Gardening with kids: A lesson in repurposing
Most children should be aware by now of the importance of recycling and hopefully composting, but while we’re still waiting to plant, we can provide them with a fun lesson on repurposing.
Repurposing is to take an item that is otherwise going to be discarded and give it new life or purpose by reinventing it into something else that is useful. There is no end to the types of repurposing projects that can be done in the garden or around the home. I decided to show the kids how to repurpose tin cans and buckets from recycle bound garbage into pretty plant pots, a foxy pencil holder and a rustic desk set.
The first thing we did was gather a collection of tin cans from the recycle bin. We removed the paper from the outside, and most of the glue (with a utility razor or by peeling it off) and I gave all of the tins another good washing. We found a couple of pink metal baskets that were left over from a gift and used those too.
Once the tins were dry, each one received a base coat of white spray paint. After that, it was just a matter of deciding what we wanted to create.
Desmond chose one of the pink buckets; I could tell he already had a plan. Picking out a napkin with huge strawberries on it, he asked me to assist by cutting out the berries while he covered part of the bucket with Modge Podge using a paintbrush. Desmond expertly placed the cutouts on the bucket and put another coat of Modge Podge on top of them. Once all the glue was dry, I sealed his creation with a final coat of clear acrylic spray paint. We added a few ribbons to the handles, and his masterpiece was ready. His plan is to grow his own strawberries in the
planter this summer, so we’ll ask dad to drill a few holes in the bottom for drainage before we plant his strawberries.
I made a pretty tin in the same fashion using a violet napkin that I plan to put a plant in for Mother’s Day. I intend to make a few more and use them as centerpieces for the table that everyone can take home. We also found some colourful floral material that we may use another time. Material is applied in the same fashion as the napkins.
The buffalo check set of tins, also made with napkins will make for a rustic desk set. And, being a fan of cutesy foxes I had to try my hand at creating one. After several coats of orange paint, I designed ears, eyes, a nose, a chest, arms and a tail that I cut out of thin white foam sheets we had purchased at the dollar store. Using the glue gun, I managed to get everything in place. I created a double sided pieces for the ears and tail for them to stick up on the can. I was pretty happy with my fox; in fact the boys want to make similar ones for their teachers as an end of school year gift.
The entire project cost us nothing as we used items from around the house. If you don’t have Modge Podge, you can purchase it a craft store or just use white school glue in the same manner.
We made a mess, had some fun and learned that another way to recycle things is to reuse them. This was a fun way to pass a cold rainy day, and we got to talk about the value of repurposing as well. Repurposing diverts items from our landfills and is a fun way to recycle and reuse.
The boys came up great ideas on other ways to repurpose tin cans. We haven’t worked out all the details on how to bring their ideas to life, but we did have a stimulating discussion on how the items could be created. For instance, to make candleholders you could use several sizes of cans and drill holes in the sides of them in a pattern, then paint the cans in complimentary colours. The light of the candles will flicker and reflect the patterns.
Encouraging this type of thought not only provides fun projects to do together, but it also stimulates creativity and gets children thinking about the importance of the three R’s (Recycle, Reuse and Repurpose). These concepts are important for them to learn as they grow up to become ecoconscious contributors to our world. After all, good gardeners need to care about the earth.
Items you will need
• Assorted sizes of tin cans, cleaned thoroughly, paper and glue removed
• Paper napkins, assorted designs 2 ply or more
• Remnants of patterned cloth or
doilies • Ribbon
• Modge Podge or white school glue • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
• White spray paint
• Clearcoat acrylic spray paint
• Acrylic paints
• Thin foam sheets
• Buttons, appliques or other items you may want to add to your creations
A little Modge Podge, napkins, paint, ribbon and appliques can transform tin cans into pretty pots, pencil holders and more.
Destined to grow strawberries this summer, this pot has been given appropriate decoration.
Items that you'll need for this project.