I have been in pretty good control of my Alpha Mom Syndrome this fall. I have not signed up for anything more than I committed to prior to the fall and that has helped me keep my days from overwhelming me (somewhat). But when the opportunity arose to help our newly reborn after-school enrichment program at our elementary school (not to mention help my BFF who was chairing it), I couldn’t keep my hand from going up and my mouth from shouting, “I’ll do it!” Oh crap, another commitment. But this time, I’m excited about it! First of all, it’s the first time in 13 years that I have said “yes” and got paid for it (wait, that sounds wrong). What I mean is that I said yes, and it was not to a volunteering position! I am teaching a class in a subject I love: Crafting! I got to pick what I taught, and what age group I allowed to participate and what day I was free to do it. What could be better than doing something on my terms? So I chose to teach a class I named Upcycled Crafting. The kids (I let in everyone so it’s Kindergarteners through fifth graders participating) will use items normally (hopefully) put in the recycling bin or (hopefully not) the trash to make new toys, games, or objet d’art (for those of you who can’t read French, that’s a fancy phrase for refrigerator art or crap for grandma). The class meets for seven Wednesdays and the first one met last week. It was a blast! The kids were creative and enthusiastic and we had lots of fun.
For the first week, I wanted to keep it simple because I didn’t know what the ability level would be of the one kindergartener and one first grader that signed up (everyone else was older). I also wanted to do something that they could take home on the first day so their parents wouldn’t think they were wasting their money. I had been collecting all of my recyclables for a few weeks and now I just had to come up with something…. I had about 300 yellow plastic bags that I had saved from a fundraiser I was running (okay, now I sound like a hoarder, but I promise, all of this collecting was for this class) and the guilt of them ending up in a landfill was just too much for me to bear. So in a stream of conscious thinking, beginning with a commercial for a Toy Story Halloween special, I figured out the perfect craft to craft: Parachute people!
I started with the cardboard toilet paper rolls and the plastic bags that I collected, along with a few art supplies. Here’s the list in case you would like to make these with your kids:
Washable paint or acrylic craft paint
Cotton kitchen twine
Cardboard toilet paper roll
Plastic shopping bag (like the ones from the supermarket)
Make sure to check the shopping bag for holes. If the air can get through the bag, the parachute person will plummet rather than float. First, paint the toilet paper roll any color you wish. Most of the girls chose pink while the two boys in the class chose yellow and then covered the yellow with blue. Craft paint dries very quickly, so after a few minutes, we moved on to the next step: Drawing our “people”. I used washable broad and thin markers but you can use crayons, pens, or whatever else you trust your kids to use without ruining their clothes or the kitchen table. Next, we used the tiniest drop of glue to add googly eyes – fun but not necessary if you don’t have them.
After the people are drawn, use the scissor to poke a hole on either side of the tube about an inch from the top and directly across from each other. Next, cut two 9-inch pieces of kitchen twine. I used the cotton because it was the lightest and wouldn’t add much weight to the the tube. Thread one end of a piece of twine through one hole of the tube and tie a double knot. Do the same with the other piece of twine. Then tie the other end of the twine to one handle of the plastic bag and do the same on the other side.
The final step is to play with them! We were at school, but it was after hours, so I let the kids stand on the tables and let their parachutes go. They had a blast!
What a fun time I had working on this project with the kids. It was also a great opportunity to teach them about recycling, and when possible, reusing items in order to reduce waste. I have another class this week and I have a few ideas in this crazy brain of mine. I will share them with you as I come up with them.
So I want to know, what kind of upcycled crafting have you done? If you have good ideas to share, I just may “borrow” one from you!