I’m always looking for new ways to make gardening fun for my classes with the local elementary school at Hiland Hall Gardens. Whenever I can integrate humor into my lessons, I find it’s always well received. Who doesn’t love to laugh, right?
The kids dubbed my latest garden lesson “Face Plants”, which is basically a new take on the chia head phenomenon. We created small pots out of clay, but if you don’t have access to a kiln, you could use air-dry clay or even create a simplified version by drawing a face on the side of a paper cup or an cup from the thrift store.
To create the clay Face Plant, students began by creating a simple pinch pot out of clay. Begin by making a ball with the clay, creating a hole (but not all the way through) with their thumb, and pinching around the sides to create a simple pot form. Next, we added a face, with students creating everything from horns, hair, ninja masks, tails . . . you name it, someone made it! I always emphasize slipping and scoring any add-on clay parts. This means scratching the clay with a toothpick or clay needle tool and adding a drop of water when joining pieces. We then fired our clay in the kiln.
After the pots were dry, we painted the outside black with tempera paint. While the paint dried, each child planted a few lettuce seedlings in egg cartons as future “hair” for their Face Plant.
How to plant the “hair”
- Prepare potting soil in a large container by mixing in some water to make it moist, but not soggy.
- Cut an egg carton into individual “planters” and have each student fill their in the egg carton planter almost to the top with the soil.
- Put in three to five seeds of greens of your choice in each spot.
- Plant some extras, just in case!
- Cover with soil to meet recommended seed depth of your particular seed.
- Cover with plastic wrap until seed germinates/sprouts.
- Remove plastic wrap, place in a sunny location, and water as needed.
Next, the children were really excited about adding color and planting “hair”. They added bright colors to their pots with oil pastels. Anything goes with this step…Green noses, blue mustaches, red horns… and they all came alive!
A clear coat (Polycrylic) with a foam brush was then applied by the adults, in order to seal in the oil pastel, so that it wouldn’t rub off on hands and clothing. Polycrylic is available at any hardware or home improvement store.
Finally, we transplanted our “hair” into each pot and watered our little Face Plants. The students had a wonderful time learning to plant seeds and being creative!
Kristen Blaker is an artist, educator, and The Director of Education at Hiland Hall Gardens (HHG). She teaches growing, whether that means growing carrots, creativity, or confidence to a wide range of students. Her blog posts are inspired by work she does in the gardens. Kristen also creates her own artwork inspired by homegrown vegetables, flower gardens, interesting animals and vintage botanical drawings; you can find her collection at www.kristenbstudio.com. She lives with her husband and three young children in North Bennington, Vermont.