If you’ve read our previous post about our visit to Wingham Wildlife Park, you’ll already know that we’ve got a bit of a flamingo thing going on here, as part of our ‘A to Z of animals’ study unit. After seeing those beautiful pink birds in real life at Wingham, I though it could be nice to do a little flamingo craft project together!
Before we start, I’d just like to summarise some of the benefits of doing crafts together:
- Working on fine motor skills, exercising bilateral coordination, hand strength, scissor skills, hand-eye coordination, pincer grasp etc. These kind of skills are of course useful in many ways, for example for handwriting or getting dressed (buttons, zips, shoe laces). But working on motor skills can also help with learning and cognitive development. I guess you could say that when you improve the ‘fitness’ of the brain (by giving it a workout through crafting, for example), that can make it more fit for learning, too. (Apologies to any brain scientists for my very simplified way of putting things.)
- Working together on a task means that we practise collaboration and joint attention. It also reduces the risk of task perfomance anxiety, as we’re doing the task together rather than me giving instructions and Penguin ’performing’. Worrying about getting the instructions wrong or not being able to perform a task well enough can take all the fun out of an activity. Working together helps to take the pressure off, thus decreasing anxiety, frustration, anger etc.
- Doing crafts is a multisensory activity. It provides tactile and visual stimulation, and often some auditory, olfactory (smell) and proprioceptive (input to joints and muscles) stimulation, too. It also offers anple opportunities to practice colours, shapes and other descriptive words (such as sticky, soft, fluffy, firm, bendy, wet, dry, hard, tough, long, short), as well as comparatives (smaller, bigger, larger, longer, shorter, lighter, darker etc.).
- To see how you can create something decorative and/or useful out of ’nothing’ is really rewarding, and hopefully builds creativity as well as confidence.
Now, let’s get on with making the flamingos!
To make the 2 flamingos, we used:
- 2 pink pipe cleaners/chenille stems
- some wadding/toy stuffing material (if you’ve got an unloved cuddly toy you can do a bit of recycling, which is what we did)
- 4 googly eyes
- a piece of thick paper or card
- colouring pens/pencils in pink and black
- red watercolour
For making the ’pond’ for the flamingos to stand in, we used:
- a thick piece of cardboard (ours was part of a removal box in its previous life)
- green felt
- blue tissue paper (we used an old christmas cracker crown)
- glitter pen/s in shades of blue
- blue cellophane (finally made good use of some old Quality Street wrappers!)
- blue and green pens
…plus scissors and glue again. We used both gluestick and PVA Glue, but you can make this just as well without a gluestick too.
To get us started, and to give a fairly clear idea of what we were about to make, I’d already shaped one of the pipe cleaners into a ’flamingo shape’ in advance. I showed it to Penguin and explained how we were going to use the fluffy wadding to be it’s feathery body, and add googly eyes and beaks, to make flamingos like the one we’d seen at Wingham.
We then dyed the ’feathers’ pink by dipping them into water and rubbing them on the watercolour block, then back in the water and so on a couple of times, until we thought they were looking suitably flamingo pink.
The ’feathers’ were left to dry while we got on with the next steps. I helped Penguin shape his pipe cleaner into a similar shape to mine. I let him try to do it himself, but it was a bit too fiddley. It’s not complicated though, as you can see in the pictures below. It’s all made in one piece, starting with the head, which is basically just two circular loops. Then the neck leads down to the main body, which is just one oval loop, leaving enough for one leg to stand on, in true flamingo style.
We cut beak shapes out of stiff paper and coloured them pink with black ends. The beak slots into place between the two loops that make up the flamingo’s head, and is further held in place when the googly eyes are glued onto it (as pictured above). After that, all that is left to do is to push the fluffy ’feathers’ into the body loop, and hey presto, the flamingo is done!
To make the pond, we took a piece of cardboard, on which I drew a quick outline of a pond with greenery around it, to visualise to Penguin what we were making. We then went on covering the blue area with tissue paper and layers of cellophane and glitter glue, creating shimmering ’water’ (Penguin did most of this bit himself).
I then cut a hole in the felt, and Penguin glued it on. I made a couple of holes to slot the flamingos into, and we placed them into their pond. Done!