Hot Air Balloons

So, I’m obsessed with the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque.  My husband and I went in October (book yourself a ticket for next year ASAP), and absolutely loved it- the festival, and New Mexico in general.  We also went to Ghost Ranch, where Georgia O’Keeffe visited and painted (and eventually bought a home near), so stay tuned for a few O’Keeffe-inspired lessons too.  Here is a paper mache hot air balloon lesson, complete with pics from our trip to show your students!  I can’t figure out how to upload a video I created, so contact me through my site if you’d like me to send it to you (it shows the balloons in action, being inflated, and landing).

Materials

bowl, water, flour, balloon, tempera paint, (I love these, especially if you can find the neon colors!), newspaper or recycled copy paper, string, berry basket (I bought these), OPTIONAL–> masking tape, cup, fishing wire, brad

  1. mix flour and water in a bowl- I have never measured this and it has always worked (sorry!), but it’s aboouut 1 tablespoon of flour to 1/2 cup of water
  2. cut papers into about one inch strips (can be any length, for little hands I wouldn’t do larger than 12 inches)
  3. blow up balloon as big as you want! and if you need to keep it still and from rolling, tape it to a disposable (or not) cup or bowl as a stand
  4. dip a strip into the mixture, scoot extra mixture down off of strip so that it drips back into bowl, and drape the wet strip onto the balloon
  5. repeat until the whole balloon is covered (maybe even twice, definitely some parts overlapping)
  6. let it dry! should take about 8 hours or overnight
  7. paint, and let that dry
  8. attach the basket – I wrapped the string around masking tape, taped that inside the ballon, then covered the masking tape with duct tape and tied the loose end to the basket
  9. if you want to hang them from the ceiling, you can push a brad through the top and use fishing wire (tied around the brad) so it looks like it’s floating

*Neon tempera paints make this really cute.  You can talk with the children about different designs and patterns ahead of time, using my pictures (scroll down) as inspiration.  Also, when I used newspaper I actually painted them with a coat of white chalk paint so the temperas would have a fresh bright base.  With the white recycled copy paper, there was no need so that saved some time and paint.

smallforsite-6

The fiesta lasts a whole week and starts each day with “Dawn Patrol,” where the first balloons take off before sunrise and they GLOW.  It’s … so beautiful.

smallforsite-4.jpg

My kids loved seeing the different kinds of balloons, as well as learning about the gondolas (the baskets hanging from each balloon).  There is so much you could do with this lesson- the gondolas are hand-woven with wicker so you could also incorporate weaving.

It was wild watching so many trucks just drive through the open field (which was full of festival-goers), unload, ask people to scoot back, and inflate their balloons!  Balloon Fiesta forever!

 

Easy Sculptures

flower arrangement foam or styrofoam cut in small cubes, pipe cleaners of different colors and lengths, beads, foam paper, scissors

small-5285.jpg

  1. push a pipe cleaner into the styrofoam- can leave straight, or bend into different types of lines, can also poke the second end into the styrofoam too
  2. decorate with beads
  3. cut shapes from foam paper and push them onto pipe cleaner like a bead
  4. repeat!

These are so simple and the children are really engaged in the process.  Michael’s sells little jewelry boxes and the last time I did this with kids, I cut the foam to fit inside the box for a finished touch.  (I also bought a styrofoam cutter but it is possible to cut with a knife!)

Dream Catchers

embroidery hoops (these are 6 and 8 inch and I love the look with 6), markers or washi tape, yarn or ribbon, wooden beads, plastic needles

  1. decorate the wooden hoops with marker (these images also show some decorated with washi tape but it is tricky for kids to wrap it tightly enough to stick)
  2. attach decorative hanging pieces of yarn by folding one piece in half, holding by the loop, placing loop under the hoop, putting loose ends of yarn piece over hoop and through loop, and pulling! (directions I tell kids- so simple- see picture and video)
  3. add as many hanging pieces as you’d like
  4. use the plastic beading needle to thread beads onto hanging yarn and tie off the last one on each strand
  5. tie a long piece of yarn to the hoop and wrap around until there is only enough left to tie off, creating the web- I think less is more regarding the web because if kids play with it (it’s a jellyfish! it’s a hat with hair! etc) the web can come undone into a loose tangle and you’ll have to stretch it back to be taut again (this is also why we do the web part last)

I did this with 4-7 year olds so we kept it simple so they could work independently, but there are lots of ways to embellish and make these really fun for all ages!  Here is Art Bar‘s version, and Meri Cherry‘s.


 

 

Inspired by Alexander Calder

I found this lesson on Dick Blick, and modified it for my students who are much younger than the lesson’s intended students. I drew the shapes on the metallic paper, and the children used air dry clay instead of styrofoam for the base. You can click over to read the lesson, but since I changed it I will include my supply list here (paper, colored wooden beads, and thick wire from Dick Blick).  Check this post for Alexander Calder children’s books.

air dry clay, wire, Twisteez, wooden and plastic beads, metallic paper, white glue, brushes for glue