When the Wind Blows
When April winds blow, enjoy some outdoor play with these educational and fun projects especially designed for blustery spring days.
Stained-Glass Kite Decoration
If your family is looking for springtime activities, enjoy the season’s gusty days to have some outdoor fun with your children while teaching them about wind through projects and learning exercises. Hold up your hands together and ask your children: Can you feel the wind? Yes, you can feel the moving air molecules. Can you see the wind? No, the moving air is invisible. Can you hear the wind? What sound does it make? Ask your child what happens when he or she holds up a pinwheel, flag, or wind chime?
Wind is moving air. And there are ways that you can create wind without the help of Mother Nature: blow with your mouth, inflate a balloon and allow the air to escape through the opening, use a fan at varying speeds, or use an air pump. While making the crafts below, discuss how wind affects the project, or talk about how the project reminds you of a windy day.
Making art with your child is always a wonderful way to bond, and this project is no exception. After you’ve completed your kite, hang it in a sunny window and watch the colors light up your room.
To make your kite, first cut a large piece of waxed paper in the shape of a diamond. Affix masking tape in the shape of a cross or “T” shape (down the kite’s centerlines both length-wise, and width-wise) on both the kite’s front and back for bracing (the masking tape helps prevent the waxed paper from curling). Invite your child to cut out different shapes from a variety of colorful tissue paper. Assist him in painting the front side of this kite with liquid laundry starch (if starch is not available, mixing white school glue and water will work). Together, arrange the tissue-paper pieces—mosaic style—on the diamond-shaped wax paper. Cover the entire surface with the laundry starch or glue and water.
After the kite has dried, attach a length of ribbon (you can use tape or thread) down the bottom front for a tail. Cut out strips of fabric and tie them to the ribbon.
This is mainly a spring decoration, but your kite can also fly if you simply punch two holes, one at the top and one at the bottom of your kite (or one on either side); then thread a length of string through the holes as an anchor and tie a long length of string to the center-point of your anchor as a “pull.”
3-D Kite Picture
Here’s a new twist on the old-fashioned kite—a kite-flying picture with 3-D shapes. Add small kite-shapes cut from colorful construction paper to a ready-cut and assembled kite (like the one above). Then glue Styrofoam packing peanuts to the back of each kite shape before adhering it to your kite. Add yarn for tails and draw in a pretty sky with crayons and markers.
Recycle Plastic Grocery Bags
Throw your grocery bags to the wind as you and your child enjoy this fun kite-flying activity. First, let your child decorate a plastic grocery bag with all kinds of adhesive stickers—a nice way to make your child’s kite unique and special. Tie the handles of the bag together with a long length of string. For further decoration, you can even staple some ribbons or crepe-paper streamers to the bottom of the bag for kite tails. Find a windy spot outdoors and encourage your child to start running as he holds the kite string. When the bag fills with air, this kite will begin to soar and dance.
Create Your Own Wind Sock
Wind socks, also know as wind sleeves or wind cones, help us see in what direction the wind is blowing. Real wind socks are often used by meteorologists to help predict weather. Wind socks are also used by air traffic controllers to help determine wind direction.
Invite your child to draw weather-related pictures on a large sheet of construction paper. Roll the sheet of paper into a tube and fasten the rolled-edges together with tape or staples. Ask your child to then choose a top and bottom of her wind sock. Punch two holes, each one a couple of inches from the top on opposite sides of the wind sock. Thread yarn through the holes and tie the ends together to make a hanger. On the bottom, punch holes at one- or two-inch intervals around the circumference of the wind sock (about one inch from the edge). Thread lengths of yarn into each hole and tie off the ends—these will be the streamers. Find the perfect place to hang your wind sock and be sure to watch its movements in the wind.
Nowadays, we enjoy the convenience of email correspondence, but those electronic messages lack the warmth and personality of an old-fashioned letter. To encourage your kids to keep writing, help your child make special paper on which to write notes for grandparents and special friends.
Here’s a project where “your wind” (breath) makes a bubbly solution to print designs on paper. Help your child mix water and liquid dish detergent in several bowls and then add different food coloring to each bowl. Now come the fun part: Use straws to blow into the bowls, creating bubbles along the surface. (Be sure to teach your younger children how to blow out—and not suck the soapy water in.) Carefully lay a sheet of white paper over the bubbles to see the delicate bubble print. Overlap the bubble prints and patterns by laying the sheets over several bowls of different-colored bubbles. Let your paper dry thoroughly. Then have fun writing your letters—just think: creativity with both words and art!
Blow a Picture
As a variation to the bubble print project, you and your child can have fun blowing a puddle of paint onto a piece of paper to create special designs. First take poster paint and thin it down with water. Place several drops of the paint onto a sheet of paper and blow wind through the straw at the paint puddle. Watch the wispy designs appear. Blow from the top as well as from the sides to see how different angles have a dramatic effect on the paint.
Listen to the Wind Chime
Gather those old keys collecting dust on bookshelves and in dresser drawers and help your child create his very own wind chime. Take a small aluminum pie pan and punch a few holes around the rim. Then thread yarn or heavy string into three of the holes to make a tripod hanger. In the remaining holes, thread lengths of yarn in varying sizes; then tie a key at the bottom of each string. Hang this wind chime in a breezy spot and wait for the tinkling sounds. A child will receive satisfaction by making this craft, but don’t forget that the visual and auditory effects will stimulate babies too. Place a wind chime close to (but well out of reach from) the baby’s crib or playpen for even your youngest to enjoy.
Kazoos are often a child’s earliest wind instrument. These fun music-makers hum when wind—our breath—vibrates across the cellophane, creating a sound. You can make your own kazoo with a toilet paper cardboard tube. Help your child decorate the cardboard tube with musical notes and symbols. Attach a four-inch-by-four-inch square of cellophane or waxed paper over the one end with a rubber band. Now, hum your favorite tunes into the open end of the musical kazoo—hummmmmm!
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