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Grandparents Teach, too

Try pressing plants for colorful art

Sabin, Davis, Hetrick, Anderegg, Macalady, Walker, Darling and Katers

Even though snowy days are here, there is still time for fresh air nature walks and gathering plant parts for pressed art bookmarks and picture gifts.

Small flat flowers like purple asters, leaves from burning bushes, ornamental grasses, and some tree leaves are still colorful. Spent marigolds have interesting long seeds that can be beautiful when spread on notecards and children’s drawings.

Since plants will be drier, take short afternoon walks. Young children can gather plant parts in small paper bags for winter projects.

You’ll also need thick books, paper towel sheets,1½ inch clear packing tape, and card stock or plain notecards.

Pressing plants

Collect plants and immediately press them. Plants can lose their color when pressed because bacteria and fungi feed on plant tissue, causing it to break down. Most of these microscopic organisms need moisture to thrive, so the faster the plant dries the better.

To press place small plant parts between absorbent paper in book pages about 1/8 inch apart from the next page and pile something heavy on top. Change the absorbent paper daily and protect your book pages with newspaper.

Craft stores have plant presses. Some are specially made for quick drying in a microwave. Warning: the microwave technique consists of short bursts of 30 seconds on medium and checking often to avoid fire. The pressed book method is very old and may take a few days to a week, but works well. Change the absorbent paper around the plants often.

If the plant parts fade, you can brighten them up with a watercolor wash. Add a few drops of liquid detergent to the paint to make it adhere. Another tip is to use wet and dry paint brushes in sequence, removing excess color with the dry brush to create a natural effect.

Pressed plants art

Pressed plants can be fragile and you may want to teach children to use a tweezers. Store the pressed plants in a cardboard shoebox, not plastic, until you are ready to use them.

Try out your arrangement on a separate piece of paper before you glue flowers to the cardstock, construction paper, or any final surface. Use white PVA glue such as Elmer’s or Unibond. These glues are colorless when dry, fairly odorless, and easy to use. Teach kids to use a little dab. You can thin the glue with water to make it easier to apply. Pour the diluted glue on waxed paper or aluminum foil, dab it on the plants with a wet paint brush or toothpick, and fasten the flowers to the cardstock.

When your arrangement is completed it is best to protect your dried flowers within a picture frame, clear packing tape, or acrylic sealer. For more see grandparentsteachtoo.blogspot.com or wnmufm.org/learning through the seasons.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Grandparents Teach, Too is a non-profit organization of elementary and preschool teachers from Marquette, Michigan. The writers include: Jan Sabin, Mary Davis, Jean Hetrick, Cheryl Anderegg, Esther Macalady, Colleen Walker, Fran Darling, and Iris Katers. Their mission since 2009 is to help parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of young children provide fun activities to help prepare young children for school and a life long love of learning. They are supported by Great Start, Parent Awareness of Michigan, the U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, Northern Michigan School of Education, the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum and the Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education.