Growing things

Last time we talked about sniffing and growing Rosemary. At the moment, a certain supermarket is onto a really cool thing – giving out little pots of flowers or veggies with every purchase over R150. I know many kids are hounding their parents to go shopping there to increase their collection, but fear not if you don’t get it right.

You can easily grow your own veggies without any fancy little pots.

All you need are egg boxes, seeds and soil (seedling soil really works the best – but it’s not completely necessary).

Get a group of kids together and share resources. One bag of seedling soil goes a really long way. If you don’t have any money for seeds, ask friends who have gardens if they have any to spare. Marigolds grow very quickly from the seeds that you can harvest from a dead flower. So do lots of other things – like tomatoes.

Simply fill the egg boxes with soil – poke a little hole in the middle – about 1cm deep and plant a seed (or two). Cover the hole up with a bit of soil. Water gently and put them on a windowsill or somewhere light. They don’t like direct sunlight too much because then they dry out.

Make sure that you keep them moist – if the soil gets dry your teensy babies will never sprout.

The time it takes to sprout depends on what seeds you have planted. Some spout much quicker than others – for instance, Sweet Alyssum starts sprouting in about 3 days but onions take around 10 – 15 days to poke their little green shoots out into the world.

Once they do start sprouting, plant the whole egg box in the ground. Or you can carefully cut the little sections apart and scatter them around your garden or into pots. The egg box material is biodegradable. Just (obviously) make sure you do not use plastic egg boxes!

You can even have fun making your own artistic signs out of ice-cream sticks or bits of cardboard box so that you know which seeds are which.

Consider having a race with your friends and see whose seeds sprout first.

By the way – if you want to know how to make a veggie bed the size of a door – my book – Sibo and the Veggie Bed (check out the cover above) is available this month as a free read on the website.

Explore your green-fingered side guys!

Have fun.

Sibo

Xx

Fairy sized crackers

Last week we made some paper chains using recycled magazines or papers. This week I thought I’d tell you about the cutie little fairy-sized crackers that I had a go at making.

You need a few basic things to make these – but before you start I should mention that they do not actually crack! (Although you can buy the poppers at some art stores if you really want some.)

You need:

  • crepe paper
  • the inner core of a toilet roll
  • glue, sticky tape, scissors, ruler
  • pretty string
  • shiny tape or wrapping paper
  • goodies to put into the cracker – like sweets, little charms, jokes or even vouchers to wash dishes or make cups of tea or coffee.

First you need to modify the toilet roll core.

A normal toilet roll core is 10cm long and 4cm wide. Cut it down the centre and then cut it in half.  Roll one half around your finger and tape it closed. This should give you a baby sized toilet roll core of 5cm long x 2cm wide.

Crepe paper is nice and stretchy and comes in flat rolls in many different colours. You can get lots of crackers out of one roll.

Put your tiny core in the middle (at the bottom) of a rectangle of crepe paper that measures ~15cm x 11cm.

Roll it up and put a bit of glue on the edge to stick it down.

Carefully tie one side up with a piece of pretty string.

Pop the sweet or whatever you are going to use into the core and tie up the other side.

Then you can decorate the middle bit of the cracker with shiny tape or anything you have handy – stickers, pictures, leaves – get your creative hat on.

The crackers can then be used as table decorations for a special meal, or you can hang them on the Christmas tree if you have one. You could even staple one end of the cracker to your paper chain. Or you can simply use them as little presents.

Remember – you can always adapt ideas and make them your own. There is no right or wrong when it comes to being creative.

The main thing is to have fun in the process.

Lots of love,

Sibo.

Festive Decorations

Somehow the festive season always seems so much more jolly when decorations are involved.

Of course, you could tootle off to the shop and spend money on fancy, shiny, plastic, commercial decorations that might, or might not, land up in the bin after all the festivities.

Or you could make your own.

Like paper chains – they are nothing new – but they’re still fun and easy to make.

All you need is… imagination, an old magazine, scissors, a ruler, a glue stick or stapler.

  • Cut the magazine into strips. (~2cm strips are very easy to use and you get a chain of about 60cm long from one page.) If you make the strips 1cm or less, it becomes a little fiddly, but you obviously get many more strips out of a page so your chain is much longer.
  • Cut (or tear) all the strips in half.
  • Make a circle out of the first strip (overlapping the ends) and glue or staple it closed. Stapling is easier but is less environmentally friendly because when the paper breaks down you are left with little bits of metal that hang around for a whole lot longer.
  • Interlock your next piece of paper through the first circle and close it.
  • Keep going until you have a chain long enough to stretch from one side of the room to the other – or however you want to drape it. Better check with your parental agent before you stick things on the walls though.

Get creative and make little bunches of shorter chains to hang at the end of the long chain.

Traditionally chains used to be made out of coloured crepe paper. You can easily still get this paper and it’s not very expensive. Crepe paper has a bit of a stretch to it – so does not break very easily. It also comes in lovely bright colours.

If you are financially challenged though – magazines work just as well. You can even use newspaper!

You could glitz the chains up with a bit of glitter… but I was reading the other day that glitter is also becoming an environmental no-no. It is now classed as a micro-particle – it gets into the water system and does all sorts of nasty things to birds and other little critters.

Next week we’ll make some more decorations so stay tuned!

Have fun and stay safe this holiday.

Sibo

 

The last straw!

I know we’ve had this conversation before but truthfully – plastics are taking over the world.  Or rather, they are playing a big part in messing it up!

Why is that?  Petroleum-based plastics like PET do not decompose in the same way that organic material does. Stuff like wood, food scraps and grass gets transformed into useful compounds by bacteria – but this does not happen with plastic. Plastic never really goes away. After hundreds of years it might break down if it is exposed to sunlight – but even those tiny pieces are still floating around in the place. Of course, if it gets buried in a landfill – it never sees the sunlight and so it stays… and stays.

One way that we can help – I know it seems a teensy way – but every little bit really does help, is to say “No Thank You” to straws.

Seriously! We don’t need to use a straw to drink a cool drink. By the way – if the cool drink is in an aluminium can – that also takes 500 years to break down – so make sure you recycle those too please.

The problem with straws is that they are light and even if they do get disposed in the proper way, they get picked up by the wind and carried off to places unknown. Often they land up in rivers, damns and the sea and they cause untold damage to birds and other marine life.

Yes – I know it’s very cool to pull the paper off the straw so it’s concertinaed up, and then use the straw to drop a little bit of cool drink on the paper and watch it magically unfold all by itself. This drives my mum crazy if I do it when we are out, so she’ll be glad to hear that I am giving up straws in the interests of helping to save the planet.

Of course, if you absolutely must have a straw in your drink – then take it home with you and in another blog I’ll share some cool stuff to do with straws. Sciencey stuff!

In the meantime – I’m sharing my book – Sibo Tackles Trash – on the website  for everybody to read free for a few days.

Every little bit really does help people – let’s all try. Together we can make a BIG difference.

Lots of love,

Sibo

 

Nifty Beads

Sibo beads 2

We made some seriously cool beads last week. They are really easy to make too. Here’s how you make beads out of salt dough…

Making the dough…

2 cups of plain flour
1 cup of table salt
1 cup of water

Put all ingredients into a mixing bowl and gradually add the water, mixing to a soft dough.

Remove the mixture from the bowl, put it on a flat surface and knead it for 10 minutes. (Yes I know your arms gets tired but you need to do this because it helps to create a good smooth textured  dough.)

Let the dough stand for about 20 minutes before you start working with it.

While your dough is having a rest (you can have one too) you need to cover some baking trays with grease proof paper or baking paper.

If you don’t use all of the dough at once – you can wrap it in plastic and store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Making the beads….

Pinch of small amounts of dough and roll it into a nice round ball in the palm of your hand.  Carefully make a hole in the centre of the bead using a toothpick or something similar. Place it on the baking tray.

Make a hole through the centre. You must make the hole in the centre whilst the dough is still soft – it becomes very hard once it has dried completely.

You can, or course, make the beads any shape or size that you want to.

You can leave them to dry naturally in the air. This is environmentally friendly, but it does take around 48 hours for them to dry. Or you can dry them in a very cool oven ~60 degrees Celcius.  (Don’t be tempted to make the oven any hotter – the beads just crack and then they are useless.) It takes 3-4 hours for the beads to dry.

Once they are dry you can paint them different colours with craft or spray paint.    When the paint has dried, give them a coat of clear varnish or spray paint to make them nice and glossy.

Now you’re ready to thread your beads.  We use fishing nylon – but you can use anything – wool, twine,  leather – whatever you have. We also cut up slices of cork (from wine bottles) in between the big beads.

Go crazy – have fun.

Sibo

Holiday Fun Again

Recycling

I bet you are all really glad that its school holidays again – especially now that its winter and is cold in the mornings. But after a few days of sleeping in those odd few twinges of boredom start to set in.

I mean we can only watch so much television, play so many computer games and even after a while I even want a break from reading books too.

It’s great if you money is no object – then there are lots of things to do. Like going to the movies, shows, amusement parks, on holiday and other fun stuff. Or one could visit a science centre like Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown. It’s not so expensive and they have some very cool things going on for the holidays.

But many of us are a tad financially challenged and that’s when we have to make a plan.

Firstly remember that if you’re feeling cold and a bit in the doldrums – get some exercise. Any kind of exercise. Grab a friend or even better – a couple of friends and go for a nice brisk walk. Or a run. Or a bike ride. Or hula hoop.  Do somersaults and handstands in the garden or the park. Go crazy.

Exercise boosts creativity – so when you’ve finished it’s time to get creative.  You can make amazing things with junk. Using fishing line (which does not cost that much and you get an awful lot of it on one reel) you can string up all sorts of things like bottle tops, corks, buttons, old beads and bits of plastic. These days’ plastic bottles come in all sorts of colours too.  You can also paint the stuff you string up. One string might look a bit odd – but if you make lots of strings you could make a hanging doorway for your room or even a secret nook in the garden.

Don’t forget about fabric painting. If a bunch of you each buy one pot of fabric paint and share – then you’ll have lots of colours. You can brighten up old t-shirts or even paint flowers or patterns on your sheets. Make sure you get your parental agent’s permission first though.

If you have access to the website – there is a fabulous site to visit to find things to make Toys from Trash.  Arvind Gupta is a friend of Ginny’s and lives in India.

Happy Holidays.

Sibo

Tricky Trash

Recycling

Hearing about the Pikitup troubles started me thinking about rubbish.

We all generate lots of trash every single day.

How many people do actually recycle their stuff? I know that some places have bins that are easily accessible for people to throw their paper, plastic or glass in and all it requires is a little bit of effort. Other places provide special bags for recycling stuff and it gets specially picked up every week. That’s also relatively easy to do.

Then you get the places are not so jacked-up and it actually does require a fair amount of trouble to recycle properly.

If your area does not have good recycling habits there are other things that you can do to help out.

Most places in South Africa have people who trawl around the bins in residential areas on rubbish day. They take out all the plastic, glass and paper to be recycled. They get money for this stuff – and often this is their only source of income.

I know some people whinge and mutter because they don’t always leave the bins nice and tidy as they found them, but actually they’re doing the earth a service.

Why fill up the landfill more when we can recycle?

So… the nice thing to do is to help out and try and segregate your own rubbish.

Save all your glass bottles and jars and put them into a separate bag in the bin.

Do the same with tins, plastic, paper and cardboard. Make sure you wash out tins and plastic containers first. It must be really horrible for the people who collect this stuff to have to grovel out yukky miffy old disgusting cans with bits of mouldy dogfood or baked beans clinging to the sides.

You could also find out if any of the play schools in your area need stuff – like the inside cardboard roll in the toilet paper, cereal boxes, plastic trays, jars etc.  They often use things like that for craft projects or for storage.

If you have batteries, bulbs or ink cartridges you can usually recycle those in the bins in Pick ‘n Pay. They know how to properly dispose such nasty things. Some batteries have mercury in them and you really don’t want those to end up in the landfill.

All it takes is a bit of time and organisation.

Give it a go!

Sibo

Easter Eggy Fun

Easter Eggs

Maybe you remember that last year we had a blog on how good eggs are for you.  Well… now we are going to have fun playing with the egg shells.

Easter is just a few days away and whilst chocolate eggs are seriously delicious, you can easily make your own Easter eggs for decorations.

For the basics you will need: eggs, paints and a sosatie stick.

Instead of cracking your breakfast egg – carefully make a little hole (using a nail or something sharp) at the top and the bottom of the egg.  You might need three hands to do it without breaking the egg shell – so get somebody to help you.

Hold the egg over a bowl and blow through the hole at the top. The egg should slowly slide out the bottom hole. If it’s really hard – you may need to carefully make the hole a bit bigger at the bottom.

One you’ve blown all the egg out into the bowl, give the egg a wash and let it dry. (If you are in a hurry to get started – use a hairdryer to dry it out.)

Now the fun starts.

Carefully slide your hollow egg onto the sosatie stick (if you don’t have one of these any thin stick will do).  Paint your egg with a base coat colour – something not too dark like yellow or light blue or even white.

Stick it in a pot plant to dry. Once it’s dry you can start decorating it some more. You can make stripes, zig-zags and spots. You can even use some glue and stick beads or glitter onto it.

If you want to be really fancy you can cut little strips of fabric or lace and glue those on too.

Your imagination is the limit. You can make your egg as simple or as fancy as you please.

When the egg is dry you could give it a spray with some clear varnish – if you want to. This will make the egg last longer if you plan on keeping it for some time.

A bowl of these decorated eggs looks really pretty on the table. Or you can leave them on their sticks and put them into pot plants. You can also hang them up or make a mobile.

You could even give one to your parental agent as a special Easter present.

Again – use your imagination!

Best of all – have lots of fun making them.

Have a Happy Easter.

Sibo

Holiday Fun

Sibo T-shirt

I was thinking that a good project to do in the holidays is tie-dying an old white or light coloured T-shirt that is worn out or stained. You can give it a new lease of life by painting it.

You need some fabric paint, old plastic cool drink bottles – with their lids plus a few extra lids, and an old plastic container (like a margarine tub or something), medium sized elastic bands, water, a garbage bag and 4 stones (or something heavy to anchor the bag on the grass).

Maybe it’s best to experiment first with an old pillowcase or something – just until you get the hang of it. Also, it’s fun to team up with some of your friends and get them to buy different colours of fabric paint – that way you can all share.

Take a few teaspoonful’s of one colour of fabric paint and put it in the old container. Add about half a glass of water. Mix it up well. Carefully pour it into one of the cool drink bottles – if there is still paint left in the bottom of the container – add a bit more water, swish it around and add it to the bottle.  Put the lid on the bottle and give it a good shake.

For each different colour of paint – make a separate bottle. Be careful to wash out the container that you mix in each time – otherwise you’ll mix your colours up.

Take the extra lids and make little holes in them – using a nail or something sharp. Replace the whole lids with the holey ones.

Take the item you want to dye, grab a small handful of the fabric and put an elastic band around it. A bit like you are giving your t-shirt a pony tail. Do that all over the shirt – make lots of pony tails.

Spread the black bag on the floor (outside of course, and make sure you are wearing old clothes) put your item down and sprinkle it with colour from a bottle.  Smoosh the paint in with your hands (this is the fun part).  Add more colours if you want to.

Replace the holey lids with whole lids when you are finished. You can use leftover paint again.

Hang the t-shirt on the line to dry.  Wait until it is properly dry before taking off the rubber bands.

Make sure you iron the T-shirt before you wear it – the heat sets the paint so that it does not wash out.

Have fun. Send me pictures if you want to.

Sibo

For more details and pictures visit my other blog.

Fun stuff to do

Sometimes I get bored in the holidays. I mean the first few days are great – you get to sleep in late and don’t have any homework or stuff to do.

Then it gets to when I’ve read and reread all my books and the novelty of sleeping late has worn off.  My beans are growing nicely on their own – all I have to do is water them, talk to them and pick them when they are big enough.

I do go play with friends sometimes, but they are not always around – they also have their own things to do and… some of them go away for the holidays.

I spend time with my dog too – take him for walks, brush him and train him. He’s my best friend and I really love him. I always get so sad when people mistreat their animals. Some people even leave them chained up in their yards or go away without bothering to get somebody to look after them. That’s so bad. I would never do that to my dog.

But even after doing all of the above – I still get bored and that’s when it is great to have some fun stuff to do.

Like what Sibo? I hear you asking…

Well – you all know I like recycling stuff – right? So I found a cool way of making a hanging mobile or a hanging curtain (if you’ve got lots of time and patience) using stuff like plastic bottles, bottle tops, corks, beads, buttons, straws and anything else that’s lying around that you can thread on a string.

You might need one of your parental agents to help you with the plastic bottles. You cut them up into shapes, like circles and squares and triangles using scissors – sometimes make the first cut is the hardest and that’s where you need help. You can also put glue on the plastic and sprinkle sand or glitter on the pieces. Then you thread all the stuff on a piece of string, or wool, or fishing line – whatever you have. Make a knot at the bottom. Put something heavyish on first so that it hangs nicely.

Have fun! Send us  some pictures if you want to.

Go check out what my friend Ginny did: http://sibosays.blog.com/2011/08/16/make-a-cool-beaded-curtain-from-old-plastic-bottles/

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Cool word for the week:

Hah! It’s holidays – you get a break from leaning cool words!!!