Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Kids enjoy art at 4-H garden

August 2, 2001
Grand Blanc resident Kevin Ingram, 5, and LaPeer resident Justin Adams, 13, paint the scenery around the Michigan 4-H Children —

Soaked from head to toe, 4-year-old Mason resident Adrienne Hough grinned from cheek to cheek.

“I like the frogs,” Hough said, as she danced under the squirts of water coming from cement frogs, one of the features in the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden.

Hough was one of about 50 children who enjoyed art under the hot sun during the garden’s “Art Day.”

Mason resident Karen Krepps said she took the morning off from work to spend the day with her grandchildren, Jacob and Faith Krepps.

“It’s great,” the elder Krepps said. “They’re becoming familiar with the flowers and plants and each time we come here, they’re like, ‘Look Grandma,’ and they’ll lead me to something new. Every time they come, something new attracts their attention.”

The Art Day was part of the garden’s educational outreach programs, which are meant to familiarize children with plant science, said horticulture Associate Professor Norm Lownds, the garden’s curator. MSU students and faculty work in the garden as curators and designers.

Jacob Krepps, 8, proudly showed off his watercolor painting and a bracelet he made out of flowers.

“They’re little artists,” Karen Krepps said.

But Jacob’s favorite part of the day wasn’t the art he took home - he said he liked the sugar cookies he designed and ate.

“I put lots of layers of frosting on them,” he said.

Stations were set up around the garden for kids to participate in crafts like painting, making paper, magnets and bracelets.

Painting her own watercolor version of Monet’s many garden paintings, Liz Monroe, a 2001 MSU graduate, encouraged the kids to paint their own watercolor splashes representing rainbows, butterflies and flowers.

“We try to get the kids to have fun and learn about the garden,” Monroe said.

Monroe said the garden hosts weekly activities like Stories in the Garden, Bug Day and Multicultural Day, to encourage hands-on learning.

“We’re trying to make the Children’s Garden a valuable resource for learning,” she said.

In a tree house providing shade from the hot sun, several kids enjoyed paper-making.

Jodi Songer, a horticulture senior, explained the process to the kids and parents. Songer used marigolds and other flowers to create a natural dye. The recycled paper and various plants were mixed in a blender and poured into tubs for kids to access for paper-making.

“Are you ready to get your hands dirty?” Songer said to an eager handful of kids who placed their hands into the wet, mushy goo. The kids used knitting frames to gather the mixture and placed the drying paper on felt. In the gold-hued paper, flowers and pieces of recycled letters could be seen.

At a table, kids learned the art of magnet-making. Using a hammer to imprint a flower onto a cloth, they made colorful designs on the cloth and then glued magnets to the cloth.

Lownds said it’s great to see the students interact with the kids.

“The kids love it and the parents enjoy it,” Lownds said.

Lownds said his goal is for the gardens to develop as a community center focused around plants.

Parents agreed it was a great learning resource.

“We were looking for something to do to get out of the house,” said Amy Hough, Adrienne’s mother. “The kids love playing and learning.”

Hough watched as her kids played on the musical chimes and the shrubbery mazes.

But it was the water coming from the squirting frogs that were her kids’ favorite.

“We’re going to have to ring you out before you leave,” she said, of Adrienne’s water-logged clothes.

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