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Age Range: 7-11 | 5-7
Duration: 30-59 mins
  • D & T
  • Maths
  • Science

DIY Paper planters

Making biodegradable paper containers to grow plants

In celebration of National Earth Day, take part in this exciting and eco-friendly project. Students will explore the theme of sustainability as they embark on a journey to create DIY biodegradable paper planters.

This hands-on activity not only allows learners to express their creativity but also contributes to a greener Earth by promoting the use of biodegradable materials.

Join us in making a positive impact and learning about the importance of taking care of our environment, one plant at a time. Let’s sow the seeds of change together!

Activity introduction

In this engaging activity, participants will harness the theme of National Earth Day to craft their very own biodegradable paper planter. This versatile project can serve as a main lesson activity, offering a practical exploration of concepts like nets and transforming 2D shapes into 3D structures. As a result, it contributes to mathematical learning and fosters skills in designing graphic products.

This activity could also be used within a wider scheme focussing on the use of science to understand the natural environment, where learners plant seeds and observe their growth.

Beyond its academic merits, this endeavour provides a springboard for discussions on environmental consciousness. As the container itself is biodegradable, it starkly contrasts conventional plant pots crafted from polymers – derived from non-renewable oil – which can take centuries to decompose. Creating and utilising these biodegradable paper planters will spark dialogues about sustainable alternatives and underscore the importance of responsible choices in preserving our planet.

This activity also introduces the concept and making of nets in the context of biodegradable planters that can be used to grow seeds. Nets can be used to make three-dimensional shapes from two-dimensional images. This could be used at Key Stage 1 or 2 to introduce nets and develop practical skills.

How long will this activity take?

This activity will take approximately 35-50 minutes to complete. Download the activity sheet below for a step-by-step guide on crafting your DIY paper planter!

What you will need

  • A4 paper

For differentiation:

  • Small jam jars or similar cylindrical objects
  • Biodegradable paper tape (available online)

For planting:

  • Soil/Compost
  • Pack of seeds, e.g. beans, sunflower or lettuce
  • Clingfilm
  • Water


  • Step 1 – Fold the paper in half A-B to C-D.
  • Step 2 – Fold the paper in half again A to B.
  • Step 3 – Fold the corner of B and flatten.
  • Step 4 – Fold corner B back to D.
  • Step 5 – Fold corner C and flatten.
  • Step 6 – Fold corner A back to C.
  • Step 7 – Fold corner A to middle.
  • Step 8 – Fold corner B to middle then fold A over, to the middle.
  • Step 9 – Fold B to the middle and turn the paper over.
  • Step 10 – Repeat steps 7-8 and then fold the top tab down.
  • Step 11 – Fold the other top tab down and then pull the tabs apart.
  • Step 12 – Push the bottom flat inside the planter.

DIY Paper planter example

The engineering context

Nets find application in creating a wide array of cardboard packaging, from uncomplicated cereal boxes to elaborate display boxes featuring transparent polymer windows and display stands. A sizable supermarket could house an abundance of distinct nets, potentially numbering in the hundreds of thousands!

Suggested learning outcomes

By the end of this activity, students will have acquired knowledge regarding National Earth Day. They will grasp the concept of a net, comprehend that 3D shapes can be fashioned from nets through folding and tabs, and be able to craft a basic 3D shape from a 2D net.

Download the free activity sheet below!

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable so that you can tailor them to your students and your schools’ needs.

The activity sheet includes teacher notes, guidance, helpful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in the four devolved UK nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Please share your classroom learning highlights with us @IETeducation

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