Make Seed Tapes with Your Kids

If you garden, you probably know what a seed tape is – a strip of paper with the seeds already embedded in it. You just dig a row, lay the tape in it, and cover with dirt, planting done. I love seed tapes. But I don’t love the price. They run about $5 for 16 inches of tape. And, they are super easy to make yourself. I have made them in the past, but this is the first year that I decided to get Monkey involved in helping to make them.

Here is what you need:

A roll of paper towels, cornstarch, seeds (we did lettuce, carrot, radish and basil) and a plastic baggie.

You also need this.

OK, so you don’t NEED a rotary cutter, cutting mat and cutting guide. You could use a pair of scissors, and I have in the past. But if you have this equipment, use it. It makes it so much easier – your strips are even  and your hand doesn’t start to cramp. 

This also makes it easier if you are working with a kiddo – an empty  squeeze bottle to put your “glue” in. If you don’t have a squeeze bottle, you can use a plastic baggie instead – just pour your glue in, and cut a TINY triangle off one of the bottom corners of the bag, and squeeze like a pastry bag.

1. Make your glue. This is an adults only step. Combine 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1 cup of water, heat to boiling and let it thicken to a glue like consistency. Remove from heat and, optionally, stir in one drop of food coloring so your kiddo can better see what he is doing with the glue – I picked up this genius tip from this tutorial. I should point out here that you can make your glue from flour and water, and you don’t have to cook it, which makes it easier. But I would imagine that it would have to be wheat flour, with gluten in it, to work. I could be wrong, but I don’t see rice flour doing the trick. And we don’t have any wheat flour in our house, so corn starch it is.

2. Also an adults only step, lay out your towels and cut into strips 2 inches wide. I used a length of three paper towels.

3. After you have your strips cut, use a pen to make  dots on your strips to indicate where your kid should put the glue. Just don’t use a Sharpie on your counter without putting anything underneath the paper towels. I am still waiting for my husband to notice the row of black dots on our countertop. Whoops.

4. This is where your kiddo comes in. Have him or her put a dot of glue on each pen dot. Remember that this is excellent fine motor practice, and if you are working with preschoolers, it will look like this. Don’t worry. It’s not rocket science – precision isn’t key here.

5. Turn your kid loose with the seeds. While we worked, we had fun talking about how something so tiny could turn into a carrot or radish or lettuce.

Since these things are so tiny, I stuck them in a bowl for him to hold.

Having a wet washcloth handy is a good idea, because your kid will end up gluing the seeds to his hand.

6. After you put seeds into each glue dot, take another strip of paper and place on top, smooshing it down. Let dry and voila, you have seed tapes.

I was using supplies that I already had on hand (seeds were leftover from previous years) so this project cost me nothing. But even if you were buying the supplies:

Paper towels –  $o.50 (not even, you don’t use much of a roll)

Seeds  – $4.00 (I have found seeds for .99 a package, and you won’t use an entire package)

Cornstarch –  I guesstimate $0.20

For a total of $4.70, which makes a whole lot more that 16 inches of seed tape.

I can’t wait to have a chance to plant these with Monkey. Seed tapes also make planting easier for kids!

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