cookie. Or, after the paper lines is about 1/2" full of melted crayon way, drop in broken bits of unmelted crayon. The melt a little and become part of the solid "cookie" when it cools.