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.
Materials: - newsprint or newspaper, cut into 5 x 5 inch squares - an empty egg carton - potting soil - seeds
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.