This is a wonderful activity for introducing children to clay, where it comes from as a natural material, and its multiple potential uses as earth and soil. The activity involves children planting seeds in a mixture of clay and soil. Then they can water it and watch it grow. The pocket garden can be kept or given away as a gift, with the promise that “it will grow if it is watered”. The pocket gardens are inspired by ‘Seed Bombs”, where seeds are enclosed into clay and compost, formed into a ball and thrown into hard-to-reach areas which lack greenery.
You Will Need:
*A lump of clay, about a handful is enough
*Planting soil, approximately one fifth of the amount of clay used
*Seeds from fruits and vegetables: e.g. bell pepper, chili, melon and papaya. These offer seeds in large quantity, are easy to prepare and will readily sprout. They need to be washed and dried before use.
*Seeds from wild plants. Those are easy to collect outside, and will readily sprout but they are very small and are visually discreet on the sculptures.
*Some larger tree seeds are exciting to use too, e.g. saga seeds, which are very visual.
*Seeds and beans bought from the shop, red beans, black beans and peas. These are large and attractive, but might not grow as efficiently as the other seeds listed here.
*Let your child experience the malleability of the clay and experiment with forming it into different shapes.
*Then your child can fold in the planting soil so that it is well mixed in with the clay.
*You can work together with your child to present the seeds in various containers. If you wish, you can label the containers with the name of the seed, or an image of the plant growing (e.g. watermelon and grass will look very different once grown.)
*Talk with your child about whether they want to make their Clay Pocket Garden more like a sculpture, i.e. to look good – or for it to have the best chance of producing a growing garden. This will determine the kinds of seeds they will use. The most effective approach may be a mix of both, seeds which look good, combined with seeds which will grow.
*Your child can then choose which seeds to use and press them into the clay mix where they wish. When they have finished, provide a small bowl of water for them to dip their finger in and smooth out their work.
*Water the garden daily and watch it grow!
*Your child can make a specific object as their ‘garden’, e.g. an animal or vessel, such as a bowl or a ball. A short and stubby shape is best, with no joints (as these are likely to break off when the clay dries out).
*You can provide a piece of A4 paper, place the clay pocket garden on it, and invite your child to draw or paint the rest of the garden within which their clay garden will grow.
*You can use cardboard to make a structure which can house the pocket garden. Remove it when watering, or the cardboard may get soggy.
This activity is offered as a creative workshop at Playeum’s Children’s Centre for Creativity for birthday parties and group bookings as part of the ‘Hideaways – Creating With Nature’ program. The activity was conceived by Isabelle Desjeux. Find out more at www.playeum.com
Gillman Barracks, 47 Malan Rd, Singapore 109444
+65 6262 0750
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