Supporters of Education, the Environment and Development Strides…SEEDS.

Enabling us to teach our children in the classroom, outdoors and at home since 1984.

 

Dear Parents, 

We know that this is a particularly challenging time for you as you work with your children to ensure that their elementary education continues as uninterrupted as possible…at home.

The activities that we offer are both fun and educational and can easily tap in to your child’s natural curiosity and creativity. These are also great activities to do as a family:

This week’s fun activity…

COFFEE FILTER BUTTERFLIES

With flowers in bloom, bees, moths, birds, butterflies and other insects will be visiting those plants to feed and pollinate!  
You might see that the insects visiting the flowers can be just as colorful as the flowers.  
Butterflies in particular have a wide variety of colors.  They’re brightly colored to attract friends; some even have colors to act as a warning for birds to stay away! 
 
 For this week’s activity, let’s make our own brightly colored butterfly!
 
Materials:
  • Coffee Filters (2 per butterfly)
  • Washable Markers
  • Fuzzy Stick Pipe Cleaner (1 per butterfly)
  • Spray Bottle or Eyedropper for water
 

Step 1 – Flatten

Lay the coffee filters on a flat surface and flatten them out into a circle.
 

 

Step 2 – Color or Decorate

Using washable markers, decorate your coffee filter circles.  Once your design is complete, we’ll drop water onto the filter to blend the colors together.  
 
Tip: colors next to each other will blend together, so if you don’t want that, leave a bit of uncolored space between your colors.  
 
Also, dark colors will overpower other colors!
 
 
 

Step 3 – Water

When you finish your design, use a spray bottle or eyedropper to lightly mist or apply water to the coffee filter.  
 
You can also wet your fingers and “flick” water on it, or use a small spoon to drop water on the filter.  
 
Put your coffee filters in a shallow pan or on a waterproof plate to contain the colors!
 

Step 4 – Dry

Remove the coffee filters from any water and let them dry. 
You can place them in the sun or put them on top of a paper towel to speed up the drying time.
 

Step 5 – Fold

Fold each of the coffee filters in half, so that you have two half-circles.
 
 

Step 6 – Arrange

Place the coffee filter half-circles so that the curved sides face towards each other.  
 
The flat sides should be at the top and the bottom.
 
 
 
 

Step 7 – Pinch

Pinch and scrunch your coffee filters in the middle to give your wings some texture. 
 
 For a different look, you can also “accordion fold” the filters.  Just remember to fluff your wings when you’re finished!
 
 
 

Step 8 – Tie!

Wrap a fuzzy stick pipe cleaner around the pinched middles of your coffee filters and twist it to secure it to the “wings.”  
 
Leave enough at the top so your butterfly has antennae!
 
 

 

 

FLORAL SUN CATCHER

With Spring flowers in bloom it’s the perfect time to take advantage of nature’s color and make sun catchers! 
 Sun catchers are decorations for our windows that let the sun shine through them to light up in different colors and designs. 
Typically, they’re made with colored glass; we’ll make one using colorful flowers and leaves instead!  
 
 
Materials:
  • Paper Plate
  • Scissors
  • Hole Punch
  • Contact Paper (If you don’t have contact paper, you can use plastic wrap and glue)
  • Plant Parts (flower petals and small leaves)
  • Yarn or String
  • Crayons (optional)
 

Step 1 – Collect

Go out into your yard or take a nature walk in a park or through the neighborhood.  
Along the way, look for leaves and flowers you can collect to use in your sun catchers! 
 
 

Step 2 – Cut

Using scissors, cut out the inner circle of the paper plate.  When finished, you should have a paper plate ring. 
 
The open hole of the plate is to let the sun shine through and light up the plant parts!
 
 

Step 3 – (Optional) Color

Using crayons, markers, pencils, or paint color your paper plate ring!  
Coloring the ring can really show off your sun catcher and make it pop!
 

Step 4 – Cover

Cut out a piece of contact paper and attach it to the paper ring to cover the hole.  The “sticky” side should face towards the paper plate.  
If you do not have contact paper, you can use glue and plastic wrap.  
Carefully cut out a piece of plastic wrap that will cover the hole.  Apply glue around the ring, and attach the plastic wrap.  
Try to keep it as tight as possible!  If you use glue, allow it dry before proceeding to the next step.
 
 

Step 5 – Attach

Using the plant parts you have collected, attach them to the contact paper or plastic wrap.  
 
Sun catchers work best if the plant pieces are thin – so try attaching individual petals instead of the entire flower!  
 
Be creative and have fun with your design!  
 
Tip:  You may need to apply a tiny bit of glue to your plant parts if you are using plastic wrap.  The plant parts may not stay in place otherwise.
 
 
 
 

Step 6 – Seal

To prevent the plant parts from falling out as well as to keep them flat, let’s secure and seal your design with another piece of contact paper.  
 
Cut out another piece that will cover your design.  Place the sticky side down and attach it to your suncatcher, securing it to your original piece of contact paper. 
 
If you are using plastic wrap, once again glue around the ring and attach a piece of plastic wrap to cover your design.
 
 

Step 7 – Punch and Hang!

Using a hole punch, make a hole near the top of the sun catcher in your paper plate ring.  
 
Thread a piece of yarn or string through the hole and use the string to hang your new sun catcher in the window! 
 

 

Watercolor Crayon Leaf Rubbing

Springtime is a perfect time to gather some leaves and examine the shape and textures of different plants.  Leaf rubbings are also a fun way to learn different types of trees and other plants, by matching the shape and style of the leaf to the tree or plant it came from!

 
 
Materials:
  • Leaves (leaves with unique shapes or with prominent veins work very well)
  • Crayons
  • White Paper (copy paper is perfect)
  • Watercolors
  • Paint Brush
 

Step 1 – Find a Leaf

Head outside and find some good leaves to make a rubbing.  
 
Look for unique shapes and large veins, though any leaves will work.  
 
Leaves with large veins provide a better contrast and stand out more as a rubbing.  
 

Step 2 – Cover the Leaf

  • Place the leaf flat on a table or other flat surface.  The underside (vein-side) should face up.  
  • Place a sheet of white copy paper over the leaf.  
  • If you have a delicate, smoother leaf and a light touch, you could also try using tissue paper!
 
 

Step 3 – Rub

Using a crayon, rub over the area of the paper where the leaf is placed.  
 
Rubbing with the side of the crayon will give a different look than using the point.  
 
Try using a white crayon for a really unique look!
 

 

Step 4 – Watercolor

Once you’re done rubbing with the crayon, it’s time to paint!  
 
Use watercolors and paint over your leaf.  The watercolor paint will not stick to the crayon leaf outline, giving your rubbing a special look. 
 
Be careful when painting; since we’re using regular white paper it may easily “rip” by brushing an area too much.  
 
Absorb excess water with paper towels to prevent an accident!
 
 

 

Step 5 – Dry and Admire!

Let your leaf rubbing dry for a bit and admire your work!  
 
The outline of the leaf is contrasted with the watercolors, helping it really stand out and look amazing!
 
 

 

Happy Mother’s Day!  

Let’s have a little fun this week and make some tissue paper flowers for mom!  

Materials:
  • Tissue Paper (at least 3 sheets per flower)
  • Fuzzy stick pipe cleaner (1 per flower)
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Green paper (optional)

Step 1 – Measure and Cut 

Cut 3 (or more) sheets of tissue paper into a 12 inch by 6 inch rectangle.

Tip #1:
If you want a big, bushy flower, use a few more sheets of tissue paper.
Tip #2:
If you want a layered look to your flower cut some tissue paper shorter than 6 inches or cut some wider than 6 inches.

Step 2 – Layer

Layer your tissue paper sheets. 
If you’re using multiple colors, the color on the bottom will be the outside edge of the finished flower.
If you’re using different sized tissue paper, the widest piece should be at the bottom and the shortest piece should be on top. 

Step 3 – Fold

Accordion fold – fold forward and backward – all of the tissue paper sheets.  
Make a fold about every inch.  

Step 4 – Cut

Cut and trim the edges of your accordion folded tissue paper. 
You can round the edges, cut fringe, make a point, or choose any design you want.  
This will form your petal shape in the finished flower!
 
 

Step 5 – Add the Stem

Wrap a fuzzy stick tightly around the middle of the tissue paper. 
To make sure it’s centered try folding the tissue paper in half first, then wrapping the fuzzy stick around the fold.  
The fuzzy stick will form the stem of your finished flower!
 
Tip:  If you don’t have a fuzzy stick, you can wrap floral wire around the tissue paper or even just staple it!
 
 

Step 6 – Open the Folds!

Gently open the folds to form a circle around the stem.  
Spread each half of your tissue paper folds to make each half of the circle.
 

Step 7 – Pull!

Starting with the top layer of tissue paper, gently pull up and separate it from the rest of the folds. 
 
 Repeat this with the other layers of tissue paper, separating each layer from each other.
 

Step 8 – Add Leaves (optional)

Cut out some small leaves on green paper, and glue them to bottom of your flower or directly to your stem! 

 

Let’s make a Rain Chain to learn about

rainwater recycling/water conservation!

Rainy weather teaches how rain water can be re-cycled to work for us and preserve our environment!

Materials:

  • Zip ties
  • Optional Additions:
  • Beads
  • Cookie cutters
  • Small pots
  • Chain
A rain chain can be used as alternative to a gutter downspout, but we can hang this from a tree branch or anywhere else outside where it can collect water!
Step 1 – Form a loop with a zip tie!  
 
Connect the end of the zip tie to the top and tighten slightly until you have the size of the loop you want.
Step 2 – Add on
 
Put another zip tie through your last loop and connect it to form another loop!  
 
 
Step 3 – Optional Creative Ideas
 
To add things to your chain, you can thread beads onto your zip ties, or use the zip ties to connect cookie cutters, tiny terra cotta pots, actual chains, or almost anything else you can imagine!  
 
Let your creativity run wild!
 
 
Step 4
 
Repeat and connect enough zip ties and other items so that it is long enough to reach the ground from where it will hang. 
 
Step 5 –
 
Find a tree branch or other spot outside to hang your rain chain from!
 
 
Step 6 –
Secure it to the
ground!
 
To prevent your chain from moving in the wind, secure it to the ground with some rocks or a stake.  
 
It should be tight from where you hung it to the ground.
 
 
Step 7 –
Watch it when it rains!
 
The rain water will adhere to your chain and travel all the way down your chain to the ground!

 

 

Fossils

A fossil is a trace or record of ancient life. Much of our plant knowledge from the times of the dinosaurs comes from fossils. 
 
Let’s recreate the process of plant fossils with this activity!
  • In order to make fossils, we’ll need two things:
  • air dry clay and
  • a plant part!

If you don’t already have air-dry clay, you can make a simple homemade version!

Homemade Clay Materials:
  • 2 Cups Baking Soda (1 box)
  • Cornstarch
  • Water

Step 1 – Mix

In a pot, mix all three ingredients together.

Step 2 – Heat

Heat the mixture on a stovetop at medium-low to medium heat, stirring constantly.
 
When the mixture looks like mashed potatoes and all the water has been absorbed, remove from heat!

Step 3 – Let It Cool

 
Make a dough ball and wrap it in a damp towel.  
 
Let it cool for about 10-15 minutes.

Step 4 – Knead

 
Knead your dough until it’s smooth and silky.  
 
It’s now ready to use!
 
Keep this clay in an airtight container if you plan on using it later!

Fossil Imprints

Materials:
  • Air-dry Clay
  • Plant Parts

Step 1 – Gather Plant Parts

Head outside and find some small leaves, flowers, or other interesting plant parts in fun shapes!  
 
At this time of year, ferns are just starting to emerge and they make excellent imprints!  
 
Pine branches, birch catkins, even bird feathers work well if you’re feeling adventurous!
 

Step 2 – Make a Clay Cookie

Take a small ball of clay and flatten it to make a cookie shape. 
 
 

Step 3 – Press

 
Take your plant part and press it into the clay cookie. 
 
If you’re using a leaf, press the vein (back) side of the leaf into the clay.
 

Step 4 –

Remove Leaf (optional)

You can remove the leaf or plant part to just have the imprint, or leave the plant part in the clay to decompose and dry out naturally.  
 
It will fall out of the clay imprint just like a natural fossil process!
 

Step 5 – Dry

Let the clay sit for at least 24 hours to dry.  
 
Quick tip: To prevent cracking, loosely wrap the clay in a plastic bag to slow down the drying process!

 

Step 6 (Optional) – Color

Your can color your new fossils with markers or paint for a fun and creative touch!

 

Leaf Pounding

This week: leaf pigments and natural fabric dyes….

  • The different parts of a plant can be found in a surprising variety of colors, from beet red roots, green leaves, blueberries, and yellow flowers.
  • Many of those colors and plant parts have been used historically to color fabric!
  • One technique to transfer color and patterns to fabric is to simply pound and crush the plant parts with a hammer or mallet to separate the plant pigments and transfer them to a piece of fabric. 
  • This activity is a great way to learn about the pigments found in plants.

Materials:

  • Hammer – any small hammer or mallet with a flat metal face (You can also use a small flat rock!)
  • Masking tape
  • Cloth – unbleached cotton muslin works the best; synthetic fabrics will not absorb the dye.  
  • Alternatively, you can also try thicker absorbent paper – like watercolor paper.  
  • Leaves or flowers – Find some leaves or flowers that you want to use!  

Aim for darker leaves; dark green and red transfer very well. 

 Another tip – look for sturdier leaves with prominent veins. Very soft leaves (like most vegetable leaves) won’t hold up as well to being hammered.

 
   
Step 1 – Tape Leaf to Fabric
 
Flatten and tape down your leaf or flower to the fabric.  Completely cover the leaf with tape.

Step 2 – Flip and Place

Flip the fabric over so the tape side is down and set the fabric on a hard flat surface.  A small board would work well, or any other smooth hard surface.
 
 
   

Step 3 – Pound It!

Gently but firmly pound the leaf or flower with your hammer or rock!  
 
You don’t need big swings, just repeated small, firm strikes.  
 
 
Continue pounding until you’re happy with the color transfer!

Step 4 –

Peel Away the Leaf

Once you’re done pounding, flip the fabric over and carefully remove the tape and your leaf from the fabric.  
 
Admire your work!
 

Step 5 (Optional) –

Set the Dye

You can set the dye using a 1:8 vinegar: water solution.  
 
Soak the fabric in the vinegar solution for about an hour, then hand wash and air dry! 
 
If you used paper, try using a spray on acrylic sealant instead! 

 

 

Make some homemade suet for your backyard birds!

Late winter and early Spring are especially tough on some birds as food sources run low.
Nature is still warming up and natural food sources like insects, flowers, and berries aren’t quite ready yet! We’ll make a suet using household ingredients!
Ingredients:
  • 1 Cup Solid Cooking Fat (such as lard, vegetable shortening, coconut oil)
  • 1 cup Peanut or Other Nut Butter (chunky preferred)
  • 3 Cups Cornmeal or Oatmeal
  • 1/2 cups Flour
Optional additions to make your birds even happier!
(Toss a handful of any or all these into the mix)
  • Birdseed
  • Chopped raw unsalted nuts
  • Dried fruits and berries (chopped into small pieces)
  • Dried insects (mealworms)
Directions:
In a large pot on your stovetop, heat the cooking fat and peanut butter on low heat. As the fat and peanut butter melt, mix them together until fully combined. Remove pot from heat, and mix in the flour and cornmeal (or oatmeal).  Once that is fully mixed, now is the time to add in your optional ingredients!
Let your mixture cool slightly and pour into molds or a flat container to use.  You can even fill a hollowed out orange or grapefruit!
 

Convert your toilet paper tubes into biodegradable planters!

Recycle your toilet paper rolls…use the cardboard rolls to make seed starter pots! 

These pots are easy to make, and can be planted directly into the ground outside to naturally decompose – this also prevents root or plant damage when planting your young seedlings!

This is a great project for kids because they can track their new plant’s growth over the next few weeks while the weather warms up to plant it outside! 

 
   

Step 1 Fold!

Fold your toilet paper into a square. Flatten it, then flatten in half the other way to make a square!
 
 
 

Step 2 (for small plants only) Cut in Half!

If you’re planting large seeds – like sunflowers, for example, keep the tube full size to give the new plant lots of room for their large roots. 
For smaller seeds, cut the tube in half!
 
   

Step 3 Cut Flaps!

Cut along the corners on one side.
Using a scissors, cut ¾ inch along each of the 4 corners. You should have 4 cuts on the corners of one side.
 
   

​Step 4 Fold!

Crease and fold the flaps
Fold down each flap to crease it, then fold it cardboard box style (over/under flaps).
 

Step 5 Plant!

Add potting soil and your seeds, give it some water and sun and watch it grow!
Water carefully, remember this is paper/cardboard so too much water will decompose the tube quicker. You want enough water for the seed but not too much that the cardboard starts breaking down.

Make a Sticky Nature Bracelet

 
Take a length of masking or scotch tape and make a large loop around your child’s wrist.  
 
Keep the sticky side out and make the loop large enough so you can remove the bracelet without tearing it!
Go for a walk outdoors… 
 
As you walk, look around and add leaves, flower petals and sticks to your bracelet!  
 
Make a design or just let your creativity flow!

 

Wild Weaving

Create a mosaic and a natural loom using sticks, some yarn, and nature itself!

Step 1 – FIND SOME STICKS!

The easiest way to create your nature loom is by finding a “Y” shaped stick.  
However, you can also lash sticks together to create nearly any shape you want! 
 Try a triangle, rectangle, or even a hexagon!  
To lash sticks together, just overlap the sticks and wrap yarn or string around them in a “x” pattern.
 
 

Step 2 – CREATE THE LOOM

Tie the yarn to one side of the stick and wrap the yarn back and forth to create your loom.  
 
Wrapping the yarn twice around the stick will help prevent the yarn sliding and will also help keep the yarn as taut as possible.
 
 

Step 3 – FIND NATURE ITEMS AND WEAVE!

Go outside into your yard, your neighborhood, or even to a nearby park or nature area.  
 
Collect interesting grasses, leaves, seeds, bark, flowers, or anything else you find on the ground.  
Weave those items through the strings of your loom, in an out between the strings.  
   
Be creative!  
 
The more items you weave, the tighter the strings will become – making it easier to hold bigger items like acorns or pinecones.