Hammer time with nature

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Leaves and flowers are great tools for further play and exploration with Little Feet. You can do lots with them and there are lots of teaching opportunities that can go along side that fun. Children have an insane amount of energy. Little Feet A is a runner. She can run and run and run for miles if she had an option and makes it look so easy, she takes after her Daddy in respect (definitely not me!). With this in mind sometimes it is fun to be able to channel this energy into an activity. 

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Using a wooden toy hammer from her tool set and a rolling pin from the play doh we created prints of leaves and flowers by first rolling the leaves onto paper and then hammering them. The impact transfers the leaf pattern and green pigment onto the paper and leaves a sort of shadow of the colour and the anatomy. A little like flower pressing but without actually having to keep them.

What you will need:

  • Leaves

  • Flowers

  • Wooden hammer

  • Rolling pin

  • Kitchen roll

  • White paper

  • Mashing tape (optional)

Instructions:

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  1. Collect from different shaped leaves and different coloured flowers. Try and pick leaves that have an obvious pattern on it's underside as it is these ones that will come out the best. Make sure the leaves are fresh and not ones on the ground. We need as much 'juice' in them as possible. By that I mean water as this will help the transference to paper a bit better. Equally they don't want be soaking after rainfall as that will soak your paper.

  2. Place your paper on the floor or a surface you don't mind getting a battering. Place your leaf or flower directly onto the paper and place a piece of kitchen roll on top of the item, making sure it is all covered. If you think you make need a little bit of masking tape to tape the kitchen roll and paper together to help it not move then put a little at each corner of the kitchen roll.

  3. With your rolling pin first, starting at the bottom, roll up and down over the leaf with a firm pressure a few times. These will squash the stem part and help flatten the leaf.

  4. Put the rolling pin to one side and now use the hammer, hammering all over the leaf. Make sure to make and effort around the edges of the leaf as this will help define the shape of your imprint.

  5. At this point, gently lift the kitchen roll up to see how the imprint is going. If you are happy with it, then take the roll off and discard it. If you are missing some of the imprint on the paper then keep hammering, concentrating on the parts that are missing.

Note: Bare in mind that flowers will not need as much banging as a leaf. If you over do the hammering you will lose the shape of your imprint. Experiment with a few flowers to find the right technique you need for an effective result. 

BBC bitesize have some great educational videos about plants and flowers that can accompany this activity. 

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Garden Loom Weaving

Garden Loom Weaving is a great ongoing, interactive, creative piece to have in your garden. All you need is rope and scissors, the rest can be gathered from nature. Once it is up, you’ll find your Little Feet, going back to refill it again and again in the days to come.

Read More

Thirsty Flowers

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With the freedom, books, flowers and the moon, who could not be happy?

Oscar Wilde

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I have been wanting to do this with Patronus A for quite a while, but always kept forgetting white flowers. Then a couple of weeks ago we had some friends over and they brought white flowers. No excuse for me then! Patronus A about a year ago was obsessed with trees and flowers, how they grew, how they drank water, what happened when it rained and the sun was out. 

This activity is a fantastic visual way to teach them the biology of the process. By using water with food colouring in it, over the course of a few days the flowers begin to change into whatever colour water it is sucking up. It's a pretty cool experiment! 

We tried it with different colours, and two types of flower also. Over the course of a week and a half we saw which colours worked quickest, brightest, which didn't really work. Whether that was because we didn't put enough food colouring? We talked about how they change colour and how flowers suck up the water to the leaves. 

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Key biology words to use when doing this with your little feet: 

Xylem:

Refers to the system of tubes that transport and is responsible for the movement of water and nutrients throughout the flowers and plants. When flowers are cut from their roots the xylem will continue to pull up the water to feed the plant for a while. If you put food colouring in the water, then the flower will slowly change colour as the liquid reaches it. 

Capillary action:

Process of how a liquid, like water, moves up something solid, in this case a tube. This is able to happen when three forces work together; cohesion, adhesion and surface tension. Together they create a capillary action. 

Cohesion:

The process of two things sticking to each other, like two sides of a strip of velcro. 

Adhesion:

Water droplets stick together. Adhesion is when a water droplet (molecules) sticks to the side of a tube and begins to move upwards. That water droplet will then pull up the next one and the next one in a long chain. 

Surface Tension:

when water droplets hold together tightly at the surface. This makes the surface of the water more solid then the rest of the water. This helps hold the water at the top so it can move it upwards with capillary action. Surface tension is how a paper boat will float on the top of the water, or how an insect can stand on the top of the water. 

Chrysanthemums (I think?!)

Chrysanthemums (I think?!)

White alstroemeria (i think?!)

White alstroemeria (i think?!)

What you will need: 

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  • White flowers (why not try some snowdrops, they are everywhere right now)
  • Glass jam jars
  • Water
  • Food colouring (we used Wilton's)
  • Patience (about 1 week!)

Instructions: 

  1. Fill up your jam jars with water.
  2. Put a drop of food colouring in each jam jar. One colour per jar. 
  3. Using scissors, diagonally cut the stem of some flowers. Enough to go in each jar. One flower per jar is enough. 
  4. Leave them on a window sill for a few days and watch them change colour!
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What we discovered?

We discovered that the darker colours - blue and purple had the best effect on the white Chrysanthemums and that both these colours simply come out on the petals as blue.  Red, yellow and green all seemed to work on the white Alstroemerias. 

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Why not couple this activity with actually growing some flowers with your children. The Book People have a deal on that comes with a book, terracotta pots, three packs of seeds and some wooden sticks to write on.

 

Follow the link below to buy it.