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I just ordered seeds for my garden and am looking forward to digging in the dirt once the snow all melts away.  Yummy, being a fan of anything Outdoors, is also looking forward to getting out her little watering can and putting some seeds in the ground.  To satisfy our longing for Spring yesterday, we set to work  building our own little garden, using brown play dough and sculpted vegetables.
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You Will Need:
  • Sculpey (or Fimo, or a homemade bake-able clay)
  • Acrylic paints & paintbrushes
  • Mod Podge
  • Brown play-dough (I use a recipe for no-cook play dough from The Imagination Tree -so easy!)
  • Optional: little signs made with card-stock and toothpicks to label the vegetables 

Exploring a New Medium: Sculpey / Oven-Bake Clay
I have had a big package of Sculpey in my art cabinet for ages, hoarding it for something wonderful.  Yummy was excited to try out a new material, but quickly found that it is much stiffer to work with than play dough.  I showed her how to warm a small piece up between her hands to make it more workable.  While she was exploring the clay, we talked about the different vegetables we will plant in our garden this year.  I made a list and drew a little picture for Yummy to connect the word to.  
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Clay-Working
I showed her how to roll the clay between her hands to make long vegetables, like carrots and cucumbers, and how to add details with a tool (we used some big toothpicks I'd snuck home from a restaurant sandwich...).  We talked about how seeds look different from the plants that grow up out of the soil, and how parts of the vegetable look different when you prepare them to eat: round peas come from a long pod, lettuce leaves come from a big round head, etc.  

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Time to Bake!
When we had created a variety of vegetables, we put them on a baking sheet and popped them in the oven at 275F.  Some of the vegetables took only 15 minutes, while I left the thicker ones in for 25 minutes, to make sure they were baked through.




While We Wait
Yummy was eager to get her hands on the new brown play dough, so while the vegetables cooked and cooled, she dug in.  I got out some silk flowers for her to plant in the meantime.  

Painting
When the vegetables were cool, we painted them using acrylic craft paint (which of course turned into hand-painting), then coated them in mod podge when the paint was dry.  By this time, it was Quiet Time for Yummy, so she had to wait a bit more to plant the garden.
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While Yummy was resting, I made up some little signs to label each vegetable, using toothpicks and little pieces of cardstock paper.  

←I set this up for her to find after Quiet Time. 

Time to plant vegetables! 
Yummy matched each sign to the right vegetable, using the picture to connect to the word.

We talked about how vegetables grow in rows, and how each vegetable looks when it grows in the garden (just so she doesn't start thinking that tomatoes come up in neat rows without any greenery, or something...).

After planting, Yummy picked some veggies, putting them into a little bucket to make a salad.  Then we had to replant.  
Uh-oh!  The rabbit is eating all the carrot tops!
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This was a super fun activity for both of us, and I love that we now have tiny vegetables to save for later creative play.  First thing this morning, Yummy got the play dough and veggies out and was planting another garden. 

When Dooter woke up from his nap, he got a few minutes of play dough time, planting some flowers and poking holes, until he started to eat it (as usual).  It's edible (if not tasty), but he tends to choke on the stuff.
Learning:
  • Literature: word and letter recognition
  • Visual Art: clay working techniques
  • Science: how plants grow and how they change looks from a seed to what we eat at the table




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