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An Activity with Children While Isolated

Are you a grandparent and used to spending good time with grandchildren? Lock-in is very troubling. Here is something to share by mail.

I call this centerpiece an Easter tower.

I call this centerpiece an Easter tower.

What Can I Do?

Amazing how a little virus can change your life. If you are in your 60's or 70's, your children may not want you to babysit for fear you might contract COVID-19. Or, you may be simply trying to comply with the protocol and staying away. Either way, it's tough.

I always enjoyed activities with the kids, so I began thinking of how I might interact from a distance. My granddaughter sent me a letter, an assignment from her school teacher. "What a great idea," I thought. That letter cheered me up no end. That's when I thought of a way to engage the grandkids.

Pack up an Activity

I chose to do this because all the parts would fit flat in a mailer. It isn't too hard on the wallet, either.

Each little figurine is from 2 1/4" to 2 3/4" wide. I specifically made them this big so that they would span the tower structure and be easily glued.

These little iconic Easter figures were traced out in polymer clay using free clip art readily available on the Internet. While you can trace these objects out carefully with a knife going around the paper clip art, I find it easier to use a cookie cutter. And while you may not have cookie cutters, it is easy to make one out of polymer clay.

Once you have an initial specimen cut from the clay, pinch the sides up, kind of like pinching up pie dough for crust. The clay for this cookie cutter should be at least 1/4" thick. The figures you make with it can be as thick as you like. I press on the sides of the cutter gently to outline a new piece. If the cutter breaks, glue it together and try again adding pressure differently, or make a new one. Cut your new ones out along the impression you made with the cookie cutter.

Cookie cutters made from polymer clay. I use Polyform Sculpey clay.

Cookie cutters made from polymer clay. I use Polyform Sculpey clay.

The Recipe

Step 1. Knead the Sculpey clay.

Step 2. Use a rolling pin to flatten the clay.

Step 3. See photo instructions below for making the figures.

Step 4. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Step 5. Place the Sculpey figures on a cookie sheet.

Step 6. Cook for 30 minutes.

Step 7. Let the figures cool. They will cool to hard.

Good Stuff

You may find the Sculpey a little hard to knead after unwrapping its plastic packaging. That is normal. Just a bit of kneading and you will notice it getting softer to work. Continue until it is malleable for the rolling pin.

The Framework

The tower is made from shish kabob skewers. I already had a pack, but at Amazon they run $4.99. The tower takes 4 sticks, each one foot long.

Next, cut a square 8" on a side out of tempered hardboard 1/8" to make a base. Again, it was lying around, but you could use corrugated cardboard, plywood, Masonite, or pegboard -whatever. Part of the joy of making something is to see how ingenious you can be. These times call for ingenuity.

The topper is 2" by 2". See the photo below for the placement of holes to be drilled. The bit size is 5/32"

Twist the sticks in about 2/3 of the way. When the tops are even, apply a drop of glue to the bottom of the base and the top of the topper.

It's the Kids' Show

Of course, this whole procedure is for the grandkids and their parents. My grandchildren are now 4 and 6 years of age, and gluing figures to the stand is what they can do. If the grandkids can't place the sticks, that's what parents are for.

In the photo below you can see all the parts as they would be shipped. In this example it is a Fourth of July theme.

Everything that goes in the mailer.

Everything that goes in the mailer.

In Conclusion

What could be better than a project in anticipation of a holiday? The grandkids can work side by side with their parents, and you continue to be a part of their holiday. Along with cell phone conversations and videos, this is just another way to feel relevant. The grandkids will know you are thinking of them.

If we are lucky, we can all spend the 2020 4th of July with our families. If not, I am sure our creativeness will save the day as we find ways of joining with those we love.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 John R Wilsdon