The TICE team delivered a horticulture workshop this week, with the help from year 3 at Carville Primary School in Wallsend.

The main focus of the day was ‘What do plants give us?’ and we thought carefully about the important role they play: in the food chain, the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the air we breathe. Year 3 knew lots about this topic already and we had some excellent contributions to our group discussion.

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Slides from the presentation show a t-shirt made of plants, a car powered by plants and we considered the different role plants play in making the parts of a beef burger.
We also looked at clever tricks that plants use to disperse their seeds - including Velcro like shells that hook onto animal pelts and aerodynamic designs that can be lifted and transported for miles by the wind.
We also looked at clever tricks that plants use to disperse their seeds – including Velcro like shells that hook onto animal pelts and aerodynamic designs that can be lifted and transported for miles by the wind.

Moving on, we all had a seed paper making task to complete. The use of the seed paper would become clearer this afternoon, once it had dried.

Sheets of tissue paper were dampened with a very weak solution of PVA and water, scattered with wild flower seeds and sandwiched shut with another layer of tissue. We used contrasting colours and, once the water and glue was added, we achieved some beautiful and vibrant marbled results.

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Seed paper beginning to take shape.

The seed paper was put to one side to dry and we moved onto some seed cultivation. Everyone potted some basil seeds to take home. We copied out our own care instructions and a fully-grown basil plant was shown to the group. We tore off leaves to smell and taste, they smelt minty and tasted sweet -the perfect addition to pasta and pizzas.

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Seeds sown, it was time to get creative. We looked at some fabulous mandalas made completely out of natural materials on the SMARTboard. The mandala is a religious symbol, used primarily in Buddhism; it symbolizes the world and how everything in connected (this message was very relevant to our topic of the day!)

A selection of slides from our presentation, showing a selection of nature mandalas, symmetry found in nature and an intricate Buddhist mandala made from coloured sand.
A selection of slides from our presentation, showing a selection of nature mandalas, symmetry found in nature and an intricate Buddhist mandala made from coloured sand.

Lottie demonstrated how to start creating the mandalas, from the middle working out, and also that we had to think about the task using maths. Year 3 guessed that the mandalas were ‘symmetrical’ and we found out that mandalas used fractions -to work out where to place leaves, petals and seeds ½ and ¼ of the way round their circle. We also started to think about sorting and scale, trying to find petals and leaves the same size to make sure our designs were as symmetrical as possible. Some volunteers helped to guess where to place petals and leaves next and, once the group had got to grips with the task, it was time to create our own mandalas.

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Year 3 group sorted through containers of pumpkin seeds, bay leaves and rose petals.

After lunch, we completed another creative activity. One of the many things we get from plants is pigment; this pigment can be used to create dyes, paint, cosmetics and medicine. Lottie brought along some homemade ink made from beetroot and turmeric, turmeric is an intense yellow spice that can be used to give curries a rich, golden colour.

Year 3 spent some time drawing beetroot plants, seasonal flowers and garden critters. As the fabulous illustrations took shape, the children added finishing touches; we added yellow turmeric suns - to help our plants grow and bees to help them reproduce.

Year 3 spent some time drawing beetroot plants, seasonal flowers and garden critters. As the fabulous illustrations took shape, the children added finishing touches; we added yellow turmeric suns – to help our plants grow and bees to help them reproduce.

A beetroot illustration, featuring a turmeric yellow sun.
A beetroot illustration, featuring a turmeric yellow sun.

Illustrations completed, it was time for our final task. Year 3 were re-united with their now dry seed paper, but before we started using it, we found out some things about the word ‘biodegradable’ and thought about the length of time different materials take to disintegrate (Tissue paper takes 2 weeks whereas plastic bags take 20 years and aluminium bags take 200!)

We were shown a picture of what we were about to make:

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Year 3 each had to make a flower using their seed paper as petals; the seed paper petals would not be stuck down, but secured lightly to the flower centre with slots. Can you guess what might happen when we ‘plant’ our flowers outside?

The flowers were made using a series of simple step-by-step processes.
We started by drawing faces on our flower centres, before securing them to flower sticks.

The petals were made by tracing round templates and using our best scissor skills to cut out circles from our seed paper.
The petals were made by tracing round templates and using our best scissor skills to cut out circles from our seed paper.
The final stage was to carefully arrange the petals on the flower centres, ready to take home.
The final stage was to carefully arrange the petals on the flower centres, ready to take home.

The flowers were all unique, in different, marbled and vibrant colours – some had big grins and googly eyes, some had scary teeth – and one even had a moustache!

Everyone worked really hard to complete their finished biodegradable flowers, taking care to attach the fiddly petals and the results were impressive!

A big thank you goes out to Carville Primary staff and children, we had a fabulous day and really enjoyed working with you.