This week our school is celebrating Earth Day, and we've been doing special activities to learn about how we can be more environmentally conscious by reusing and recycling everyday items. I prepared a really neat center last Wednesday with recycled newsprint and we made hockey puck-like plantable shaped flower paper. It was pretty simple, and extremely inexpensive.
Shredded newspaper (or any non-glossy paper. Printed paper will yield a grey product, and white paper...white, etc.)
food processor/stick blender/blender
flower seeds (I used a wildflower mix I got from Target for $1)
cookie cutters (optional)
Pictured below were some of the items I was bringing with me to school, some leftover shredded newpaper, the seeds, towels and cookie cutters
Boil with the lid on over about medium heat for a couple hours. (EDIT: Please, add water first. Enough to cover it two or three inches.) Yes, I realize this wastes energy, but I didn't want to totally ruin my stick blender. It's a trade off. I want to mention that I was irrationally fearful of the whole thing catching fire because it was PAPER in there. Nevermind that it was completely soaked in water. I would start watching TV, and then all of a sudden the alarm in the back of my mind would start going off, and I'd jump up to check to make sure the kitchen wasn't in flames.
This picture was taken just before I decided to blend it. It looks pretty good and soggy.
Next: blend. I used my aforementioned stick blender with no ill effects, barring the grey film that covered it afterwards from the soy inks.
Grab your colander and carefully strain the water out.
Yep, it's a big, grey, pulpy mass. I flipped the mass over a few times and let it drain.
Next, I used my wooden spatula and pressed some more water out.
This is pretty much as far as you need to go. I went ahead and vigorously squeezed the rest of the paper out by hand, but discovered it actually needs some water content and had to add some water back in, so just stop here. You don't want it sopping wet, but you do want it to be mixable.
Now, here's the fun part for the kiddos. I gave each of them a cup and a fork, and had them add some flower seeds and mix it in.
They each chose a small cookie cutter shape, and scooped the pulpy, seedy mass into it, and pressed it down with their fingers. Here's where the towels come in. After it's pretty flat from the fingers, you now use a towel to press down and squeeze as much water from it as you can. If it's left too wet...well, the puck will sprout. Which may be cool, if that's what you're going for, but we wanted them to dry out and be plantable later. For faster drying, I placed a towel underneath the mold while pressing the top with another towel.
Pretty neat, huh? The teachers reported that they had all dried over the weekend, and will be ready for planting whenever the kids want. You can also punch a small hole and thread a string through with a tag explaining what it's for and how to plant, and give as a neat, earth-friendly gift!