This cute caterpillar from Gardening for Kids will look really great on your windowsill and, even better, it will grow delicious cress that you can snip off and add to salads or sandwiches. You can play around with the colour and size of your caterpillar by using half a longer egg box or selecting different coloured paints, food dyes, and pipe cleaners.
You will need:
1 egg box (half-dozen size)
green poster paint
green food colouring
3 eggshell halves
3 green pipe cleaners
1 black pipe cleaner
pair of googly eyes
absorbent cotton wool
1. Cut an egg box base in half lengthwise and then trim down the sides. Paint one half green with the poster paint and leave it to dry. This will be your caterpillar’s body.
2. Fill the bowl with water, add a few drops of the green food colouring, and drop in the three eggshell halves. Leave these for 30 minutes to dye, then take them out and let them dry on some paper towels.
3. Put a ball of modelling clay inside the egg box and then, using the pencil, poke holes into the clay through the sides. Move the clay along as you go until you have made three holes on each side for the caterpillar’s legs and two at the front for the antennae.
4. Thread the three green pipe cleaners through from one side to the other so that the legs on each side are of the same length, and then bend them downward.
5. Thread the black pipe cleaner through both holes in the front of the egg box so that the antennae are the same length, and then bend them upward. Glue the googly eyes onto the front of the caterpillar.
6. Put the dried eggshell halves into the spaces along the caterpillar’s back and fill each one with a ball of absorbent cotton (cotton wool) that you have dampened in a bowl of clean water.
7. Empty some cress seeds onto a small plate and, once all of the damp absorbent cotton (cotton wool) balls are in place, carefully sprinkle the seeds on top of the balls. You should see the cress seeds germinating within a day and your crop of little cress plants will be ready to cut and eat within 3–5 days.
Tip: Keep a small pitcher of water by the caterpillar and add a little to the eggshells every day to ensure that the absorbent cotton doesn’t dry out. Try this... You could also have a go at growing mustard seeds in your caterpillar instead.