Gar­den­ing with kids: A les­son in re­pur­pos­ing

Alberta Gardener Magazine - - Contents - By Ta­nia Mof­fat

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.

Gath­er­ing sup­plies

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.

Lessons learned

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

• Scis­sors

• Brushes

• 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.

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