HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
July 23, 2007, Herald Journal

Summertime creations


With summer comes the magical arrival of flowers, butterflies, other garden goodies, and creeping, crawling, and flying visitors.

And, of course, it’s our children who take the time to examine all of these wondrous summertime visitors.

I truly enjoy planting a garden and watching the miracle of growth, a plant emerging from the start of a little seed sown underneath the soil. Then with patience reaping the benefits and harvesting the end products.

There is nothing better than picking the fresh peas from the garden and popping the peas in your mouth (or if you are like me chomping on the pod and all) or picking that luscious red strawberry and enjoying the sweet taste with its juices running down your mouth.

What is better than enjoying the whole process with your children, from planting the seeds to reaping the harvest.

Whether it be a carrot from the vegetable garden, a raspberry from the raspberry patch, or a flower from the flower garden, all are truly miracles of growth and creation. And sharing these summertime miracles with our children makes the season even more special.

If you have a garden, allow your children in to observe the growth and finally to help harvest the end-products.

Allow your child to pick a flower and be enthralled by its beauty. Take time with your child to observe the critters that are attracted to certain plants. Whether it’s the butterflies on the catmint, Monarchs on the zinnias, white admirals on the purple coneflowers, the summertime creatures are fluttering and crawling about.

We have large patches of catmint (any type of mint plant grows and spreads quickly) in different spots in our landscaping, and our children love to watch the many butterflies, and big bumblebees too, that love the nectar.

My children also love to pick flowers from our various gardens, plants, and yes, weeds, forming a bouquet and presenting them as gifts to grandma or for the kitchen table.

Just as summer is about growth and creations, it’s also fun for children to make their own creations. Here are some versions of various flowers your children can “grow” themselves with their own creativity: They will last for years to come.

How about a yarn flower? You will need yarn (any color you want for the flowers, or you may even want to try multi-colored yarn, etc.), green cloth-covered floral wire, green floral tape and scissors.

Wrap the yarn that you want as the center around two fingers about six times, depending on the thickness of the yarn.

Wrap the yarn that you want for the petals around three or four fingers about eight times.

Bend one piece of florist wire in half. Take your yarn (with the center color on top) and place it into the U-shaped bend in the wire. Twist the wire closed to hold the yarn in place.

Trim the ends of the yarn to a length that you desire.

Gather the yarn straight up, and starting just below the flower, wrap the florist wire with the florist tape. Be sure to cover where the yarn meets the wire.

You can also add a craft leaf or a piece of ribbon for a leaf. Tape it to secure it to the stem.

Unravel the yarn if you want to give the flower a more detailed look or just leave the yarn.

If you want big fluffy flowers, use thick fluffy yarn and wrap it around all four fingers ten or more times.

Source: Homeschool Views, www.homeschoolviews.com

Tissue paper flowers are always a delight. Layer tissue paper so you have at least three or four layers. Fold it like you would a fan (accordion-style).

Twist a pipe cleaner around the center. If desired, round both ends of the stack with scissors.

Pull the paper apart and shape like a flower. On my daughter’s most recent sleepover birthday party, the girls made these flowers in giant-size (must have used a lot of Miracle Grow). The girls used large sheets of tissue paper in various colors. The flowers turned out beautiful, and the girls loved the process.

“Family Fun Magazine” recommended making the flowers in giant form. It was giant fun.

Coffee filters, water and markers or water colors also are materials that can provide some blossoming buds.

Allow your child to decorate the coffee filters with markers, and then spray the filter with water (or just use water color paints) to make the colors blend and bleed together.

After the filter flowers have dried, pinch the center of it and wrap a pipe cleaner around it to create a flower that will never wilt. Put some together to form a bouquet.

Lastly, using egg cartons and flexible straws, tulips, daffodils or whatever type of flower your child wishes to “grow” can be created.

To make a tulip, cut an individual cup from an egg carton. Trim the edges of the cup to form four petals. If you wish, use markers to add some more color.

Start with two yellow egg cups (or just color cardboard egg carton cups). Prepare a tulip flower as described above. Trim the second cup so that the edge is even and the sides are about an inch tall.

Fit the short cup into the first cup and glue it into place. Make a small slit into the bottom of each flower and insert the end of a straw for the stem.

Source: Familyfun.com (although I have made these a few years back as well.)

It is a wonderful experience for our children to experience the growth of plants and flowers. Creating some of their own is just as worthwhile, rewarding and beautiful at that.