Editor’s note: Please help me welcome this month’s featured author, Cherie Foster Colburn. She’ll be appearing in Texas twice this month to help kids make the craft described below. You can meet up with her at the Texas State Fair on Sunday, Sept. 30 in the Southern Living Booth at the Greenhouse on the Midway. Alternatively, you can meet her at the Wildflower Center during Austin’s FREE Museum Day on Sunday, Sept. 23.
Be sure to register to win a copy of her book, too! Details are at the bottom of the post.
Say something is “legendary” these days and lots of folks hear Barney from How I Met Your Mother. But plant legends are eons older than Barney Stinson. Folklore – handed down from grandparent to grandchild since communication began – is scarce these days and plant legends all but forgotten.
Author Tomie dePaola introduced my daughters to plants in a whole new way in the mid-90’s. Legend of the Bluebonnet became a staple in Texas school libraries and a welcome addition in our home. When I stumbled across Legend of the Indian Paintbrush and Legend of the Poinsettia, I should have noticed a pattern: plants have stories. (Either that or dePaola has stumbled onto a money-making franchise!)
My girls remembered those specific flower names because of the story attached and I had dePaola to thank. when I started branching out in my landscape design business to include school learning gardens, I integrated the dePaola books and saw the same results with other children. Not only that, but parents and teachers commented on how effective the books were in getting students excited about both plants and books. So when I heard wonderful storyteller and author Zoe Kirkpatrick at a Native Plant Society Conference as she regaled us with yarn after yarn about wildflowers found on her ranch, I recognized Tomie’s monopoly on plant legends was up and I was going to horn in on his gig.
Fast-forward almost 20 years and I’m speaking to my editor when she asks what other children’s book ideas I have. I told her of the more than 600 legends I’d collected from all over the world that are from multitudes of cultures. Bloomin’ Tales had been brewing in my head for some time as curriculum, but my editor saw the legends as a great resource not limited to the classroom. She went to work encouraging artist and Master Naturalist Joy Fisher Hein to partner with us as the illustrator and I narrowed down 7 of my favorite plant stories from 7 different ethnic groups. In June, the seeds — sown so many years before — bloomed into two new books to pass the legends to a new generation with one edition for all of North America and another for both Joy and my home country, TEXAS.
Cherie’s Seedmark Craft:
Many of us want our children to engage in nature but aren’t sure where to start. Here’s an easy and inexpensive craft–perfect to keep or share–that I do with students from pre-school to middle grades.
I hope your family will enjoy. And don’t forget to pass on the stories, because if you don’t, who will?
- Recycled paper cut into 2×6” strips
- Vellum or tracing paper cut same size as paper strips
- Twine or paper curling ribbon
- Hole punch
- Seeds (I use Indian blanket – Gaillardia pulchella – or sunflowers, or another easy to germinate flower, but lettuce also works)
- Glue stick
- Washable markers
- Optional shaped hole punches
- With washable markers, draw a picture of the flower you’ll be using and note the name of it at the bottom of the strip; may also note growing conditions or a website address with the growing info if a gift (I use Native American Seeds’ website, http://www.seedsource.com) and growing instructions (see #5).
- Take a vellum or tracing paper strip and fold in ½ and place the 1st paper strip in the fold of this one.
- Use a hole punch to make a place through all 3 layers for the twine/ribbon to tie pieces together.
- Using a glue stick, attach several seeds near the top of the paper strip, no further than 1” from the hole punch, and replace the vellum on it so the seeds are sandwiched between paper and vellum for protection.
- Your “SeedMark” is now ready to give away or plant. To plant, lay the “SeedMark” on its back on wet soil then lightly sprinkle soil on top of the seed area and moisten. Leave the twine/ribbon at top and the label at the bottom exposed so you remember where and what you’ve planted.
September Giveaway Details
For a chance to win an autographed copy of Cherie’s book, leave a comment on this post about your favorite wildflower–and why you love it. The contest ends on September 28 at 5PM C.S.T. The winner will be announced via my Facebook page during the first week of October.
You can also tweet this out for an extra chance to win:
Register to win a copy of “Bloomin’ Tales” by Cherie Foster Colburn with @redwhiteandgrew http://wp.me/sKZUT-cherie #giveaway
And you can repin this pin on Pinterest. (That’s right. THREE chances! You can pick one or pick all!)