31 December 2016

Gumboot pots and Paper chains

Want to make your house pretty without consuming more, find creative activities for children that don't involve buying more, and/or re-use some of the stuff around your house that is no longer wanted? Here are two ideas that do all three.

Gumboots! There are so many cool kids' ones around but, no matter how funky, they still wear out or (if you're lucky) kids grow out of them. What to do with all that rubber-plastic prettiness?

A few spring flower punnets and an hour of working together and we have had these decorating our entrance for the last two months.

Although we did buy potting mix, more than half the soil was made up of our own compost. (We have three compost tumblers and our guinea pigs contribute substantially to this enterprise!)

Five of these six gumboots drained sufficiently without any help; the sixth needed a couple of holes added. Summer has nearly killed them off now and direct sun has faded the gumboots significantly, but we may get second season out of them and meanwhile, it has been a lot more fun than just binning them.

Your children might not rip through gumboots at quite the rate we do, but if you have anyone small in your house you are certain to have a pile of kids' artwork mounting up. And old posters. Calendars. Wrapping paper. (Most people I suppose have junk mail or magazines, but we don't receive them here)

Eva got inspired to make paper chains for Christmas and it was a great use for the build-up of paper.

Because they were using their own old artworks and posters they were willing to 'repurpose' things that I had not been allowed to throw away (sneaky, huh?!).

Note the hole-punching above. If you have someone who loves hole-punching, its not a bad way to add interest to strips from old calendars while keeping those hole-punching-hands from less productive outcomes.

They both loved making the chains and I am happy to have our living room decorated by their creativity and enthusiasm.

Initial Time: Both of these activities took about an hour. That was part of the point. We have no TV and its school holidays again. Creative, engaging, sustainable activities are what we need plenty of here. (I last wrote specifically about this when Eva was quite small but if you search the labels below for 'free kids activities' there are also other places it has come up as she has got bigger)

Initial Cost: Gumboot pots: about $30 for seedlings and a bag of potting mix; Paper chains: a couple of dollars for a big box of staples.

Ongoing time or cost commitment: We will eventually have to take both these things down and they will ultimately end up in the recycling (chains) or the general rubbish (boots).

Impact: It is impossible to really calculate an impact for these activities and, to be honest, it would probably be quite small anyway. But both are little bits of a bigger picture: finding ways to reuse everything until it really is beyond use, rather than chucking it out after its first purpose; avoiding buying stuff to meet a need (and considering whether it is in fact a need at all); helping children to be creative; celebrating colour and beauty and natural things; finding the quality in our own creative effort rather than needing a professional or 'perfect' outcome (often with associated waste) in order to be happy; sharing activities together and working collaboratively on a combined project.