As those long, hot days of summer approach, lots of families start thinking about trips to the beach. Even if you're staying home though, you can bring some of the surf to your kindergartener's life with this artistic craft project. The results are colorful and the process is fun, but this activity is also educationally beneficial. The next time you find yourself with a few hours to fill, try making these “Paper Plate Jellyfish.” Your child will get to use her creativity, as well as practice her fine motor skills by painting, taping, and stapling. On top of all that, she'll learn about the creatures of the sea. This is a great way to spend an afternoon, and makes for some great decorations, too!
Plain white paper dinner plates—look for the lightweight ones with scalloped edges
Tempera glitter paint (available at art and craft stores) and brushes
Streamers in 3-4 bright colors, 1-1/2 to 2” wide
Stapler and tape
Newsprint or a plastic cover for your work surface
Plain string, for hanging the completed project
What You Do:
Start by talking about jellyfish. Find pictures in a book or online. Inform your child that these sea creatures come in a multitude of colors and sizes, and that they live all over the world in the ocean. Find information on what they eat, where they live, etc. You can talk about their connection to our marine ecosystems; you might also want to point out that in many cultures around the world, the rhythmic motions of the jellyfish are also inspiration for dance and art.
Then, lay out a protected work surface, such as a table covered with newspaper, and set up a couple of coordinating colors of glitter paint, each with a brush. Then lay down two plain paper plates, upside down.
Let your child paint the bottom of each plate, covering the surface completely.
While the plates are drying, have your child cut at least eight streamers approximately 20” long.
Once the plates are dry (with tempera paint this happens fast), poke a hole in the center of one of the plates. Help your child tie a knot in the end of the string, and poke the string through the hole. Encourage them to do the bulk of the project to increase their small motor skills, but offer help when they need it.
To assemble the jellyfish, take the plate with no string tied on and lay it flat on the table, painted side down. Then help your child place one end of each streamer around the edge of the paper plate. Arrange the streamers so that the colors alternate around the perimeter of the plate (you can even do a rainbow pattern if you like). Tack them down with a piece of scotch tape. Then lay the plate with the string through it on top of the other plate with the painted side up. The two plates will make a sandwich, with streamers anchored in between and dangling off the sides.
Finally, have your child staple the jellyfish perimeter together, taking special care to secure the streamers. When you're done, hang your jellyfish from the ceiling and watch the streamers sway in the breeze. Ideally, you and your child can do this with a friend or sibling or two—these painted jellyfish look particularly great in a group. You could even hang them up together over the table for a celebratory seafood dinner!