Well, whaddaya know? I’m teaching again. Thought I’d never do it. Even vowed I’d never do it again. But over the summer, one of my oldest and dearest friends planted a seed in my mind. He insisted, “Susan, you might not think so, but you are a TEACHER.” It’s not what I wanted to hear. I argued that I’m excited about the more holistic direction I’m taking with clutter coaching, Reiki, feng shui, and mindfulness mentoring. I’m done with teaching. Then he suggested that I at least consider working with young children as a menu item. I listened to what he had to say. After we hung up, there was a funny feeling inside me that made me think he might be right, even though I convinced myself otherwise for quite some time.
A few weeks later, that seed was watered by an intriguing job post another friend sent along that made me light up when I read it. I went straight to the computer and composed a cover letter that essentially wrote itself, and sent it off the next day.
To make a long story short, I got the job and am running a preschool program at our local library! I’m glad my two friends acted on their intuition because it seems to be a perfect fit. It’s a part-time position that allows me to do what I loved most about teaching: Helping children to love learning and books and to feel good about themselves. Incorporating lots of literature-based art and nature projects that build kindergarten readiness skills across the curriculum.
The elements I disliked about public school education don’t apply to this job. I’m not the only adult in the room and have LOTS of assistance because the parents/grandparents/caregivers stay for the program! And there’s no formal assessment. As a kindergarten teacher, it broke my heart to see my students’ self-esteem suffer because they weren’t ready for the “new” kindergarten expectations. I jumped on the library position because it would allow me to: 1) prepare children for kindergarten in developmentally appropriate ways, and 2) model skills and activities to the adults in their lives, who can do so much at home to support their child’s learning.
I love that I can be a positive influence in the lives of young children and families again, in a much more supported way than when I was a public school kindergarten teacher. It’s wonderful to stick a toe back into the world of early childhood education, in a way that allows me to focus on my other interests, as well.
The moral? If your intuition nudges you to deliver a message to someone, DO IT! Don’t think it’s silly and shrug it off. The Universe might need you to help plant a seed that will make a positive difference in their life. It might be exactly what they need to hear to help a new path unfold.
In celebration of my return to working with “the littles” and my favorite season, here’s an activity inspired by the children’s picture book, LeafMan, in which all the illustrations are made from autumn leaves. It’s also inspired by my favorite early childhood educator/blogger, Sally Haughey of Fairy Dust Teaching. A picture on one of Sally’s blog posts caught my eye, and I developed it into a literature-based art and science activity I did with my preschoolers this week. It would work with older children, too. (I even had fun with it on my own, as you might be able to tell from these pictures!)
How to Make Leaf-Man Inspired Nature Portraits
A few wooden frames (without glass; I used 8×10, 11×14, and 5×7)
Pieces of cardboard, fabric, or paper in natural skin tones
Assortments of natural objects, such as:
A variety of autumn leaves
Pinecones of different shapes
Acorn tops and acorns (it’s nice to include some very tiny acorns still stuck inside their top, too)
Short pieces of sticks (only an inch or two long)
Pieces of hazelnut shells
Maple seed wings (“helicopters”)
Indian corn kernels
Naturally dyed wool
Arrange each category of natural objects into its own container, and place them so they are within reach of the children as they work.
Each child gets a frame with some kind of backing paper or fabric canvas underneath it. Simply allow them to create pictures of people, animals, trees, etc. using the natural materials in different arrangements.
This is an opportunity to use directional words (i.e. above, below, next to) and talk about body parts, colors, size, numbers of parts, etc. It’s also an invitation to observe and identify natural objects and to discuss the changes trees go through.
Allow them freedom of creativity!
They might even want to take a little break and observe how maple wings, feathers, and different kinds of leaves twirl, tumble, and otherwise make their way to the ground.
Here are some Nature Portraits my three- and four-year-old students made:
I’ve been busy planning and setting intentions for 2016 and am stoked to discover a wealth of resources for manifesting goals! I feel like I’ve tapped into a mother load of resources, which brings to mind the adage, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” Teachers and active support networks of women coming together virtually to inspire and encourage one another!
This workbook is so full of goodness that it would be impossible to describe it with only a few headlines or examples! It begins with wrapping up and reflecting on the previous year and includes a page to list everything you’re grateful for from 2015, which is a great exercise because gratitude is key for moving forward! The rest of the workbook focuses on creating a shining new year in all areas of life by setting inspired goals and listing resources you have to support you along the way. (My favorite page is the self-created list of “Things to Do When Everything Sucks!”) There are pages for affirmations, mottos, and plenty of space for creating a dream board. I’m having so much fun (with my colored Sharpies) brainstorming and imagining, setting intentions and goals, breaking goals into actionable steps, and writing the steps in my day planner. It’s something I can look back at throughout the year to help me stay on track. I’ve never done anything like this before and think it will be a catalyst for serious growth.
I anticipate that various pages in this workbook will inspire blog material throughout the year, but for now I want to start with something simple: choosing a “sacred word for the year”.
When I was teaching, I’d create an elaborate binder for each school year to keep me focused on what was most important and in alignment with my core values and aspirations. The cover of the binder featured a picture embellished with my word for the year. The word served as a compass to help me navigate the year. Since the binder also housed my weekly lesson plans for the whole year, I saw the cover every day and was reminded constantly of the intention I set for the year. It was a powerful tool!
So choosing a “sacred word for the year” was not something new. Before choosing my word for 2016, I made a list of words to consider. I kept the list in my phone and added to it whenever something new came to mind. I finally decided on abundance. Yes, I think it’s high time to expand my horizon and focus on that word!
Truth is, I never made money a priority in my life and was never intentional about it. Money was not something I considered when it came to choosing either a college major or a spouse. It simply didn’t show up on my radar. I lived simply and with some creativity learned how to live on very little. But since resigning from my teaching job, I’ve been doing some conscious work on my attitudes and beliefs about money because I think I’ve been selling myself short and cutting myself off from the flow. Lately, I’ve been stretching myself to use my brain in ways that are entirely new to me and realize that developing a healthy “money mindset” is critical. It seems clear that all my life, the attitudes I’ve held toward money have obstructed the flow of prosperity in my life. Now I am curious about this energy and feel inspired to experiment with it and see what I can do with a friendlier attitude toward it. So I’m working first and foremost on raising my “money vibration,” which goes hand in hand with pursuing professional opportunities.
But abundance isn’t only about money. It applies to all areas of life, and gratitude seems to be a fundamental part of it – which is why it felt so worthwhile to make a list of everything I was grateful for in 2015. This year, I intend to be conscious about how I am either allowing or cutting myself off from the flow of abundance in my life. To keep my sacred word front and center, I am printing the photograph below and mounting a small print on both the refrigerator and the inside cover of my daily planner and a larger, framed print on the wall of my work space.
To supercharge my word for the year, I identified what habits and actions will draw more of the quality of abundance into my life. I also created a unique lantern for my meditation space with my sacred word and several other words to (literally) illuminate my aspirations and intentions for the upcoming year. This includes qualities that I anticipate will be useful to have in my toolbox for the year, to support what I want to accomplish. Words to uplift and inspire me when things don’t go the way I want them to. Reminders to help me stay on track.
Here is another view of my multi-colored lantern:
And here is a Spirit Lantern I made several years ago that ended up being a powerful manifestation tool back when I was pursuing a teaching job in a competitive job market:
I’ve received numerous requests to share instructions for making Spirit Lanterns, so here goes!
smooth glass jar or straight vase (I like to repurpose 16-oz. salsa jars)
sheet of handmade/natural/mulberry paper from an art or paper store (either a large sheet or a few 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets)
Mod Podge (either matte or glossy)
paintbrush or foam brush
inkjet or laser printer
a few sheets of regular copy paper
tape or glue stick
silver and/or gold Sharpie pen (optional)
sparkly star stickers (optional)
hot glue gun and a few glue sticks
ribbon, raffia, or twine
Step One: Brainstorm, Layout, and Print Your Words
Brainstorm and select the words you want to include on your lantern. For best results, limit your list to no more than 12 words.
In a word processing program, type out your list of words, leaving space between each word. (Eventually, you will rip out each word by hand, so you’ll want to leave enough space to do so.) Use whatever font(s) please you. At times, I’ve used a variety of fonts for one lantern. Other times, I’ve only used one font (and think I like this effect best). I prefer to use a calligraphy or script font, such as Caflisch Script (a free download).
Test print your words on a sheet of regular copy paper to make sure the words are the right size.
Print your words on a sheet of mulberry or handmade paper. I recommend cutting this paper a little smaller than a regular sheet of 8 1/2″ x 11″ copy paper and then either taping or using a glue stick around the edges to adhere the mulberry paper to the regular copy paper so the delicate paper won’t get eaten by your printer. In the past, I’ve been able to print directly on the mulberry paper, but the printer I have now is too rough for such delicate paper. Use the “best” print quality setting.
After printing onto the mulberry paper, detach it from the copy paper.
Tear each word out by hand, leaving as little paper around the words as possible without tearing into the word. If there are difficult to tear fibers, use scissors to cut through them, and then continue tearing.
Step Two: Prepare and Cover Your Jar
Begin by cleaning your jar and removing any label residue if you’re repurposing it. (Goo Gone does the job well.) Make sure the jar is dry before proceeding.
Cut your decorative paper to a size that will cover your jar with some excess left over. You will want the paper to extend about 1/8″ above the rim, and a couple inches beyond the bottom (to cover the bottom surface).
Paint the entire outside of the jar with Mod Podge.
Cover the jar with the decorative paper. Smooth it out as completely as you can. Try to have as little overlap as possible where the two ends of the paper meet, but make sure there’s no gap. If there’s a gap or you don’t like the way the overlap looks, you could run a strip of matching washi tape vertically along the seam. Trim the paper so it’s flush with the top rim of the jar.
Cut slits in the paper that will allow it to cover the bottom of the jar, and carefully fold the slits over the bottom so it is covered completely. Smooth it out as much as possible. If you end up not having enough excess on the bottom to cover it completely, you can cut out a circle nearly the size of the diameter and adhere it.
Step Three: Embellish Your Lantern with Words, Charms, and Other Details
Apply Mod Podge to the places where you want your words. Smooth out the words.
When all your words are adhered to the lantern, paint over the entire lantern with a coat of Mod Podge. Let dry.
At this point, you can embellish the lantern with designs and/or stickers. I love to take out my metallic Sharpies for this and make spirals! You might want to decorate with a few shiny star stickers.
Cover with another coat of Mod Podge, and let dry. I like to sprinkle some fine glitter in the Mod Podge for the final coat!
If you are using charms, attach each one to a few inches of fine thread. Find places for them to hang so they are not covering any words. Put a dab of hot glue near the top of the rim, and attach a thread to the glue so the charm dangles in the space where you want it. Do the same for the remaining charms.
Use hot glue to secure ribbon, raffia, or twine around the top of the lantern, to cover any threads in the glass (that allow the lids to screw on).
Place a tea light or votive inside the lantern (inside a small votive holder if you wish), and enjoy and reflect on your illuminated words!
I recently listed Spirit Lanterns for sale in my Etsy shop, so if you’d like one but don’t feel like making one on your own, I’d love to create a customized lantern for you using your sacred words for the year and/or even an inspirational quote!
This is another teacherly post. I want to share a tutorial of my favorite art project of the year: Eric Carle-inspired seahorse collages. I got the idea from a lesson plan I purchased from Deep Space Sparkle a few years ago and have modified over the years for implementation with my kindergarten students.
We haven’t done much painting this year due to our switchover to the rigorous Common Core curriculum. The paint bottles have been sitting on the shelf above the cubbies calling to me. I have been waiting all year for this opportunity. Throughout the year, we have read a number of Eric Carle picture books, and one of the children’s favorite snack time videos is a collection of Eric Carle stories that includes The Very Hungry Caterpillar; Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me; and The Very Quiet Cricket. So they are quite familiar with his work. (And I love the calming nature of the video.) Toward the beginning of our ocean life unit, I read Mister Seahorse to the children. This book features aquatic fathers that take a primary role in carrying for or protecting the eggs and babies. Seahorse fathers, rather than mothers, are the ones who become pregnant and give birth. So this is also a Father’s Day tie-in, and we create the seahorse collages as Father’s Day gifts. (Father’s Day can be a tricky celebration to acknowledge in the classroom since some children do not have a father present in their lives. In such cases, I encourage children to give their collage to an important male figure in their life or whomever they choose.)
Click HERE for a video of the Mister Seahorse story being read aloud.
We also watch a fabulous video, Eric Carle: Picture Writer, in which Eric Carle talks about early influences (including his kindergarten teacher) that nurtured his interest in art. He also reads from some of his books and demonstrates his process of creating collages in his studio. Here is the complete list of supplies I have on hand for the project. You can definitely improvise; not everything is essential! Materials:
Two sheets of white 12″x18″ construction paper (per child)
Watercolor paint (blue, green, purple)
Smaller and larger paintbrushes
Several different colors of tempera paint
Scrapers (or a plastic fork)
Textured “stamps” (i.e. backings from carpet samples, bubble wrap, anything with a textured pattern)
An old toothbrush (for splatter painting)
Patterned sponge rollers and/or matchbox cars
Plastic trays (for applying paint to the sponge rollers; I use the large rectangular lids from store-bought salad mixes)
Newspapers or some kind of protective covering for tables
Glitter glue, or glitter and Elmer’s glue, or metallic paint pens
Black Sharpie marker
Hot glue gun or tacky glue
Poster board or cardstock (to make tracers)
Procedure: Each child needs two white sheets of 12″x18″ construction paper for the seahorse project. (I have considered using a paper size that is easier to frame but haven’t done it since all my tracers are sized for 12″x18″, and the size really seems to “work.”) The first paper will become the ocean background, and the second paper will become “pretty paper” for the seahorse. Note: If you are doing this at home with one or two children, you will want to make a few sheets of “pretty paper” for the project; one won’t be enough. 1. Create the Ocean Background
I start by having each child write his/her name in pencil on what will be the back side of one sheet of white paper. Then they turn it to the front and paint squiggly “waves” all the way across using the blue, green, and purple watercolors. After making the lines, they can splatter-paint or let their wet paintbrush drip color onto the paper to suggest “bubbles.”Set aside to dry.
This step goes quickly, and I did it with one child at a time. I was fortunate this year to have one student who volunteered (without being asked) to be the cleanup person. He was ready with a wet paper towel (see top photo) to clean up any paint that got on the table surface. (I didn’t put down newspaper.) Another student took it upon herself to be the teaching assistant. She explained directions to her classmates and showed them examples of the ocean backgrounds in the Mister Seahorse book. I had the next child write his/her name on the paper and sit at the table watching the child who was painting, to see how to do it. 2. Create the Pretty Collage Paper
This step takes at least two days to complete. On the first day, children paint their second sheet of white paper the color of their choosing (after writing their names on the back in pencil). For this, I like to mix tempera paint to make interesting colors, like tangerine, indigo, turquoise, chartreuse, fuchsia, dandelion, terracotta, etc. Then I dilute the paint with water so it covers the paper more easily and lasts longer.
One year, I asked children to choose a color ahead of time and grouped them together according to the colors they chose so they could all paint at the same time. That worked well (as long as you have enough paintbrushes and space). Other years, I’ve set up a table during play centers time and worked with two children at a time, allowing them to select from a variety of mixed colors. The children cover their entire paper with one color of paint. They use the thickest paintbrushes I have, to make it go faster. We let the papers dry overnight.
The next day is the messiest but also the most fun. Children need to wear smocks for this! I set aside one table as the painting table and put out numerous cups of mixed, diluted tempera paints, paintbrushes, plastic trays, textured stamps, kid-sized sponge rollers, sea sponges, etc.
Then I call one or two children at a time and guide them to:
Paint or roll lines or dots across their paper (straight, zigzag, or squiggly) using a contrasting color.
Use a patterned scraper, plastic fork, or the handle end of a paintbrush to scrape through the painted lines, to create texture and color variations.
Use a sea sponge and/or patterned stamp to add even more texture.
Finally, I take the children outdoors to finish their papers by splatter-painting a contrasting color on top. They can use either a paintbrush or a toothbrush for this. If using a paintbrush, they flick the paintbrush (held several inches above the paper) to propel the paint from the brush to the paper. If using a toothbrush, they hold the toothbrush above the paper with one hand and rub the opposite thumb along the bristles to propel the paint to the paper.
Let the “pretty papers” dry. 3. Trace and Cut the Seahorse I made tracers from poster board in the following shapes: seahorse, coral and/or seaweed, rock, starfish, and tiny fish. You can do a Google Images search for the shapes, print them out, and trace them on poster board or cardstock, etc. to make the tracers. I trace the shapes on the back of the “pretty papers” because children have a tendency to put the tracer smack dab in the middle of a paper. (They do this with cookie cutters and dough, as well.) I like to save the scraps for others to use in their collages, and there are more (and larger) scraps left over if I trace the shapes strategically close to the edge of the paper. I also write the child’s name in pencil in the middle of the seahorse shape. The pretty paper each child painted will be the paper used for his/her seahorse, which is the largest element of the collage. I give each child his/her paper with the seahorse shape traced on the back. The children cut out their seahorses, and I save each child’s seahorse in a separate ziplock bag that will be used to store the rest of his/her collage pieces. I have them put their scraps on a table. 4. Trace and Cut the Other Shapes I sort the paper scraps into piles according to whether they would make good coral, seaweed, rocks, starfish, or tiny fish. Then I trace the shapes on the back of the scrap papers. Hopefully I can trace a few of the same shape on the scrap paper. Then I cut around the traced shapes to make smaller pieces of pretty paper that the children can cut into the shapes. I put all of the paper with coral tracings on the back into one ziplock bag, all of the seaweed tracings in another, etc. Then I have the children select the papers they want to use for the rest of their collage pieces. I’ve found that this works best as a small group activity, and I definitely recommend having another adult in the room to help manage this step. I did this during our work stations time. Some children read independently to themselves and others used the computers, while a third group selected their collage papers. I set up piles of the different pretty papers (with a certain traced shape on the back) on a table, and an adult volunteer supervised the children as they selected a paper for each object in the collage. For instance, one pile contains paper scraps with a starfish traced on the back, another pile has paper scraps with rocks traced on the back, etc. The children put their collage papers into their plastic bag along with the seahorse they cut out previously. (Note: I let the children choose either a seaweed or a coral paper, but not both.) Then this group of children goes to a table, writes their name inside the traced shapes, and cuts out all the shapes, saving the scraps in a bin (that will be dumped into the “scrap paper” drawer of our art center paper organizer for future use) and putting their cut-out shapes into their plastic ziplock bag.
5. Assembling the Collage Meanwhile, I have been setting up a table for them to assemble their collages. I put each child’s ocean background paper on the table along with lots of glue sticks and some Sharpie markers. I talk the children through the process of assembling their collages in the following order:
First, they glue and place their coral or seaweed toward a bottom corner of the paper. (The paper should be oriented so that it is tall, rather than wide.)
Next, they glue and place their rock in front of (and slightly overlapping) the coral or seaweed.
Next, they glue and place their starfish in the opposite bottom corner (on the ocean floor).
Next, they glue and place their seahorse somewhere in the center of the page.
Finally, they glue and place their two small fish anywhere they want.
They finish by signing their name in black Sharpie. They also could draw tiny circles on the starfish and coral to create a more textured look.
6. Applying the Finishing Touches I use a hot glue gun to affix a wiggly eye to the children’s seahorses and a very small wiggly eye to their tiny fish. (You could instead use a hole punch, white paper, and a black marker to create eyes.)
An optional final step is to allow them to accent their collages with glitter glue, metallic (gold or silver) paint pens, or glitter and glue. The children LOVE this step, so I always try to make time to include it.
We’re putting up our tree a little late this year, and I’m in the mood for natural ornaments!
Last year, I came across the idea of apple and cinnamon stick ornaments via someone who discovered them in Europe. All you need is an apple, a cinnamon stick, and some raffia or string (such as hemp). Cut the apple into slices about 1/4″ thick, and let them dry flat on a wire rack, or hang to dry. Punch a hole at the top, tie a knot, put a cinnamon stick on top, and tie another knot to hold the cinnamon stick in place securely. If you want to get a little fancier, you can add a cranberry above and below the cinnamon stick. Eat the discarded parts of the apple, use them in an apple recipe, or dehydrate them for later use.
This year, I tried out the same idea with orange slices.
And then there’s cinnamon ornaments, which I have been making with the children in my life each year without fail. I still have the first batch I made with my own children more than a decade ago. They don’t go bad, although the spicy fragrance fades in time.
You can cover one side with glitter,
leave them plain,
or decorate them with glitter glue or dimensional fabric paint. White fabric paint makes them look like gingerbread cookies with white frosting.
Here is the recipe for cinnamon dough:
1 cup cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
1 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
1 1/4 cup applesauce (measure then drain in a strainer for several hours, or if straining isn’t possible, use 1 cup)
2 tablespoons white glue (i.e. Elmers)
1 tsp. glitter (optional; fine glitter is especially nice)
In a bowl, mix together the spices and glitter. Then mix in the applesauce and glue.Work the mixture with your hands for a few minutes until it’s smooth, well mixed, and can be formed into a ball. If the dough seems too dry at this point, you can add just a little more applesauce. Or if it’s too wet, add more cinnamon.
Knead the ball on a surface dusted with cinnamon until it holds together well. Then roll out the dough to 1/4″ thickness, and use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Use a strawortoothpick to make a hole for hanging.
Put shapes on a wire rack or cookie sheet, and allow to dry at room temperature for about two days, turning several times. (The room will smell wonderful!) Once they are dry, rough edges can be smoothed with sandpaper if need be. String with raffia, thread, or whatever you have on hand.
* * * *
While walking in the woods to take some of the above photos, I came across a patch of nature’s own ornaments that caught my eye. I’m not sure exactly what they are (perhaps the inside of some kind of nut) but found them fascinating.
From certain angles, they remind me of the string ornaments that are made from string dipped in glue and then wrapped around a small balloon (which gets popped and removed after the string has dried in place).
I think we will finish our tree with a string of popcorn and cranberries, unless we decide to put the string outside as a gift for the birds!
“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
The days are noticeably shorter and colder all of a sudden! The sun sets earlier now, and by the time I get home from work, it’s already getting dark. I have a wonderful commute home through lots of cornfields and down a hill with a great view of the setting sun. The colors of the sunset are so soothing, featuring orange-rose toward the ground gradating into a soft blue higher up. There’s also purple in the mix. I love seeing the bare trees silhouetted in front of the rich, gradated colors.
At this time of year, I am in search of light – savoring the sunrise and appreciating the way the rising sun interplays with water in its various states.
Sunrise coming through the window
Frost crystals coating leaves and plants become prisms reflecting the sunlight in a variety of colors, glowing like lights on a Christmas tree.
It thrills me to see the world fill with light each morning and to see the light shine through leaves and other natural objects, making them come alive with vibrance.
Drawn intensely to light as the sun travels a path lower in the sky, this is also the time of year when I become motivated to make lanterns to illuminate the darkness. This week, I made two different kinds of leaf lanterns. The first is a transparent, wax paper lantern that I have adapted over the years from a wonderful, Waldorf-inspired book called Earthways: Simple Environmental Activities for Young Children by Carol Petrash.
Some pressed autumn leaves (gather some fallen leaves from the ground, and press them inside a thick book for about a week)
Cylindrical oatmeal or ice cream container (such as Edy’s)
Iron and ironing surface
A piece of orange or red cardstock or construction paper (I used painted watercolor paper for the pictured lantern)
Glue (either hot glue gun or white tacky glue)
Handle from a paper shopping bag or brown- or green- wrapped florist’s wire from a craft store (or you could use a pipe cleaner)
Tea light (LED or real flame)
Glass votive holder or jar (if using a real tea light)
Thick, cushioned double-sided tape (if using a real tea light)
Step 1: The Base
Cut off the bottom 3/4” of the cylindrical container, and recycle the rest. This will be the base of the lantern.
Step 2: The Body
Cut out two 18.5″ wide by 9″ tall pieces of wax paper. Place one piece on top of an ironing board (or a pillowcase-covered table surface). Turn iron to lowest setting. Arrange pressed leaves on the wax paper, with their most colorful side facing you.
When the leaves are arranged as you want them, carefully place the second piece of wax paper on top of the leaves. Carefully iron over the wax paper, to fuse the two pieces together. At this point, you may want to trim the edges so they’re even and straight. (A paper cutter is handy!)
Step 3: Putting It Together
Cut a few 3/4”-wide strips from the cardstock. (I had on hand some pretty paper painted with acrylic inks that I used instead of cardstock.) Glue a strip along the entire bottom and top edges of the wax paper, making sure the strip is glued to the side that shows the leaves’ brightest colors. Although you can’t tell from the photo, my strips weren’t quite long enough, so I used pieces of another strip to extend them to the edge.
Next, attach the wax paper to the base by lining up the bottom of the wax paper flush with the bottom of the base. (Make sure the side with the cardstock strips faces outward.) Carefully glue around the edges of the base, and roll the wax paper around it. (A hot glue gun makes this step easier, but you’ll have to work quickly.) You’ll end up with some overlap between the two wax paper edges, so run a thin line of glue from bottom to top at the overlap, to close the lantern into a cylindrical shape.
Step 4: Attaching a Handle
Next, make two holes with a hole punch or a pencil point close to the top of the lantern. The holes should be opposite each other. Attach whatever type of handle you’re using through the two holes. If you’re using a paper shopping bag handle or wrapped wire, either twist or glue each end together to fasten securely.
If you intend to light the lantern with a real flame, attach a votive candle holder or jar to the lantern base by using a small piece of double-sided tape, and put a tea light inside.
Here’s what this kind of lantern looks like when it’s lit:
And now for the second kind of leaf lantern, which I made this week with my kindergartners.
Earlier in the fall, I had my students do watercolor crayon-resist leaf rubbings. First, they rubbed the watercolor paper with crayons to reveal the texture of the leaves underneath the 9″x12″ paper. Then they covered the entire paper with fall-toned watercolors. The crayon markings resisted the watercolor and stood out. These masterpieces were displayed in the hallway for a while until we converted them into leaf lanterns. In other words, we repurposed their art work!
Painted watercolor paper, at least 9″x12″
Pressed leaf (smaller is best)
Iron and ironing surface
Razor-type paper trimmer (or scissors)
Hot glue gun
Handle from a paper shopping bag or brown- or green-wrapped florist’s wire from a craft store (or you could use a pipe cleaner)
Tea light (LED or real flame)
Glass votive holder or jar (if using a real tea light)
Thick, cushioned double-sided tape (if using a real tea light)
On the back side of the painted watercolor paper, use a ruler and pencil to draw a line going all the way across the long way about an inch from the edge. Cut 1″ wide fringes up to the line, all the way across the paper. (The fringes will be about as tall as they are wide; see second picture below.)
Iron a pressed leaf between two pieces of wax paper on the lowest heat setting. Then trim the fused-together wax paper so there is some space around the leaf.
In the center of the painted paper on the back side, trace around the wax paper piece. Using a razor paper trimmer, make a cutout inside of the traced shape, leaving at least 1/4″ all the way around. (In other words, the opening in the lantern needs to be somewhat smaller than the wax paper shape. Save the painted paper cutout; it will be the bottom of the lantern.
Put a line of glue around the edges of the cutout (still on the back side), and adhere the wax paper leaf so the duller side of the leaf is facing you. Since hot glue dries very quickly, you’ll need to do the gluing in quick, small segments.
Roll the paper into a cylinder with the fringes at the bottom. Glue the overlapping edges by running a thin line of glue from bottom to top to hold the cylinder together. (Again, work quickly, gluing a small segment at a time.)
Fold the fringes inward toward the center so they almost form a base (with some space at the center). Then cover them quickly with hot glue, and press the painted paper cutout on top (with the painted side facing you). Quickly turn it so the base is resting on your tabletop surface, and press down with your fingers to adhere the base to the fringes. Trim the base for a neat, finished look.
Next, make two holes with a hole punch or a pencil point close to the top of the lantern. The holes should be opposite each other. Attach whatever type of handle you’re using through the two holes. If you’re using a paper shopping bag handle or wrapped wire, either twist or glue each end together, to fasten securely.
If you intend to light the lantern with a real flame, attach a votive candle holder or glass jar to the lantern base by using a small piece of double-sided tape, and fit a tea light inside.
Be careful not to leave your lit lantern unattended, or use an LED tea light for no worries! The lanterns bring such beautiful light and ambiance to a room! Enjoy!