Share it! Science : Make the Earth Beautiful with Homemade Seed Paper

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Make the Earth Beautiful with Homemade Seed Paper

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 Happy Earth Day!
Although I do truly believe that we should be practicing Earth friendly behavior each and every day, it is nice to do something special once a year to celebrate our home planet.

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Many of you are probably familiar with the classic picture book Miss Rumphius by Babara Cooney. For those of you who are not, it tells the sweet tale of an adventurous woman who had three missions in life: to go to faraway places, grow old by the sea and, most importantly, make the world more beautiful.

 

Miss Rumphius accomplishes all that she sets out to do and her greatest mission is beautifying the world by spreading lupine seeds. If only each of us did one small thing to make the Earth more beautiful, can you imagine what the planet would be like?

This story is a great launching point for all sorts of Earth Day projects including making your own seed paper. This paper, with seeds woven into it, can be planted in pots or gardens and makes a lovely gift. (Mother's Day is just around the corner folks!)



If you have made recycled paper with your children or students you will find that the process is practically identical. First you'll need to shred some paper. Kids love doing this by hand or you can use paper from an electric shredder. This is a great way to recycle that junk mail!

Shred some paper
Once the paper is shredded, soak it in water for a while, an hour will do, but if you have the luxury of leaving it overnight it will become quite soft. Students can then tear and mush the paper into smaller pieces.
Soak the paper
Put some of the saturated paper in the blender with water to cover. Doing a cup at a time on the "chop" setting does a nice job of making the slurry, or "paper milkshake" that you'll need.



Make the paper slurry
Time to mix in the seeds. I have chosen to use marigold seeds because they are nice and flat and I have a lot of them that I saved from flowers last summer.
Marigold seeds
You can use just about any type of small flat seed in your paper. Mixing and matching can be a nice surprise once the paper is planted. Mix the seeds into the slurry, making sure you can see them throughout the mush. Now to make the paper!

Mix in the seeds
You can go about the next step in one of several ways depending on the space you are working in. The paper slurry needs to be spread out flat on a screen. You can use an old window screen, or you can make your own screens by stapling screening onto picture frames like we did. Paper making kits like this one, that include similar screens are also available for purchase.



We chose to fill the screens outside as it was nice and sunny. We scooped the slurry onto the screen and flatten it as we went. This allowed the excess water to run off quite easily without making a mess inside. The indoor alternative is to squeeze the water out of the slurry with your hands over a sink or container and then pat it down flat on the screening. As long as you have basins or a sink and some newspaper it really is not a huge mess indoors either. The paper needs to be pushed down flat and thin in the screen.
Cover with a thin layer of the recycled paper mixture


The seeds are mixed throughout
A chipmunk came to check out our paper while it was on the deck and left some muddy tracks!
Once the paper is in the screen you'll have to wait a day or two for it to dry thoroughly. Once it is dry you can pull it off the screen and cut into whatever shape you'd like.
The finished product
Add a cute tag and you've got a lovely Earth Day, Mother's Day, or Spring gift. The papers can be planted in the ground, planters or pots. Place them just under the soil, keep moist and you are one step closer to making the world a more beautiful place!!

A nice gift!
How are you celebrating Earth Day? Share in the comments or e-mail us at shareitscience@gmail.com

If you enjoyed this activity, then your kids will love getting a box each month from Green Kid Crafts. Check them out by clicking the image below.



Homegrown Collective

6 comments:

  1. I support teachers of students with significant cognitive impairments. We are preparing an Earth Day units to share with special ed teachers. I would love to use your directions and photos in the adapted instructions I create for students who cannot read. These materials will be shared with teachers at no charge and posted on a resource board for teachers. May I have your permission to use your instructions and photos - of course a link will be included to this post.

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    1. Hello, I'd be happy to work with you on this. Please e-mail me your contact info at shareitscience@gmail.com so we can work out the details.

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  2. Great idea, I think I will try this with my 5yo granddaughter!

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    1. It's a lot of fun! If you do it, let us know how it turned out!

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  3. I did this with our school environmental club last week. They enjoyed it, though since I did it with newspaper it made a yucky looking gray paste. We're going to try again with construction paper scraps I think.

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    1. Yay! I'm glad you tried it. It's a fun activity! I've done it with construction paper scraps from our scrap box before and just be cautioned that if you mix multiple colors, you'll still end up with a dark colored paste, whether it is a brown or gray. If you can split out the colors, you might get a better result, although I haven't tried that. I always figured since the paper was going into the dirt anyway, it didn't matter what color, you can always make it prettier with tags or by cutting it into a fun shape if you're using it for a gift. The point is really the re-purposing of the paper. Glad you stopped by and tried this out!

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