Back when I was teaching elementary science and art, I was constantly trying to find ways to integrate my curriculums. When I studied habitats with the K’s and 1st graders, the jellyfish quickly became a favorite project among the students. Additionally, I got requests for this project from the development department (it was a private school where all the kids were on scholarship) because walking through a sea of jellyfish in the entrance hallway was a great selling point! Anyway, with summer in full swing here, we have been reading a bit more about the ocean, the beach, tide pools, and the creatures that inhabit those places. I have been eager to try out these jellyfish with the boys (even though I think they are still a bit young for the project). I grabbed a few extra children’s books about jellyfish at the library to be able to read and explore this topic with the boys. We also are lucky to have the The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk close by which has allowed us the opportunity to check out and examine these beautiful creatures! Anyway, we read about the kinds of jellyfish, sizes, body parts, what they eat, and how they move. George mostly liked the pictures while Arthur actually was curious, had questions, and was genuinely interested. This lead the way into our project. Now, this definitely is a multi day project, so if you are thinking of tackling it, it would be good to plan for this.
Part 1: paper mache
For this part you will need:
- paper mache (I made ours)
- balloons (thanks Debbie!)
- old newspaper
- some sort of bowl as a stand
First get your balloons ready. I blew up our balloons and then attached them to the bowl to help secure them as they were being paper mached. Then tear up or cut up a whole bunch of old newspaper or magazines.
To make the paper mache, I used about a 1:1 ratio of water and flour (now I only had whole wheat flour on hand since I didn’t want to use all my gluten-free flours…therefore, our flour was a little bit rough). I also added a couple of tablespoons of salt to help prevent any mold from growing. The consistency of the paper mache should be kinda like slightly watery glue. When ready, dip pieces of the torn paper into the paper mache, take off some of the excess and place on your balloon.
I find it is good to put on a couple of layers and try to have the direction of the paper strips going in various directions. I had the boys paper mache the balloons about 2/3 of the way down.
Don’t worry about a clean border on the bottom, you will cut it after it dries. On that note, when they are done (I had to finish George’s and kind of patch up Arthur’s) let them dry. It will take a good full day to let them harden.
Part 2: paint
If your balloons have not popped on their own, pop them and get out your paints and have fun! Dare I say you could also add glitter on top off the wet paint?! Could be a fun option!
Let the jellyfish dry and then trim the bottoms.
Part 3: Add tentacles and hang
For this, you can use a variety of things you may have on hand such as:
- pipe cleaners
- aluminum foil
You will also need a stapler, some sort of string or twine, and strong tape.
We used some pipe cleaners and aluminum foil. You can bend the pipe cleaners or have them wrap them around a pencil or chopstick to work on eye hand coordination and the such. You also can have them twist them together or around the foil. Lots of possibilities here!
Now, have them roll the foil and bend and twist the pipe cleaners. Ask them where they want them attached. If your kids are older, I am sure they can handle the stapler on their own. However, I used the stapler here and the boys ‘helped’ me staple. A note: I find it works best if the long part of the staple (the top?) is on the inside/ underside of the jellyfish where you attach the tentacle. Does that make sense? It holds more of the dangling object.
Now, it is time to hang them. You will want to poke a small hole in the top of the jellyfish. Then take your hanging string of choice and make a good sized knot on the one end.
Thread through the hole and place some strong tape over the knot to give it a little extra hold.
Hang them up and enjoy!!!!
If you try them out, let me know how they work out!