Thursday, March 20, 2014

Gardening with children 2

Sorry for having been away so long , but I have been incredibly busy . However here I am back the first day of spring and I want to share with you another gardening experience . I think it is really fun for kids to learn how to grow flowers , vegetables and more . I had a post about gardening with kids back in 2012 . Feel free to check it out . Anyway , here I am , two years later trying to grow more plants . And I want you to feel free to try your own experience with your children or your students .

I live in Southern California and winter was pretty mild this year . So I decided to start planting my "garden" at the end of February , beginning of March . We do have squirrels digging holes in our yard and most of the time they are successful in destroying whatever I try to plant . So this year I am trying to outsmart them by planting things huge planters ;)

Grade level : If doing that with your own children , you can start with toddlers . You would be amazed to see how helpful they are to water the plant and how excited they get to see something grow ! If you are a teacher you can start with kindergartners and up .

Materials needed : You will need :
                                  * planters (if you plant in containers like I do ) of different sizes
                                  * blackboard paint
                                  * painter's tape
                                  * chalks
                                  * little shovel
                                  * garden soil (you can easily find that at stores like Home Depot)
                                  * seeds

Activity : The first thing you want to do , is look at your planters and make sure they have holes to properly drained the water . I have a few huge containers that are actually not planters but that I am using as such . So I had to carefully drill some holes in them . (This is the work of an adult , not a child ! For safety reason !)

Then I put some painter tape and used the blackboard paint to fill a rectangular shape . This will allow me to write with a chalk what I will plant .

Here is an example of one finished :

And some regular planters ...

You can let the children write on those planters or draw what will be inside :)

Now you will need to help the children add garden soil to their pots and planters . Fill them up , add the seeds of you choice and water them ... You will need to check them everyday and water them as needed . However try to refrain from overwatering your plants , as it is one of the most common mistake people make .

Here is what I planted in my garden : herbs , vegetables and flowers . We also have two fruit trees that I will show you .

Herbs : Here are the herbs that I tried to plant : cilantro , dill , sweet basil , parsley , thyme , oregano and spearmint .
              (1) Cilantro : I love to plant cilantro . My teenage kid loves Mexican food and he makes delicious Salsa using fresh cilantro .

              (2) Dill : I planted some dill . My husband and my kid both love it on baked potatoes or on mashed potatoes . The best part is that it is extremely easy to grow !!!

               (3) Sweet basil : Basil is also fairly easy to grow . It adds great flavors to pasta , gnocchi , pizza and much more . Mine is just beginning to grow .

             (4) Parsley : I always like to have some parsley . When it grows , it grows very well . It is good to add to fried potatoes ....but also in my favorite ham croissants . I haven't taken any picture of my parsley yet . 

I also tried to plant some thyme and oregano for the first time . We will see if I am successful with those . I tried spearmint again this year , but it seems that I never have  any luck with this herb :(

Vegetables : Whenever I try to get my garden going , I always plant tomatoes , because they are extremely easy to grow and they taste so much better than the one at the store .But this year , I was seeing big ....and I wanted to try to plant more vegetables and see what I could grow . 

              (1) Tomatoes : as I said that is the easiest vegetable to grow . I never buy any tomato seeds , but rather use the seeds of another tomato . It never fail ! I planted grape tomatoes .

            (2) Radishes : Another vegetable that seemed to be easy to grow when I was a kid were radishes . So I tried ...and they were the first vegetable to grow .

              (3) Zucchini : Zucchini or Italian squash seemed another good choice to try . 

          (4) Green beans : I love green beans and it gives a lot of vegetables by plants ...So I had to give it a try .

           (5) Spinach : It tastes so good cooked or in salad :) It is just starting to grow .

              (6) Peas : Green peas ,,,here is another plant giving lots of vegetables .

          (7) Onion : I also planted for the first time some kind of green onions .

I also gave a try to yellow squash , carrots , lettuce , and Brussel sprouts ...but I haven't gotten any luck with any of those yet , We will see what happens .

Trees : We have two fruit trees in our yard : an alrgerian mandarin tree and a dwarf lemon tree . They are growing slowly .

           (1) Mandarin tree: We add some chicken manure every year in the spring . The flowers of this tree smell so good !

             (2) Dwarf lemon tree : Our dwarf lemon tree is considerably younger ,but I saw it grow in size this year :)

Flowers : And of course , a garden has to have flowers ! I haven't had much luck with those this year . As I said we have squirrels in our yard and they tend to dig holes and destroy this area where I plant my flowers . Unlike the herbs and vegetables , I try to plant the flowers directly in the ground .

          (1) Nasturtium : It is starting to grow . It likes a drier environment .

          (2) Mammoth sunflowers :  Only one of the seed I planted seem to grow ...and it seems that some insect may be eating their leaves :( We'll see what happens .

           (3) Sunflowers: Earlier during the year I had planted some smaller sunflowers in a planter on my porch . And those ones look just stunning !

I am still waiting to see if any other flowers I planted will grow ....

Garden creatures : Of course when you garden , it will bring some creatures , some good , some not as good .

Here is a little snail after a rainy day :

And here is the little guy who is keeping me company whenever I go check my plants  :)

I hope you enjoyed this post and you will start growing your own garden. In the meantime ,  will try to keep mine alive and if I do , I will write another post later with more picture .

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year !

Just want to wish everyone a very happy and very creative New Year !

My little new year resolutions doodle …
WIsh you all a Happy New Year ! Hope it will be filled with joy , happiness and success :)

I will try to be back soon with a new project :)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Felt Christmas tree ornament

Today I decided to show you how to make a Christmas tree ornament with felt and buttons . This is something that you can do with your children during the holiday break ....or in the classroom , if your school allows you to do Christmas crafts .

Grade level : This craft is for older kids . I would say children from 3rd grade and older . You have to make sure that the child is old enough to handle a needle and the child does not put thing into his/her mouth ...since we will use buttons (and that could cause a choking hazard !)

Objective : To learn how to sew and create something 3D for the Holiday Season .

Resources : You can find plenty of Youtube video on how to make Christmas ornaments or to learn how to sew . Just remember to ALWAYS respect the work of others and mention their link and credit . For this project I will refer you to a couple of video tutorials .I will mention them as we go along .

Materials : For this particular project , you will need :
                   * Green and brown felt
                   * Buttons of different sizes and colors
                   * A thin ribbon
                   * Scissors
                   * Floss
                   * A needle
                   * Fiberfill

Activity :  (1) The first thing your kid should do is to cut the felt . You can do that two different ways . Either have 1 piece of green felt (cut in a wide triangle shape that you will later fold in half) and 1 small rectangle of brown felt like this :

Or , you can have TWO green triangles and one brown rectangle if it is easier for you . Just like this :

Whatever is easier for you .

(2) The second step will be to sew the buttons (= Christmas ornaments ) on the green piece of felt . If you are using only ONE green triangle , you will have to remember that you will need to fold it make sure that you are not sewing buttons on the fold .Now you will have something like this :

(3) With a blanket stitch , you will now start sewing the trunk . If you do not know how to make a blanket stitch you should look at this Blanket Stitch Tutorial video by GulfCoastCottage on Youtube .
You need to sew 3 side of the trunk . When you finished the third side , you will need to add a little bit of fiberfill inside. Then you are ready to finish your last side . And ...tada ...

(4) Now you will have to do the same with the green piece of felt . However it is going to be a little more tricky . If you have TWO felt triangles , sew the two sides with a blanket stitch , but leave the base open . If you have ONE triangle , sew one side ...and leave the base open . Just like in this example :

Add some fiberfill .Then visualize where the trunk will be ....

Now start sewing the base with your blanket stitch . When you arrive at the trunk , you may make a back stitch If you do not know how to make a back stitch you may watch this Youtube video : How To Sew A Back Stitch-Beginners Hand Sewing & Embroidery DIY by StyleIconsCloset .If your needle is not sharp enough to go through or if it is too hard for your child to do it , you can go around using your imagination and come up with your own stitch or use glue .

(4) Add the ribbon at the top of your ornament that :

Tie it at the top ... and now your ornament is ready to be hung on your Christmas tree . Hope you had fun making it . Have a happy and safe Holiday Season :)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Papier Mâché Bears (part 2)

Let's continue the lesson on our bears in papier mâché .We made the bears and we painted them in white acrylic paint . Today we are going to bring our little bears to life by adding some details .

Material needed :  For this part of the project , we will need :
                                     * a pencil # 2
                                     * acrylic paint of various colors 
                                     * small plastic cups fill with water 
                                     * paintbrushes of different sizes 
                                     * paper towels 
                                     * pictures of different kind of bears
                                     * matte varnish (optional)

Activity :
(1) Each student will have to think of what kind of bear they want . A brown bear , a polar bear , a panda bear ? Once they choose the bear , they will also need to decide what kind of details to add (like eyes , nose , mouth , etc...) Will the bear have some form of clothing , like a scarf ? A shirt ?

(2) Now it is time for the student to draw the details on the bear with the pencil .

(3) Once the student likes what he/she sees , he/she is ready to start painting over the pencil and bring their bear to life .Below are a few examples .

A panda bear :

Polar bears :

A brown bear :

(4) Finish by adding some matte varnish . And here we are all done . Aren't they cute ?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Papier Mâché Bears (part 1)

I would like to introduce a new art lesson for the beginning of the school year . Some teachers (especially kindergarten teachers ) like to start the year with a unit on bears. If you are one of them , or if you are planning to read the book "Brown Bear, Brown Bear , What Do You See ?" by Eric Carle , or any other book about bears ....then this lesson may be a fun activity to go along with . We are going to make some bears in papier mâché .

Grade level: You can do that with any grade . If you have younger students , you may want to have a helper in your classroom . Older students may add more details on their project .

Objective : To create a 3D sculpture . It is always nice to explore new art form that goes beyond a piece of paper .

Resources : You can find plenty of resources online , starting with information on papier mâché , as well as different projects . You will even find different recipes on how to make your papier mâché paste . Just look around and choose what you need for your lesson . Just remember to always name your source !

Definition : What is papier mâché ? "Papier mâché" means "chewed paper" in French . But obviously you are not going to ask your students to chew newspaper pieces  ;) Something made out of papier mâché is something made out of paper pieces (usually newspaper) glue together with a special paste . This paste can be a special glue , wallpaper paste or some flour mixture . I usually choose the last one as it is the most affordable and it does the job really well .
When you make papier mâché , you usually use a "base" like a balloon , chicken wires or aluminium foil . You cover this base with strips of newspaper soaked in papier mâché paste . You make several coats of this and let it dry slowly . You will then paint over it to make your piece look nicer .

Material needed :  For this project we will need the following :

                            * newspapers . (It is a good idea to ask your students to bring newspapers a few weeks prior to the project .If you do this at the beginning of the year you may save newspapers during the summer or use leftovers of last year supply)
                            * aluminium foil
                            * masking tape
                            * scissors
                            * cardboards
                            * papier mâché paste (see recipe)
                            * white glue
                            * toothpicks
                            * small bowl (one per student where they will have their papier mâché mixture)
                            * white acrylic paint
                            * paintbrushes and small plastic cups

Papier mâché paste recipe : To make papier mâché paste is really easy and inexpensive ! You will find most ingredients in your pantry closet as they are : flour , water and salt . To see the step-by-step recipe click here.

Activity : (1) Have students cut with their fingers (no need for scissors here ) small strips of newspaper .(We do not need big strips as we are doing a rather small project .)
               (2) Each student should have two pieces of aluminium foil . One small that they will shape as a ball (that will become the head of their bear) and another slightly bigger . It will be shaped as an oval (it will become the body ). Each student should roll those two pieces on their desk until they become smooth . Make sure that the oval piece has a flat bottom (so it can stand straight ).

              (3) Add a toothpick to the body :

              (4) Add some white glue to the toothpick and to the top of the oval shape . Add the head :

              (5) Give each student four small additional pieces of aluminium foil . Two bigger pieces that they will roll on their desk in their length (like if they were making a worm with play dough ). They will become the arms of the bear .And two tiny pieces that will be shapes like balls and will be the feet . Make each piece smooth , by rolling them on the desk .Here is what you will get :

               (6) Now your students will need to cover all those six pieces (the head and body , the two arms and the two feet ) with newspaper .To accomplish that they should take one piece of newspaper strip at a time , dip it in the papier mâché mixture , gently squeeze the extra paste and cover the head . They should keep doing this step until the entire bear is covered .They should start from the top of the bear ....and work their way to the bottom it make it easier that way.

So your students should have cover the entire body , the two arms and the two feet . Let it dry . Apply a second coat of newspaper soaked in paste . Let it dry .

               (7) Now they will have to attach the arms and the feet to the body somehow . That is pretty simple actually . Let's start with the arms . Attach each arm with a couple of piece of masking tape to the back of the body , just like that :

Don't worry about aesthetics right now ....the tape will soon be covered up with newspaper :)

               (8) The feet are a little more trickier . If you have young students , you and your helper may want to do this .You will need to break a toothpick in a smaller piece and insert it into the foot , like this :

 Add a little bit of white glue and insert the toothpick inside the body now it will look like this :

Follow the exact same step for the second foot :

               (9) Because you do not want the arms and the feet to come off , your students will have to apply some newspaper  dipped in papier mâché paste and cover the back of the arms and the feet .This way they will make sure they are all well attached to the body .

As you can see , the feet are now firmly secured and the tape (from) the arms are no longer visible :

               (10) Now is time to make the ears . This is quite easy .Have your students grab a small piece of cardboard and draw two half circles on it .

                 (11) They should cut them with scissors and attach them to the head of their bear . For that they will need once again a little bit of masking tape (one on each side of the ear ) :

And once again ask your students to cover the ears with small pieces of newspaper dipped in papier mâché paste .

Each bear should now look like this :

  Let them dry overnight !

          (12) The following day , each student will be able to paint some white acrylic paint over the newspaper , starting from the top and working their way to the bottom :

Each students should apply two coats of white acrylic paint . The bears should now look like this :

Here ! We are done for now ! The bears will have to dry . In the next lesson the students will give the bears their personality by painting them with acrylic paints  :)