I babysat for my nephews a couple of days ago. Since I was coming from another meeting, I didn’t have my usual bag ‘o stuff. I always try to bring craft projects, experiments, books, whatever. Hey, I have a rep to protect as the “fun aunt.”
But this time around…nothin’. Are we going to make slime? Asked eight year old Colby? Er….no corn starch. Cupcakes? Sorry. I don’t see any eggs…or flour. Paper mache? Remember what I said about the flour? Well, what are we going to do?
TV? Suggested three year old Carson. What? Not on my watch! (actually, I really don’t have a problem with TV, but I wasn’t up for a three hour cartoon network marathon).
I decided to read them a funny kid’s book I’ve been writing. After a productive critique session (add the word butt and change the main character’s name to Mr. Armadillo, Colby suggested. Butts are funny. Armadillo’s are funny. He is absolutely correct), we still had about two and a half hours to kill.
As they started inching closer to the remote control, I dug through my mental file folder of crafts and projects. After creating and presenting summer reading program workshops for five years, I have a pretty thick file in my head (did I just say I have a thick head?).
Anyhoo, I remembered a simple project we did with teens that involved aluminum foil and sea shells. Basically, you carefully mold the foil over the shell, gently rub it, then remove the shell, leaving a cool shell impression. Well, we didn’t have sea shells, but we did have coins.
We made some rubbings, then started looking for other things with texture around the house…artwork on the walls, the frame around a mirror, the screen door, the air conditioning vent. It was an hour of fun for both the eight year old and the three year old.
Then Colby suggested we try our heads. We spent another hour making foil sculptures of our faces, hands, fists, feet, elbows. When we were done, there was no paint to clean up and the projects we didn’t keep went right in the recycling bin.
As we continue working on our indiegogo campaign for our new transmedia STEAM program, this foil project (dare I even call it a project?) reminds me that encouraging innovative, out-of-the-box thinking in kids doesn’t necessarily require enormous preparation, tons of equipment, or even flour! All you need is a little time, a 99 cent roll of foil, and a bit of creativity.