What could be more fun and heartfelt than crafting a Mother's Day keepsake for Grandma? "When children create a gift for a grandparent, they gain perspective on the meaning of generations and their own place in the family," says Sara Wilford, director of the Early Childhood Center at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, NY. "They also experience the feelings involved in giving a gift to a loved one." Our easy-to-make 3-D craft project cultivates a variety of skills too: Making the butterfly develops fine-motor ability, and measuring the different quantities of paint for the frame encourages skills such as estimation and prediction. "It also invites discovery," says Wilford, who notes that children are fascinated by the process of combining different shades to produce new colors.
To make the project:
1. Ask your child to draw butterfly wings on a sheet of colored paper. Cut out the shape, and press a fold between the wings. Let her dab a drop of glue or paste on the rhinestones and press them on the wings, then draw squiggles around the rhinestones with glitter pens and crayons.
2. Curl the end of a pipe cleaner into a spiral to form the head. Fold the pipe cleaner so it fits over the length of the center between the wings, then slip it behind them. Twist the uncurled end around the head and trim the excess.
3. Cut a 4-inch length of wire. Thread a bead onto one end, then twist the wire over the bead and around it to secure. Repeat at the other end. Thread the wire through the pipe cleaner head and twist at the center to create antennae.
4. Have your child use a pencil and ruler to measure a rectangle on the back of a piece of corrugated cardboard to make the frame. The opening should be an inch longer and wider than the butterfly; the border should be 2 inches wide. Cut out the opening and perimeter of the frame with a craft knife. Measure the plain cardboard so it's 1/2 inch larger than the corrugated frame all around.
5. Mix poster paint in a small container with a craft stick. For the lilac shown, mix 1 part blue, 1 part red, and 2 or 3 parts white, then add a few drops of water to thin it. Paint the corrugated side and let dry.
6. Mix white paint with a little water. Brush the white paint over the lilac to "frost" the corrugated peaks. Ask your child to paint the face of the plain cardboard backing white and let it dry, then glue or paste the frame over the backing.
7. Cut out paper to fit inside the frame, and have your child write a note to Grandma and sign her name. Apply glue or paste along the spine on the back of the butterfly's wings, then press it onto the inscribed paper and hold until dry. Glue the assembled piece into the frame. Decorate as desired.
* Because of the small materials involved, parents should always supervise their child's craft projects. This project is not recommended for children under 4.
Copyright © 2001. Reprinted with permission from the May 2001 issue of Child magazine.