Okay, so maybe I didn't take as many good photos as I'd originally thought... but anyway, for whatever it's worth, here goes a mini tutorial to let you know how I made the little plantable flower favors for Jessie's preschool class. It's kind of a multi-step process, you can split it up if your kiddos are going to be helping and have a short attention span. There are papermaking kits out there that you can buy that have much better directions than mine, and probably lots of great videos and online tutorials too - so please go check them out if I end up utterly confusing you.
First, you'll need to find some paper you were about to relegate to the recycle bin, mostly non-glossy (though you can put in a bit of that, too). We used some construction paper from old preschool homework projects, and the corner of one of those drink holders they give you at the fast food places when you haven't got enough hands... The size of the pieces isn't a horribly big deal, because next you'll be getting out the machinery. Well, actually, I take that back. If you're using super thick stuff like the drink holder, I think you probably do want to rip it up so the pieces are no bigger than oh, say your thumbnail, or your blender might not like you too much.
So then, yes, pull out an old blender - preferably from the thrift store and not one you'll ever use for margaritas again. If you don't want to mess up your blender, you could probably get away with ripping up your pieces really really reeeally small and letting it all soak in a bucket of water overnight. But my kids (and I) are not that patient, and I made my own paper way back before I was married so I already owned a messed up blender. Put a couple of handfuls of ripped up paper into the blender, then fill about three-quarters of the way with water. Hit the button and mash it up until it looks like a smoothie. Puree is the right setting on mine...
It doesn't look attractive, I know. But you're going to pour it into a dishpan and probably make at least another batch. I have my well-used tub filled about halfway. As you can see from the grey sides, if you use junk mail or stuff that already has printing on it, the ink will run and that's just something you need to be aware of. Obviously, this isn't an exact science - at least not for me, anyway.
The rest of the supplies you'll need are a sponge, some muslin or other cheap cloth (keep in mind whatever texture your cloth is, that's the texture you'll have on your paper - mine is smooth), and some wooden frames. The size of your frame will determine the size of your paper.
One of your frames is simply a wooden rectangle, or whatever shape you want, really. The other frame has a very fine mesh stapled to it. You're going to hold the two frames together, the mesh one on the bottom with the mesh side up (staples facing you) and then the other one stacked on top. You'll dunk the frames into your washtub, letting the paper pulp settle onto the frames. Move gently from side to side so that you get even coverage, and here's where you add the seeds, and need a couple of extra hands. You could also pour the seeds into the tub after you add the pulp and mix it up inside the basin (with your hands, don't put the seeds in the blender of course), but I just wanted to make sure you could see them lying on top of the paper. Then lift straight up, and let it drain, using the sponge from the underside to wick away as much water as possible. Then, carefully remove the top frame and turn the mesh frame with the paper on it face down onto your cloth. Use the sponge to press down on the back of the mesh frame, removing as much moisture as you can, and repeat until you can't wring out your sponge any more. Start pulling the frame up from a corner, and the paper should come away from the mesh easily, sticking to the cloth on the bottom.
Take the cloth with the newly-made, still-wet paper on it, set it by a window in the sunlight, allow to dry, and then the paper will peel right off the muslin. If you don't put seeds in, you can even iron your paper and it will be dry almost instantly (again, that patience thing). But, of course, if you have seeds you can't do that!
When everything was dry, I cut out a cute shape, traced on the back of the paper (less seed interference that way) and cut. You could certainly use a die cutter or paper punch. That would be much smarter.
I printed up some simple tags so the parents would know what to do with these, and cut them into strips.
I looped the strips and used a water soluble glue stick to attach them onto the backs of the flowers. In retrospect, I think they would have been cuter with green paper, maybe even cut to look like leaves. Anyway, they were pretty simple, even though my directions may not make it seem so. Please email if you have questions, I didn't mean to confuse anyone. I hadn't expected to explain the whole papermaking process, just the adding seeds part and how I made them into favors!
Happy Earth Day, everyone.