By Heather Kirk-Ballard, LSU AgCenter Horticulturist
Looking for some fun crafts for the family? Kids are home, and we’re all looking for things to do that don’t involve electronics. Getting outside is a welcome change from being stuck indoors.
Gardening and the tasks involved with gardening can be a great way to get your family outside and engaged in some great crafts. Here are a few ideas to help get the creative juices flowing and spend some time with your family.
There’s a good chance you have seen message rocks around. They most often bear uplifting messages that, when left in random places, can cheer a person’s day. Often found along walking paths and in social gathering spaces, they are a great way to communicate and bring a smile to others’ faces.
The Kindness Rocks Project began as a kind gesture by Megan Murphy, and it has become a nationwide movement. It’s a great way to teach your children social and emotional learning critical to a child’s development, and it can help prepare children to be caring members of society. You can make little messages to share with neighbors during this difficult time. Or why not take this idea and use rocks to label plant pots and vegetable rows in your garden?
At the garden shop, you may have seen cute painted river rocks with sayings on them. What’s even better? Garden stones you paint yourself. You just need some flattened river rocks, paint, brushes or paint markers, and some creative flow.
Use can create markers that help identify plants or the area where seeds have been sown but have not yet sprouted. What’s great about this idea is that you can write anything on them — whether inspirational words or the names of the things you have planted.
You can also use popsicle sticks, old clothes pins and even recyclables such as bottles to make plant markers. Why not use old broken pots? It’s a great way for making good use of materials that would otherwise go to waste. Sometimes we get quite attached to our pots. Many of us have received them as gifts from friends or have had them passed down from family members. When a faithful pot breaks, you can keep it as part of your garden forever by using it to create art or signs for the garden. But be careful of broken edges that are sharp, and make sure they aren’t in an area where someone could step on them.
The fun doesn’t stop with making signs. You can also make adorable garden critters out of recycled materials. Again, you can use rocks to create garden animal art, but you can also use recycled materials such as 1-liter soda bottles and milk cartons to make amazing little planters that kids and parents alike will have a great time decorating.
To make planters with plastic bottles or milk cartons, carefully use scissors to cut the containers into an animal shape. One way is to use the rounded part of the bottle for the body, keeping the pour spout as the nose. Cut a hole in the side large enough to place a plant. The bottle will lie on its side. You can use twine to wrap around the bottle to make it look like animal fur and add a couple of cute little button eyes above the pour spout. Secure the twine and eyes with hot glue to hold them in place.
When you fill it with potting soil and a trailing plant that will spill over the side, you have created an adorable garden critter. Be sure to poke holes in the bottom of the bottle to allow water drainage and prevent roots from rotting. You can also recycle plastic water bottles to create other designs.
Small terra cotta pots are inexpensive and another great art resource for the kids. You can paint the outside of the pots, creating a design that is attractive and fun. Help your children draw and then let them paint on the pot. It’s a wonderful way to bring some fun into gardening and make a keepsake for life. Best yet, you can put plants in them and either move them indoors or out.
For very little money, you can purchase a few colors of paint and brushes. Use rocks, old wood or recyclables as your medium. Some quality time with your kids and family can bring so much joy to your garden to be enjoyed now and for a long time, making lasting memories for a lifetime.
A scrap piece of wood or siding can be used to make a sign for a yard or garden. Photo by Heather Kirk-Ballard/LSU AgCenter
Children can paint river stones as garden ornaments like these “ladybugs.” Photo by Heather Kirk-Ballard/LSU AgCenter
A wine bottle can be painted with the name of a plant and be used as a garden marker. Photo by Heather Kirk-Ballard/LSU AgCenter