This is a guest post by Annie Riechmann,
the creator and author of Alphabet Glue.
Alphabet Glue is a downloadable magazine for families
who love books. It's full of activities, printables, projects
and inspiration for incorporating all things literary into
your daily routine. She is sharing the Origami Planting
Pots from Volume 6 that is an activity to go-along
with the lovely book, The Gardener .
I first read The Gardener when I came across
it in a Language Arts textbook at a school where I was
teaching. I immediately realized what a treasure the book
was, and found a copy at my local library to share with
my daughter at home. Written by Sarah Stewart and
illustrated by her husband, David Small, The Gardener is
the story of one Lydia Grace Finch, a young country girl,
sent to live with a grumpy uncle in the big city when The
Great Depression brings hard times to her family. Told
through a series of letters to her family back home, Lydia
Grace shares the story of her time in the city, including
her quest to see the dour Uncle Jim smile
before her time with him is over.
Through her letters, the reader learns about the people
that Lydia Grace meets in Uncle Jim’s bakery, as well as
her inspired green thumb, which soon has every cracked
tea cup or empty wooden box in the bakery blooming
with flowers. We also become aware that Lydia Grace has
an imaginative surprise up her sleeve; a final parting gift
for Uncle Jim that is sure to win her the smile
that she has been seeking.
The last few pages of The Gardener abandon
text altogether and are told only through Small’s
expressive illustrations, and his pictures are so perfectly
rendered that Lydia Grace’s magical effect on Uncle Jim is
abundantly clear, even without words. The Gardener is
one of those rare picture books that has something to
offer to readers of all ages, and the book’s final scene
captures my heart each and every time I see it.
Here is a little seed starting project in the spirit
of Lydia Grace and her quest to bring joy to the world
around her. These origami-style paper cups can be filled
with soil, sprinkled with favorite garden seeds and then
planted directly into the ground when the resulting
seedlings are ready for their garden debut. The materials
for this project are humble, to be sure: newsprint,
recycled egg cartons, a bit of garden soil. But, with
proper care, the results are much more remarkable, and
just may get you the kind of smiles that Lydia Grace
was going for when she planted her flower seeds
in every last place she could find.
- newsprint or newspaper, cut into 5 x 5 inch squares
- an empty egg carton
- potting soil
Begin by laying out a square piece of paper. Newsprint or
newspaper works well because it quickly absorbs water
and begins to break down, making it ideal for plant roots
to grow through and for planting into the garden.
Fold the square in half so that it becomes a triangle
like the above. Make sure to match up the corners
and to make a nice, sharp crease at the fold.
Take the point of the triangle on the right hand side
and fold it so that the point lands just a bit above the
middle of the opposite side of the triangle,
as in the picture above.
Now fold the point of the triangle on the left side
across toward the right. The point should land at the
top of the fold that you made in the previous step.
Fold each of the top flaps of the triangle down toward
the flat bottom of the pot. The flap closest to you will
fold forward, fold the flap on the backside of the pot
down toward the back. This will allow you
to open up the pot to fill it.
You should now be able to open up the pot at
the top and fill it with potting soil.
Once the pots have been filled with soil, place them
in an empty egg carton and plant seeds in each one
according to the planting instructions on the seed packet.
You’ll want to make sure that you water your pots
regularly and well, as the paper can dry out more
quickly than a traditional plastic pot.
Once your seedlings have their first set of true leaves,
you can plant them out in the garden. You should be able
to just pop the pots directly into the ground, but if you
like, you can use your fingers to gently tear a hole in
the bottom of each cup to make it easier for
the paper to break down around the roots.
Thank you so much to Annie for sharing this project
that is such a wonderful way to introduce gardening
to children and giving us a peek inside the latest
volume of Alphabet Glue.