PRIMETIME WITH KIDS: Make a twig basket for spring plants

Courtesy photo of a twig basket. Want to make one?

It’s spring! Earth Day is coming up on April 22, and Arbor Day is the 27th. Here’s a fun family craft that combines all three. It gets you outside, with your eye on nature’s beauty for collecting and crafting a simple twig basket. Head out into a park, or your own block or backyard with your kids on a windy day or after a rainstorm, and collect the sticks and twigs you find here and there on the ground. You might think of this activity as nature’s game of “pick-up sticks.”

When you get home with your preschoolers and school-age kids, sort through the collection, and turn the straightest sticks that are a quarter-inch or so wide into a lovely, earthy basket to hold a potted indoor plant or succulent. The attractive natural container also might be handy to hold fresh fruit on your kitchen counter or table.

Here’s the stuff you need for a twig basket that holds a 4-inch planting pot:

* 33 sticks, 7 inches long, about 1/4 inch thick (to cut sticks into equal lengths, score with scissors, then snap off excess. Trim any pointy ends with pruning shears)

* 1 18-inch-long thin, pliable stick for the handle

* Twine

* Nontoxic wood glue or a low-temp glue gun

To construct the base:

* Arrange four sticks into a square on a newspaper-covered table or counter, with a 1-inch overlap at each corner. Dab nontoxic wood glue or glue from a glue gun at each corner.

* Tie each corner with a 4-foot piece of twine. Knot it in the middle and let the long ends dangle.

* To make the bottom of the basket, glue three twigs in a row 1 inch apart to the square base. Secure each twig to the base with a 1-foot twine piece. Trim excess.

To make the sides:

* Dab glue on the twine at each corner. Lay four sticks in a square, log-cabin style, then tie corners as before. Continue layering and tying until you’ve used all of the 7-inch sticks.

To make the handle

* Bend the 18-inch stick to make a handle. Secure at opposite corners with glue and twine. Tie excess twine into a small bow.

* Set your favorite growing plant inside.

Donna Erickson’s award-winning series “Donna’s Day” is airing on public television nationwide.

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