Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Chenille Stems and Styrofoam

Chenille Stems in Styrofoam

I am beginning to feel like the styrofoam crusader.  I love the stuff.  I don’t love what it does to our planet though, so when someone drops me a load of styrofoam and asks if I can do anything with it, I tell them yes.  Better to use it until it’s unusable then to throw it out, right?  You’ve seen us use our brute strength to hammer in golf tees.  Here’s an activity with a little more finesse.

This lovely square of styrofoam was decorated mainly by one child with a little help from a few others occasionally.  She spent a solid 20 minutes carefully inserting chenille stems (pipe cleaners to you old fogies) into the styrofoam.  That’s not an easy task since the stems bend if you hold them too far away from the tip.  So it’s an exercise in fine motor control as well as pressure sensitivity, both important things to develop for writing later in life.

The trick with styrofoam is to find the stuff that doesn’t shred into a million little balls as soon as you start poking it.  That stuff isn’t fit to be used by twos and threes.  You end up chunks of torn styrofoam all over the place and then the custodian comes to talk to you for damaging the vacuum cleaner (again).

After you’re done you can keep the piece in your room as sculpture or have everyone help you pull the stems out again so you can start fresh another time.  Just don’t put it in the landfill!

Before it Became Art

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