SKILLS: Children use fine motor, creative-thinking, and problem-solving skills to create gifts using wildflowers.
- small wildflowers and grasses (even dandelions look great)
- dried flowers (optional)
- small pieces of colored tissue paper
- self-adhesive clear vinyl
IN ADVANCE: Talk about the flowers that are starting to come up. What have children noticed around their homes or the school? Even the most crowded city areas will have some planted flowers and a lot of beautiful weeds growing at the same time. Talk about the places flowers grow. What do the plants need to grow? (Some plants don't need much and can survive in a crack in the sidewalk.)
1 Bring a table outside along with the flowers and other materials needed to make gifts. (You can take a walk with your children to collect additional flowers if some are nearby.)
2 Cut the clear contact paper into wide strips. Help children peel off the backing. Invite them to place strips lengthwise in front of them, with the sticky side facing up.
3 Next, ask children to place flowers and grasses on the bottom half of the sticky vinyl. Encourage them to add torn pieces of colored tissue paper. Invite them to add glitter around the design. Last, show children how to fold the top half of the vinyl down over the bottom half and press in place. Later, you can use a pin to prick any bubbles that may form.
4 Use the final products for presents. The pressed flower designs can be cut into strips for bookmarks, free-form shapes for window pictures, or large rectangles or ovals for place mats.
For younger children: This activity may be difficult for young children who are still developing fine motor coordination. You might want to let children examine the different flowers and grasses, talk about their similarities and differences, and glue them onto construction paper to create lovely nature pictures. Children can add to these creations with crayon or paint.
For older children: Encourage children to imagine settings where these wildflowers and grasses may have grown. Then print children's dictated stories about the histories and homes of these beautiful objects of nature.
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert (Harcourt Brace, 2003; $6.95)
Seeds Grow! by Angela Shelf Medearis (Cartwheel Books, 2000; $3.99)
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle (Simon & Schuster, 2005; $7.99)