Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Playing with Packing Peanuts

A while back we worked on this foam project with hammers, wooden beads and tiny colored rods. The kids had such a great time constructing and deconstructing it that I wanted to revisit foam sculptures another day. After the kids explored the materials for a week or so, we hung up the foam with the pieces that remained stuck in its surface to serve as an abstract art piece in the building area. 

Then we did about a thousand other projects while we waited for inspiration to strike again.  

As luck would have it my neighbor Roselyn saved us a huge stash of packing peanuts, and delivered them right to our front porch just before spring break. After the kids came back we got a second great gift; a big bin of really cool scrapbook paper from my friend Colleen. Our storage space is limited so I wanted to come up with some way to use large quantities of both items fairly quickly. Meanwhile I kept moving this annoying little surplus supply of toothpicks around the room because I hadn’t quite found a home for it then I remembered how much the kids liked stabbing things in foam so we got to work seeing what the kiddies could come up with using all three things. Then I tossed in some bamboo skewers just because they were taking up space too.

The introduction for this project was pretty simple I demonstrated how we could use toothpicks to attach paper to our already existing foam sculpture, I was thinking they might want to continue building “a town” as an extension of something they were working on in the building area.  

I asked the kids what they knew about toothpicks and bamboo skewers.

Sam said “They are pokey and if you don’t be careful you will hurt yourself.”

Enough said. Without further instruction I turned them loose on the project. The kids were pretty careful with all the “pokey” stuff, they only needed a reminder or two not to get the sticks too close to their faces when they became so absorbed in their work that they weren’t paying attention to where their body was in relation to the skewers. 

Sam made a boat with pedals.

Addie and Logan made trees.

Carmen practiced poking a lot of toothpicks in foam and paper, she seemed fascinated by the process.

Will made a “forest” of bamboo skewer trees.

At some point in their work the kids discovered that packing peanuts are super fun to throw around the room. 

Ms. Geraldine did not agree with them but in the interest of avoiding the role of fun governor I simply reminded them that it would be their responsibility to pick it all up. Those magic words ended the building part of our foam exploration and started a rollicking game of EXCAVATOR....

Apparently the only rules to the game of excavator are:

  1. The participants must throw ALL of the packing peanuts as far and as high as they can go by making their arms in the shape of an excavator bucket. 

  1. Everyone must scream really loud and run really fast despite several warnings of impending death or maiming by the fun governor.

  1. Once you are finished playing “EXCAVATOR” you must wander off and pretend you weren’t playing that game so that you aren’t responsible for cleaning up any of the mess.

Needless to say I am not cool with cleaning up little people’s messes so we had to revise rule number three.

3.) Find a fun and interesting way to clean up the packing peanuts so Ms. Geraldine’s head doesn’t spin off of her shoulders. 

Turns out that was an awesome rule change because everyone enjoyed at least an extra half hour scooping packing peanuts up into dump trucks and using various items to create makeshift “garbage trucks”. Once most of foam was cleaned up I decided to reward their efforts by giving them the blow dryer to experiment with the last few peanuts.

It was a blast!

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