We surprised some of our teachers today with a small, but special handmade Easter treat. The older kids (middle and high schoolers) declined to make any this year, but they helped the Littles along the way. This is a project we do every two or three years and it’s always a big hit. The teachers feel the love AND the project itself has a lot of learning options. Win-Win!
I’m going to just show our step-by-step process this year, mostly with pictures. Enjoy the pictures and feel free to use this project in your own creative way in the future.
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The project requires growing some grass or ground cover from seed. So whatever you choose, check the germination time for the seeds, then add a week to give the plants time to fill out a bit before you add the finishing touches.
The first step was to fill the egg cartons with eggshell halves. This is a learning point for someone — math! A couple of times, I was homeschooling one of the kids during this time of year and they DID help me with this math. How many gifts are we going to make? Are we going to use egg cartons that hold 12 eggs or 18 or a flat of eggs? If we use 36 eggs/week (we do in our home with 8 people!!!!), how many weeks do we need to start saving eggshells to fill up all the cartons we want. Remember, if we crack the eggs right, we get two halves for every one egg.
The next learning experience in this step usually thwarts the mathematician’s math. Who wants to practice cracking eggs? We usually only get one half of the eggshell to use when the kids are cracking the eggs. When it was the 6 year old and the 4 year olds this year, we were lucky if we got even half a shell. That’s ok… everyone gets to help (and I secretly crack eggs later if I have to). This year, I forgot to start saving eggs until about a month ago. So I bought 5 dozen eggs and we all had a go at cracking them into freezer bags. I froze 18 eggs in each bag, which I can just pull out and thaw on a scrambled egg day in the kitchen.
Now came the fun part … filling the eggshells with potting soil. It kept the younger kids busy for quite a while. and they LOVED getting their hands dirty. It was also a great activity for fine motor and eye-hand coordination practice for the younger kids and for my son with cerebral palsy. I’ll admit that I was quite impressed that they didn’t make more of a mess. I think focus was another skill practiced that day.
We then planted the grass — pinches of tiny seeds into each eggshell. Skill set here? Fine motor again, but patience, too. After filling each little shell with soil, the Littles were losing interest and started grabbing a handful of seed at a time instead of a pinch. I redirected the girls to another activity and two of the older kids finished the seeding. This year, my 7th grader told me to get mini clover instead of grass seed. “It’s good ground cover and you don’t need to mow it.” I did not argue, as I was pleased that he took the time to do the research (never mind that I doubt any teacher will actually plant the grass/clover in their yard).
The Littles REALLY wanted to water everything, but I just knew we’d have rivulets of water with tiny, tiny seeds flooding over the edges of the shells, across the table and all over the floor. So we compromised. My 15 year old told the girls that she would water and they could take turns pointing to which eggshell should be watered next. After about 15 minutes of tedious work, they lost interest and she was able to finish up more quickly. It is pretty tedious to water each little eggshell. Last time, after we soaked the soil, we used a water spritzer to keep it moist. I don’t have one right now, so I added water 3 times within the week.
More patience was needed as we waited for the grass to grow. This year, we did the planting step on a Thursday after school and the Littles went to their bio dad on Friday for the weekend. They got back late on Sunday evening, but when they got up Monday morning for school, the seeds had sprouted!!!! WooHoo!
FINALLY, it was time to decorate. I got out some bits and ends of previous projects — feathers, jewels, die-cut flowers, glitter, pom poms, ribbons — a table full of colorful choices. We put glue on all the edges of the egg cartons (one side at a time) and it took the kids about an hour to carefully place pretty things, one at a time, on their project. They kept saying things like, “My teacher LOVES pink!” “I think my teacher will like some feathers.” “I’m going to kiss this jewel so my teacher will always have my kiss.” The excitement of giving something special was building!
AAAAND, this morning, once they were ready for school, 4 excited kids got to “hide” little chocolate Easter eggs in the grass to surprise our teachers.
Out the door to surprise some special people in our lives. Happy Easter!!!!