Needle Felted Cats

wool roving, felting needles, chip board, tape, yarn, felt, scissors, clothespins

  1. unravel the wool but don’t let the children pinch it apart into bits of fuzz- ours came wrapped like a pretzel
  2. roll it up like a yoga mat
  3. place a clothespin somewhere on the rolled little ball of wool to act as a handle (and minimize the possibility of children poking their hands)
  4. poke the ball of wool several times so that it becomes stuck in the shape of a ball- you can help the child rotate the clothespin so that the ball rotates and they poke from different sides **IMPORTANT: The felting needles are very dangerous and sharp (I poked myself several times because I was going too fast), so I only let two children do this at a time while I was sitting with them so I could monitor their poking. I made sure they only held on by the clothespin (if they were holding the ball by the wool they would likely poke themselves), and that they were using the needles gently and with control.  I also taped three needles to a piece of chip board to make each poke count for three, and to make it easier to hold for the children.  I did this with 26 four and a half and five year olds and no one got poked at all!***
  5. once the ball seems like it will not come undone, wrap it in one more 2 oz piece of wool roving and repeat the poking to attach it
  6. the children can add the tail with a little piece of yarn (still holding by the clothespin), by placing the yarn on the ball and poking to attach it
  7. I folded the ears out of felt, and also attached them (with a teensy help from the kids), the nose (a little bit of wool folded into a triangle), and eyes (cut felt shapes) for the children.  For attaching the ears, I found it was the sturdiest when I cut a little crack in the ball where an ear would go, then placed the ear in the crack and poked where they join.

*** If you work with older kids you could possible let more than two do it at a time, but the needles truly are very sharp so be mindful.

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In one of the above pictures, you can see a basket.  I just used a breaking basket to make the ears, but you could use some type of foam (there is a specific kind for felting, actually) or anything else that lets you poke through the felt.

 

Paper Mache Animal Heads

Materials: pencil, paper, chip board or cardboard, wire, masking tape, bowl, water, flour, newspaper or recycled copy paper, tempera or acrylic paint, (I love these, especially if you can find the neon colors!)

  1. have pictures available of a variety of animals or an ipad/printer for viewing them as children decide which animal to be inspired by (you could also tie this in to a culture or geography-inspired unit and study specific animals)
  2. draw animal face/head with pencil- think about all the parts of the face and details for each part
  3. using the cardboard as a base (I cut the pieces into about 5 inch rectangles (you could also do ovals, or U shapes kind of like little shields) crumble newspaper to create the head form and any snout/ears/etc.
  4. tape the pieces together, and use wire as needed. make sure all is securely taped to your base
  5. trim any extra cardboard (especially if you have corners sticking out) from the base
  6. add paper mache (aboouuut 1 tablespoon of flour to 1/2 cup of water) all over the newspaper/wire form by dipping 1 inch (doesn’t need to be exact) strips of copy or newspaper into flour+water mixture, sliding fingers down the strip to get excess water off, and draping+pressing onto the form
  7. repeat until front, sides, and back of form are covered in paper mache
  8. when dry, you can add paint
  9. add a small screw eye to a discrete place near the base so that you can hang the animal flush with the wall

*I also showed the children examples of Abigail Brown’s paper mache animal heads

Easy Sculptures

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

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  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!)