Get your green on! In this activity, your child will learn about a style of gardening that uses moss, also called “Kokedama,” to make one of her own for a “hanging string garden.” This gardening trend is a great way to learn about not just plant life, but basic physics concepts as well.
Small, shade-tolerant plant like a baby fern or certain grasses
½ cup measure
Yarn or twine
Moss, collected from yard, forest, or purchased at a plant shop
What You Do:
Explain to your child that “kokedama” means “moss ball” in Japanese. It is a way of gardening that covers the plant’s roots with moss and then a ball of soil and moss around that. String can be added to hang and display the finished product!
To start, help your child remove dirt from the plant by tapping the plant gently, leaving mostly the plant head and the plant roots.
Help her combine two different soils by measuring 3 ½ cups of peat soil and mixing that together with 1 ½ cups of bonsai soil. She should mix the soils well and add about ½ cup of water to wet the mixture.
Next she’ll form a ball shape with the soil, as if rolling up cookie dough into a ball. She can add more water if needed to hold the soil together in a ball shape. The ball should be big enough that the plant roots will fit inside of it.
Using collected or purchased moss, she should wrap some moss around the plant roots.
Next, have her poke a hole in the soil ball and insert the plant roots inside, then reform the ball shape around the plant roots.
She can also decorate the outside of the soil ball by plastering moss all around it.
Finally, she’ll wrap her twine around the ball several times to help attach the moss. Leaving a length of yarn above the ball allows her to hang and display the finished “kokedama.”
Hang the ball in a shady place. Water it as needed by spraying mist on it. Enjoy your unusual hanging garden!
Beth Levin has an M.A. in Curriculum and Education from Columbia University Teachers College. She has written educational activities for Macmillan/McGraw-Hill and Renaissance Learning publishers. She has a substitute teaching credential for grades K-12 in Oregon, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.