By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
It doesn’t have to be cold and rainy outside to want to find fun things to do with kids. Making cress heads is a whimsical craft full of charm and creative entertainment. Cress head eggs provide an outlet for children’s imagination while instilling a love of growing and recycling. Cress head ideas are only limited by their inspiration and some fun decorative touches.
How to Grow a Cress Head
Cress seeds grow very quickly and are a magical way to show seed to food production in a truly short time. Once the plants have grown, they may be eaten, with the resulting “haircuts” as part of the fun! Some tips on how to grow a cress head will get you and your family on their way to enjoying this little growing project.
You can make cress heads in spent eggshells, coir pots, or almost anything else that can be grown in, including egg cartons. Using the egg shells teaches kids about repurposing items that would normally be thrown out or composted. Plus, they have Humpty Dumpty appeal.
Making cress heads is relatively simple by boiling, but should be supervised by an adult. You can dye the eggs or keep them white. Alternatively, you can pierce the shell with a pin and drain out the insides. Just be careful to wash the shell completely before planting or they could get aromatic in a couple of days. Be careful how you crack them, as you need just a little off the top in which to plant.
Cress Head Ideas
Once you have the shell containers, the fun part starts. Decorate each shell with a variety of items. You can simply draw faces on them or add glued on googly eyes, sequins, feathers, stickers, and other items. Once each character is decorated it is time to plant.
Thoroughly moisten cotton balls and place enough in each egg to fill them one third of the way. Sprinkle the cress seeds on top of the cotton and keep them moist by misting daily. Within a couple of days, you will see signs of sprouting.
By ten days, you will have stems and leaves and the cress is ready to eat.
How to Harvest Cress Egg Heads
After you have finished making cress heads and they have a good amount of stem and leaf growth, you can eat them. The best part is giving the eggs a haircut. Use sharp scissors and take off some stems and the leaves.
The classic way to eat cress is in an egg salad sandwich, but you can also add the little seedlings to a salad or eat them as they are.
Your cress will be fine without the leaves for a few days and look rather charming with their haircuts. When the plants stop growing, compost the plants and cotton. Crush up the eggshells and work them into the soil around plants. Nothing is wasted and the activity is a full circle teaching tool.
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Read more about Children's Gardens
Grow your own cress from seed and add ‘hair’ to healthy salad sandwiches in just one week
A final gift from our chickens we decided to create an ‘Egg Head’. An Egg Head is where you sow cress seed into eggshells with faces and watch the cress ‘hair’ grow. Making cress heads has to be the most easiest and most satisfying rainy day afternoon project, no mater your age, you can do it all year round.
To make cress heads, you’ll need:
- Cress seeds
- Egg shells & an egg carton
- Cotton wool or kitchen towel will also work.
- Felt tip pens (we used Sharpies and highlighters)
Step 1. Prepare the egg shells
Wash and dry out left over egg shells (we had an omelette for lunch which used 6 eggs – carefully cracked with this cress head project in mind)
Step 2. Find some pens
Grab an assortment of soft felt tip pens in a variety of colours or you cold go to town with stickers and glitter – its up to you on how wildly creative you’re feeling!
Step 3. Get Arty
Draw a face on an empty egg shell (this is a great task for learning to hold pens and to draw at awkward angles on the surface of an egg).
Step 4. Stuff it Silly
Generously fill the cavity of the egg with cotton wool and gently soak with water (using a jug is ideal). Make sure the cotton wool or kitchen towel is always kept moist.
Step 5. Sprinkle the cress seeds
Sprinkle the cress seeds on top – be generous as you won’t want any bald patches (using a teaspoon helps). Make sure you give the cress seeds a gentle poke to even them out and to get around the edge of the eggshell.
Step 6. Warmth and light
Place your egg heads in a warm sunny spot such as a windowsill. Keep well watered – probably need a drink every day as the cress really soaks up the water once the seeds have germinated.
Step 7. Eat and enjoy!
Cut the cress with scissors when it has grown around 5cm tall.
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Cress egg heads
Cress is delicious in sandwiches. You can grow your own from an empty egg shell. Did you know that one egg can have as many as five yolks – but most have just one!
Ask an adult to help you get these things:
- butter knife
- kitchen roll
- cotton wool or a cotton pad
- cress seeds
- felt-tip pen
- wholemeal bread (to make the sandwich)
Ready to start? Take care – some steps need adult help.
Using the back of a butter knife, crack an egg into a bowl by giving it a firm tap close to the top of the egg. (You can use the egg in the bowl to make scrambled eggs or for baking after you’ve finished).
Carefully separate the two parts of the shell and ask an adult to give the larger part a good wash. This is really important as raw egg can contain things that can make you ill!
Wet a piece of kitchen towel. Screw it up and gently put it inside the shell, making sure you don’t break it.
Next, wet a thin piece of cotton wool or cotton pad and put it on top of the kitchen towel.
Scatter a layer of cress seeds on top of the cotton wool then sprinkle water on top.
Rest the eggshell in the base of your egg box or in an egg cup.
Leave in a warm, light place and sprinkle with drops of water every day – the cress should start to sprout in a few days.
As your cress starts to grow, draw a face on each shell.
Once the cress is about 5cm tall, snip it off with some clean scissors.
Now you can use it to make an egg and cress sandwich!
Watch our Cress Head DIY video:
Over to you… give me your best CAPTION. Says the egg to the egg……
And here is a week or so later.. yummy on an egg mayo sandwich or peanut butter sandwich.
Cress Egg Head People
Cress Egg Head People are great fun to make and also give a daily activity as you need to nurture the cress to make sure it is watered and therefore grows.
You will need:
- Eggs for the empty half egg shells
- Cotton wool
- Cress seeds
- Cardboard Tubes
How do I make the Egg Cress Head People?
- Break an egg in two, empty and keep the egg shells for the heads.
- Fill the half egg shells with cotton wool and dampen with water.
- Sprinkle cress seeds onto the damp cotton wool.
- Put the filled egg shells in little pots facing upwards, place on a window sill and water regularly.
- Watch the cress grow.
- Once grown – draw a face on the egg shell.
- Paint a cardboard tube to make clothes and a body.
- Place the egg cress head onto the decorated cardboard tube to construct your cress egg head people.
For more craft and activity ideas to do at home visit the ‘At Home‘ and ‘Recipe‘ categories.
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You'll also need
Carefully remove the tops from the eggs, leaving the bottom two-thirds of the shells intact. Empty the shells (save the eggs for another time), then carefully wash them out. Decorate the shells with pens or paint, then leave them to dry.
Dip the cotton wool balls in a little water, squeezing off any excess. Place 1 ball inside each shell, then sprinkle 1 tsp cress seeds onto each one. Sit the filled shells in eggcups and leave in a dry, well-lit place for a week – a windowsill is perfect. Your cress will start to grow within a few days, perfect for making egg & cress sarnies!