Thursday, April 21, 2016

Aaron's Earth Day gift to his classmates! Let the wildflowers bloom!

I know I've shared before how my children love Earth Day, and they love crafts!
 Especially my youngest son Aaron.  He's the resident artist.  You could buy him crayons, tablets, paints, anything artsy, during every shopping trip and he'd be perfectly happy.

Well for Earth Day, after having made recycled paper with their Bill Nye kit, he decided he wanted to make it for his class.  Then we read you could add flower seeds into it!
So that's what we did.  They simply have to plant the biodegradable paper, keep it moist, and watch it grow! 
We printed out a cute quote from "The Lorax" with planting instructions and put it all in a ziplock bag.  He will hand it out on Earth Day!

You can easily make recycled paper.  Just Google "easy paper making" or something similar.  You really don't need much.

And it's a cheap craft!  

Essentially you need:
Paper [newspaper, tissue paper, construction paper, copy paper]
Big bowl

food coloring [optional]
screen deckle [generally some screen, stapled onto 4 pieces of wood trim or something similar]
Rolling pin

You soak torn up pieces of paper in a big bowl of water 4-6 hours.
Take the mixture, pour it in the blender until it forms a slurry.
Fill your kitchen sink with enough water to cover the screen deckle. 
Put the deckle in the water.
Add some of the slurry until it covers the deckle, but not too thick.
Bring up the deckle out of water, let it drain as much water as you can.
Set the deckle on a towel.
Take a piece of felt the size of the deckle, and cover it.
Place a towel on top of it and push out as much water as you can with your hands.
Take the deckle, turn it over, and lightly tap the screen to get the paper mixture to pop off.
Place the paper mixture on top of the felt, add another piece of felt on top of that, and then the towel on top of that.
Take the rolling pin and roll over the paper hard to get as much more water out as possible.

Lay the paper flat on a tray to dry.
You can dry it outside in the sun or put it in a low temp oven [150-170 degrees] for 20-60 minutes or enough to get the majority of the dampness out.  Then let the rest air dry.

Newspaper will produce a gray earthy color.
To have various colored paper, use white copy paper and add in food coloring after you've made the slurry.
You can also add dry flower petals or flower seeds to your paper.
Add these in just before you press the water out in the deckle.

There you have it.  A fun weekend craft, that can keep on giving!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Lessons from Bill Nye for my own science guys!

We love Earth Day in our home!  Especially when the boys can get messy. learn something new, and help save the trees!

All week Aaron has been reading me his library book The Lorax.  And we've been watching the old school 1972 cartoon of the book.
They both really get the idea of speaking for nature because "trees have no tongues". 

Our good friends Brooke and Mitch gave the boys a Bill Nye Paper Recycling Factory.  So this past week, we worked on recyling old paper into new!  

 The process is easy, but time consuming.  And you can do so much with it.
During this first run we recycled  a lot of our old tissue paper we've had put up from past gifts.  They were perfect colors, green and white!

From making the pulp, to grinding, to using deckles, to drying, the boys LOVED it!
And we talked about what else we can do next time we make a batch. 
We're going to make biodegradable wildflower paper!
Making up the pulp and adding in a wildflower seed mix during the deckling process.  Then that paper can be gifted and planted and will yield beautiful wild flowers!

Even though we have a kit, you honestly don't need to buy anything special other than some screening to do the process [Google easy paper making!]
Here's to teaching my children to leave a better earth for their descendants!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Celebrating Earth Day "Month"! Nightlights, robots, & recycled paper.

I love Earth Day!  I've loved every since I heard about it and stumbled upon an Earth Day Birthday celebration Almost 25 years ago!

At the time I was living in Dayton, Ohio and often went Downtown to shop at the now defunct department stores.  [Aww memories, but that is another post.]
One April day, as I headed to Elder Beerman, going through the Court Yard, I noticed this festival.  Unsure of what it was I stopped at the various booths to check out what was going on.
To be honest, this was the first time I ever even realized that we needed to care for the earth.  Sad but true.  The movement was gaining big momentum back then [It started in 1970], and I credit that festival for helping to open my eyes. 
I have to admit I'm not doing as much as I could, or as much as I have in the past. 
But maybe it's time to revisit some of the things I used to do. 
I know as I've grown older, learned more about my own ancestral roots, and had children, I've realized that truly it is our responsibility to be good stewards of this earth.  To leave it better than we found it in some way.  To leave it lovely for the future generations. 

One thing I love to do now, is various crafts and projects with my sons.  They are very much into preserving the earth and taking care of things.  I smile with pride every time they see garbage thrown on the ground and pick it up and throw it away.

During this April, I've picked out a few projects for us to do that both are fun, and help to reinforce the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle aspect of green living.

This weekend, we made "night lights" out of outside foliage and out of scraps of window covering [reuse!], and empty boxes.  The boys loved it AND now they have their own unique work of art to see as they drift off to sleep. 

You really only need clear contact paper [or clear packing tape], scraps of paper/fabric/wallpaper/paint chip samples/flowers/foliage/leaves, whatever is "flatter" and will stick to contact paper or tape.
Let me add a note that when trying to get the items to stick to contact paper things like light fabric may work better.  I found that heavier foliage did not stick too well to the contact paper, unless you put the box on it's side and then hurried and covered it with another piece of contact paper right away.|

Next weekend, we plan on using a great Bill Nye the Science Guy paper recycler that a friend gave us to make "new" paper for cards and projects.  Then the following weekend we are going to use empty coffee and food cans to make some kind of hanging "robot"  Both will get their own posts of how it all turns out! :)

I encourage everyone to do something fun this month for Earth Day.  It doesn't have to be fancy or in depth.  It could be as simple as planting some flower seeds.  Whatever you do, have fun, and use this moment as a wonderful teaching moment!