Get your child involved in the 4th of July festivities this year by helping her create a decorative garland to display in your home this holiday! Your child will practice important measuring and geometry skills that are an important part of her mathematical foundation, and will prove beneficial in years to come. She'll also flex her artistic muscles while she's at it, making this project a fun and worthwhile way to spend a summer afternoon.
What You Do:
- Start with a blank sheet of paper that measures 8-1/2”x11. Help your child trim it to measure 6”x11”.
- Fold the paper in half, so that you end up with a folded piece, 6”x5-1/2”. Then fold it again so that you have a piece that measures 6"x2-3/4." Then unfold the paper so that you have a piece with three fold marks, like this:
- Now, using these fold marks to guide you, help your child fold the paper with evenly spaced folds like an accordion, like this:
- With the paper completely folded up accordion-style, you’ll have one long strip. Find the center point, and have your child mark it with a light pencil mark. Staple all the layers together at this center point, using a regular desk stapler.
- Lay the strip on a table, and take out your ruler. Have your child measure one inch from each edge along the folded side of the fan, and mark that point lightly with your pencil. Then make an angled line from that point to the nearest opposite corner, and cut along that line, like this: (Note: do this for each end of the accordion strip)
- Spread out each end of the fold to make a round, star-shaped fan. Where the two edges come together, fasten them with a small piece of tape.
- Repeat these steps as many times as you like to make a bunch garland stars.
- You can hang the stars individually (they look marvelous suspended from a trellis over a Fourth of July tabletop) or you can create a garland with the stars by punching two holes into the edge, one on each side of a crease at the end of a point. Then tie loops through each set of holes to attach the stars together, like this:
When you're done, you and your child will have made some stunning Fourth of July decorations, while practicing important math skills along the way! This activity can be adapted for any occasion simply by changing the color of the paper; you can use red and green paper for a Christmas garland or pink and red for Valentine's Day. You can even use your child's favorite colors to make special decorations for her next birthday party!
Julie Williams, M.A. Education, taught middle and high school history and English for seventeen years. Since then, she has volunteered in elementary classrooms while raising her two sons and earning a master's in school administration. She has also been a leader in her local PTA.