This past weekend, our library participated in the Dowagiac Ice Festival with a sensory craft in the library. Downtown businesses invited the people of Dowagiac to make crafts, get food and drinks, and more. We invited families to make Snow Slime with us. I originally got this idea from Sarah at Frugal Fun for Boys.
The kids had fun with this projects because it was messy, but little did they know that they were engaging in a sensory activity! According to PBS, “Spending time stimulating their senses helps children develop cognitively, linguistically, socially and emotionally, physically and creatively.” There’s something about the mixture of glue and fake snow that just feels weird and a lot of kids had great reactions. Parents talked to their kids about how it felt and why. Some of the younger ones didn’t like getting messy, but participating in this projects encouraged them to reach outside of their comfort zone.
This is also a little bit like process-based art. There’s no exact science to this project. You just kind of have to figure out how much liquid starch to add, how long to mix, and how to adjust your method if your slime is too stringy or if it’s sticking to much with your hands. It takes a while to get it to form, and you have to try a lot of different things. So kids are learning how to sit at a project for a while and sustain focus, but they are also using problem solving skills.
To do this project all you need is 1 bottle of glue, a cup of fake snow (that you can get at a craft store or on Amazon), and 1/2 cup liquid starch. Mix the glue and snow, then slowly at little bits of liquid starch. You have to mix the glue, then shape it, knead it, and fold it until you get it to be the consistency you want.
I’ve never been a knitter. So it came as quite a surprise to me (as I’m sure it did to many) that knitting turned out to be an incredibly useful project for our makerspace. We tried knitting for the first time at our library this past summer by participating in World Wide Knit in Public Day. I had helped out with WWKIP Day at my previous library, so I knew a couple simple projects already. We used yarn to make pom-poms, and I fashioned looms out of toilet paper rolls and craft sticks.
According to this article by the New York Times, knitting is proven to reduce stress and has health benefits for people with depression, eating disorders, and chronic pain. It also helps with cognitive skills and memory. Aside from these benefits, knitting is a great way to connect STEM and the arts in the library, because knitting helps develop basic skills that can transfer to other (sometimes high tech) projects. It gives kids the opportunity to practice measurement, prediction, and sequencing–skills that are needed for both reading and coding.
We brought knitting back recently for a makerspace project. It was fun to see how different kids adapted to learning how to knit. There were some kids who needed to be guided for a while, and others who understood exactly what to do after the first knot. And while there were some kids who got frustrated and gave up too quickly, there were still others who became entranced in the knitting process and lost track of time.
Because knitting does take so much time, we have knit kits that can be check out. They come with a loom, some yarn, a picture book, a non-fiction book so that kids can learn more on their own, and a picture book. Click this link to see our tutorial video on how to knit with a circular loom!
Program: Messy Time
Library: Dowagiac District Library (MI)
With summer reading just kicking off, we’ve started a weekly messy-time program at my new library. For our first messy craft, we made papier mache balloons. This was a fairly straight forward craft, but quite a lot of work. It certainly made a mess!
This craft was very process-based, meaning that the fun comes more from the process of making than the end result. It’s ok if your balloon ends up a bit crinkled–in fact, it’s very likely that it will happen. This is also a great sensory craft for kids who need texture.
Here’s what you need:
- Papier mache mixture (2 part glue, 1 part water)
- Torn up newspaper (enough for 3 layers)
Here’s what you do:
- Blow up the balloon. Smaller balloons are easier to papier mache for young children.
- Dip the strips of newspaper in the paste mix.
- Put the soaked newspaper on the balloon.
- Repeat process until there are about three layers of newspaper on the balloon. It is easiest if you balance the balloon on a paper bowl.
- Let the papier mache dry.
- Come back next week to paint and make into hot air balloons.
Next week, we’ll paint the balloons with paper cups and string them together to make a hot air balloon. Come join us!