I'm pretty sure I've mentioned (haven't I?) that I am doing some homeschool preschool with Aliza Joy this year. Last week, Kyle got a package in the mail that was full of packing peanuts, and I immediately thought of this fun idea that Laura from Chicken Counting shared with us last year:
The next time you get a package in the mail, you might be getting more than you bargained for. That is, if you were lucky enough to get cornstarch packing peanuts. You probably already knew that these things dissolve in water, can be composted, and are generally about a thousand times better for the planet than styrofoam. But did you know they were a free, versatile crafting material?
One day I was in our local craft store, and saw these special "crafting peanuts" in a small bag for $5. And I thought, hmm, those look just like packing peanuts. Turns out, they're exactly the same. Except the ones that come as packing material are, um, free. That's my kind of project!
The possibilities are myriad for these things, but one of my favorite things to do is to build structures. All you need is some kind of base to help your peanuts stand up during construction, and a damp sponge.
To build, you simply touch a peanut to a damp sponge, and stick it to another one. Repeat. I've had kids as young as three master this technique, and it is virtually mess-free.
For an igloo, turn a bowl upside down, and cut a short section of toilet-paper tube in half for the door. Build all around the bowl, and simply remove the bowl when you're done. Ta-da! A home for... a goat, apparently. Hey, we encourage imagination around here.
To make a more traditional house-shape, use a half-gallon milk carton as a base. Rummage through the recycling bin and see what you have. Can you imagine... a cereal box for a skyscraper? A folded piece of cardboard for a tent? A construction paper cone for a tipi?
When your structure is complete, there's no waiting for glue to dry or anything -- you can play with it right away. Or, you can paint it! Now remember, these little peanuts are water-soluble, so the paint you use should be chosen with care. Watercolors are a no-go. Acrylics work, but are tough to clean up. We found gel-based finger-paints gave the best balance of easy clean-up and not dissolving the house too much.
Linking up to Your Green Resource: Week Six!
Laura is the mother of three kids who range from toddler to teenager. She is passionate about healthful, sustainable food, and making things from scratch. In her fantasy life, she has a farm with chickens and goats, but for now raises her vegetables in the flower beds of her suburban garden. She chronicles her adventures at Chicken Counting.