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Plant a Memory

Plant a Memory Activity

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If you're like most parents, you've logged bunches of hours finding kids' lost shoes. Somehow, no matter how organized you are, they have a way of migrating under couches and lawn chairs just when you need them most. At moments like that, it's tempting to settle for bare feet! But then comes the bittersweet moment when your child outgrows those pesky Keds, and suddenly they look so very cute and precious, and you are overcome with nostalgia. After all, your child will never be quite that little again. Want to preserve those memories this Mother's Day? Here's a way to “gild” your child's discarded shoes for a “green” keepsake gift that honors the past, while nurturing sprouts for the future.

What You Need:

  • Pair of discarded, well-loved kid sneakers
  • Container of Modge Podge outdoor decoupage glue—available in craft stores
  • Paintbrush
  • Can of gold spray paint
  • Small bag of potting soil, available at hardware stores or nurseries
  • Six-pack or a couple of 4-inch pots of small spring flowers, such as mini-carnations, primroses, pansies, miniature snapdragons or dianthus, all of which are bright and compact
  • Optional: decorative sphagnum moss to cover potting soil around plant roots

What You Do:

  1. First, make sure that the sneakers you choose are clean and dry. Your glue and paint need to stick directly to the surface of your shoes!
  2. Lay your shoes on a surface protected by a plastic cloth, preferably outdoors. After all, you'll be messing with glue, paint, and dirt—irresistible to kids, maybe, but not so fun on your dining room table.
  3. Now it's time to break out your “Modge Modge” glue. This is a water based, acrylic sealer, available in all sorts of varieties at your local craft store. Note: for this project, your best bet is the “outdoor” type. Your child can paint it on, and it will harden into a waterproof, protective layer. Have your child cover the entire outside of the shoe, as well as the parts of the inside that she can reach with the brush, and aim for at least two coats.
  4. When the glue has dried, you will have a pair of stiff, preserved, waterproof shoes. You can use them as is, but for an extra-festive touch, you can also paint them with gold spray paint. Just take them outdoors to a well protected, well-ventilated area. They end up looking “gilded”—but at a fraction of the cost, and with the added bonus of having been created by your child!
  5. To finish off your “shoe planters,” have your child stuff the inside of the shoe with potting soil, and then let her place 1-2 blooming seedlings in the shoe's opening. Miniature carnations in red, pink, and white are classics for mother's day, but you and your child can plant whatever you like. This time of year, local nurseries carry a wide range of lovely spring flowers that will work just great.
  6. When you're done, your plant may cover all visible dirt, but if you've got any of it showing, try adding a bit of decorative sphagnum moss. With regular, gentle watering, your seedlings should last several weeks, and then you can even replant them outdoors. Your sneaker planters, meanwhile, can be rinsed gently and refilled many times over.

So this year, present your homemade “green” gift to Mom with pride and joy. Get ready for smiles—and plenty of happy nostalgia, too.

Julie Williams, M.A. Education, taught middle and high school History and English for seventeen years. Since then, she has volunteered in elementary classrooms while raising her two sons and earning a master's in school administration. She has also been a leader in her local PTA.

Updated on Oct 17, 2012
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See more activities in: Kindergarten, Mother's Day
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