Butterfly kite

What: A butterfly kite we made at a multicultural craft stall at a WA Day fair. Unlike the paper origami butterfly in my last post, this flies very well. It’s also constructed in much more detail.

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The first step. Colouring in the butterfly, choosing from a Very Large Pile of textas on the table. You can see the thread bobbin here.

How: ToBeHonest, we didn’t do very much of the making of these. Somebody put in a LOT of effort behind the scenes to make sure dozens of children could swamp the stall at any one time and end up with a working item. We coloured in the butterfly, they stuck on the blue tail and away we went. Here’s some more detail of the construction.

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The finished kite seen from reverse.

It appears to be normal photocopy paper (80gsm weight), they’ve probably photocopied three or four of the butterflies a page. On the back they’ve strengthened the butterfly with a line of tape across the wings and one of those paper-covered wire twist-tie things glued down the spine. Then someone has attached a bobbin of thread to the spine very carefully. That’s what we were handed to colour in. When it was done to Kid 6’s satisfaction (Kid 4 not being willing to try and get near the tent with that many kids elbowing each other), they taped on the tail. As best I can tell, the tail is light plastic – heavier than a shopping bag but not much heavier – that’s been cut into streamers by someone with a lot of patience (or maybe put through a shredder?) and then four or five of those streamers have been stuck together somehow. They had a little bit of double sided tape on them so that all the stall person needed to do was remove the protective paper and push it on and there you go, instant tail.

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Two Kid 6s running through the fair with their finished butterfly kites. Taller people get more height on the kites more easily. 

They did fly quite well. The stallholder demonstrated and had it flying steadily quite easily. The Kid 6s I observed needed a little more practice – familiarity with kites would help I think! But they do flutter satisfactorily too. We had some issues with the bobbins of thread – nothing unexpected, just easy to lose sight of or to accidentally tangle around the kite (which being light paper is relatively fragile and able to be cut by thread that’s given a good yank). But they worked reasonably well too.

Grass seed picture

What: A picture “coloured in” with glue and collected grass seeds.

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The placing of glue and seeds is a little imprecise, though if you have the patience to do a bit, let it dry and come back for the next bit you can get more precision. We didn’t.

How: First, I and Kid 3 went out into the garden and collected seeds. We found different kinds of grass – there are several kinds of tussock and weed grasses in our overgrown back yard – and collected handfuls of seeds from each in different bowls. TBH, I did a lot of the prompting and collecting here, including sneaking back out and getting more of the kind that were most different, though Kid 3 thought they did it all. All with lots of conversation about the colour and size and differences. Then we went inside with our loot.

Inside, the bowls gathered dust sitting on the table for a day or two while Kid 3 “played” with them (i.e. talked about them to anyone who came near). Then I drew a picture on a piece of cardboard with big black marker (Kid 3 requested “a house”), and one section at a time we applied glue, then tipped seeds of a particular kind into the segment and spread them around with a popstick. I say “we” because glue and tippy things with a Kid 3 generally involves some “assistance” to make sure results match intentions (both yours and theirs). It took a couple of hours to fully dry, even though it was poked regularly to check.

Extras: You could do this with spices, or left over garden seeds from different kinds of plants – grass seeds have some commonalities, but seeds from the daisy/lettuce family or from the salvias or poppies or brassicas or umbrella herbs (parsley, celery, dill etc) can all be quite different in shape and kind while being similar within the family. You could draw patterns or shapes instead of a picture. And if picking the seeds together just doesn’t work out, taking a mixed bowl you’ve prepared beforehand and sorting or sieving them into different kinds might be fun too (depending on seed type).

Mosaics on sticks

What: quick kids craft activity sticking tiny tiles on pre-cut shapes with good wood glue.

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Star by Kid 4 (who dislikes things with people in them), person by Kid 6 (who always likes things with people in them).

How: This was a short craft activity we did at the local arts centre’s stall at the local council’s Harmony Day multicultural fair, led by one of their mosaic teachers. The shapes-on-sticks were basically craft popsticks sourced from craft supplies somewhere. The glue is a good-quality wood glue, repoured into kids’ glue bottles for the use of tiny hands. The tiny tiles come just like that, no cutting or sharp edges required, and they’re a good size for a kids’ project like this. She said, however, that there’s only one place in this city you can buy them (and if you’ve ever shopped for replacement or specialist tiles for something, it’s the store you will have heard of). So some careful sourcing of materials for this activity is required. The kids took about five to seven minutes to make their item, it took ten minutes of my carefully holding them flat inside little ziplock bags while we walked around the fair for the glue to be mostly set, and a few hours to be fully dry.

Extras: Doing this with paper squares on paper (as in my previous post), colouring squares on graph paper to create a picture, tiling Smarties or lollies on biscuits or cookie dough – any other mosaic-related activity really. Because this was for Harmony Day, the stall at the fair had a poster wall with big pictures of cool mosaics from lots of countries (and time periods) around the world, and the mosaic teacher took the kids around to the posters and they talked a bit about the mosaics and guessed / chatted about which countries they came from. So that cultural and historical context and looking at different styles is a possibility too.

Easter/Spring Chick Balloons

What: Fluffy chicks made on/from a balloon.

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Kid 6’s on the right, with surprising attention to bird face detail; kid 4’s and mine on the left, with fewer ruffles.

How: Blow up and tie a yellow balloon. We had pale and gold balloons and ended up with one of each. I also had a card of yellow lace that the local fabric/craft shop was getting rid of in a $5/card sale. It took about a metre and a half of lace per balloon, cut into three pieces of varying length. Tape the lace around the balloon in layers so that the ruffles hang down. This is not as easy as it sounds. Kid 4 did a great job of concentrating but grew tired of it after three rounds of ruffles, Kid 6 liked the idea of as much ruffle as possible but really needs more Mad Stickytape Skillz so four was their limit. If you can, get the top layer of ruffle around the approximate middle of the balloon.

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If you can, do the smallest/lowest ruffles first and work upwards. It’s tricky because you want to hold the balloon upside down, which makes the lace upside down.

Then, draw a chick face on with permanent markers. I made the mistake of sending Kid 4 to raid my pen drawer for them, and they came back with all the pointy-tipped ones – and then managed to pop their balloon with one on the very last bit of drawing. There were many tears. Gentle is the order of the day, and possibly broad-tip pens! I blew and taped a replacement balloon so that they could both finish their project.

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Two more Kid 6s came and made one each. They refused yellow balloons.

Extras: This was part of a morning of Easter crafts, where we did a whole bunch of egg and chick type activities (mostly $2 kits from the supermarket or chemist). Two more Kid 6s came over as we were nearing the end, and made themselves each a balloon too – a funny-face egg and a blue chick. They were very surprised to discover that we were using permanent markers and they couldn’t change their faces once drawn – that might be an interesting variation, to use normal textas and tell stories with changing emotions on the faces.

Eggs, chicks and religion: I don’t always focus on the egg side of things, because Easter here is not at nesting time – it just happened that way this year. We’ve had conversations before about whether you see nests and eggs in trees at this time of year, at the spring equinox as well as Easter, and we might have a conversation about that later today again. As a non-Christian household I don’t go into the symbolism of rebirth at this point or discuss “the real meaning of Easter”. I stick to seasonal observations as much as I can with the kids. And today I choose to smile and skate past Kid 6’s determined pronouncements that a pet rabbit will hatch from their egg.

Year of the Snake

What: A red and gold snake wall decoration for the Chinese New Year.

About: This is something I did with Kid 3 and Kid 1 back in the Year of the Snake. We were making a point of noticing seasons, seasonal festivals and changes throughout the year in that age bracket, partly because we’d moved to a new state and new climate, and also because that’s part of my basic grounding in druid practice.

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Year of the Snake wall decoration made with plastic plates, marker and alphabet stickers.

How: I got a pack of red plastic disposable plates from the supermarket and we each decorated a few plates, then I put them on the wall under the supervision of Kid 3. I wanted something gold for decorating and couldn’t find any gold markers or stickers except for one pack of alphabet stickers. Between that and the black marker we managed a few random decorativenesses, with no particular structure other than sticking to the traditional colours. I cut a couple of the plates to make the extra shapes. Kid 3 did this with some enjoyment, Kid 1 with a minimal engagement before wandering away to their own devices.