Dyeing Eggs with Plants


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Coloring eggs with plants is a good experiment, but usually this type of egg dying takes some time. One option is dyeing some of the eggs the day before. Different plants dye egg shell at varying speeds. Onion skin dye effects the shell immediately, but eggs placed in red cabbage dye need to sit in the fridge over night. If I was going to do this activity again, I might just use the onion dye. It makes a variety of pleasant shades from light yellowish pink to rosy ocher, and you don’t have to wait. We ended up dyeing most of the eggs before the activity and showing the teens the different types of dyes. They were able to decorate on top of the plant dye with acrylic paint. It would be good to open a window to deal with the egg smell. Here is a link with directions and some lovely pictures:

Dying with eggs with plants (flowers and nylons): http://bigsislilsis.com/2010/04/02/natural-dye-colored-easter-eggs/

Newsprint Nails


Newsprint nails are super fun. We did have some trouble transferring the print onto the nails, but it might have been related to people not letting their nails dry all the way between steps. I have also heard that you can use water instead of rubbing alcohol, which might help with this issue. We also had other nail polish options and a movie for them to watch while their nails were drying. It is a very good idea to open all of the windows and close the interior doors of the room you are using.

Materials: white or grey nail polish, clear nail polish, rubbing alcohol, q-tips, cotton balls, nail polish remover, baby food jars or small cups, and a tarp for the table.

Directions: 1. Paint nails with white polish and let dry. 2. Dip nails in rubbing alcohol and apply a piece of newsprint (font side down). Gently push newsprint on to nail and then remove newsprint. Let dry and coat with clear nail polish. 3. Clean up with q-tip dipped in nail polish remover.

Here are some helpful tutorials:

Newsprint nails: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kcdt4_5Ncc

Map nails: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OErnbohG5LM

Galaxy Nails: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EMgt4_jW5U



This was a fun experimental sort of activity. Everyone had their own ideas about what would fly the best. There was even an offshoot into making God’s eyes, which did not fly at all. Paper propellers are the easiest and fastest to make (see link below). Wooden propellers can get very complex, and you may have trouble constructing one that flies successfully. I suggest that you just provide the teens with the materials and see what they come up with. Our teens made some propellers that flew better than the ones we made. Here are the materials and directions for a simple wooden propeller:

Materials: tongue depressors, small dowel rods, hot glue, and metals nuts (for weight).

Directions: 1. Cut dowel to a length of about five inches. 2. Use hot glue to attach two metal nuts to the end of the the dowel rod. 3. Attach the end with the nuts to the middle of the tongue depressor. 4. Let dry. 5. Position the propeller between your hands and rub them together to make it fly.

Note: To inspire a more focused activity, you could offer prizes for the most beautiful or farthest flying propellers.

Here are some helpful links and videos of our teens:

Paper Propellers: http://1bluelearningsite.weebly.com/holiday-fun.html

Tongue Depressor Propellers: http://www.instructables.com/id/Hand-powered-vintage-propeller-toy/

Upcycled Mouse Traps

POUR POTS 005These upcycled mousetraps are converted into magnets. The portion of the mousetrap that is usually used for clamping a mouse’s head down is converted into a clip for notes or other items you wish to display.

Materials: new mouse traps, pliers, paint, magnets with sticky stuff on the back (note: You may want to hot glue your magnets to the back of the mouse trap if the sticky stuff is not working.)

Directions: 1) Use pliers to take off the part of the mousetrap that works as a trigger. 2) Paint the mouse trap. Add the magnets to the back. 3) Let dry and put on your fridge. Note: Use caution when lifting clamp.

Pour Painted Pots and Box Marbling

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Pour painting is a fun and fast way to make a flashy looking pot. The teens had a great time doing this activity.

Materials: small clay pots, latex house paint (four colors), small cups (or baby food jars), paint brushes (to mix your paint), small cardboard boxes, wax paper, twist ties, and toothpicks. Note: Cover the tables with a large plastic drop cloth. I use the same one every time and set the tables up in one big clump, which I call the Big Family Setup. Also, provide t-shirts or smocks. Tell them latex will not come off of their clothes if it dries.

Directions: 1. To prepare for this activity, you need to make a handle for each pot with the toothpicks and twist ties. You could have the teens make their own handles, but that might be risky. This is the handle idea I came up with: Break the toothpick in half. Twist one end of the twist tie around the middle of one of your toothpick halves. Poke the other end of the twist tie through the hole in the bottom of the pot, and twist that end of the twist tie around the other toothpick half. 2. Make sure the bottoms of your boxes are securely taped, so that paint won’t leak out. Place the pot upside-down in the cardboard box. 3. Prepare the paint by mixing it with a little water in a cup. I made three cups of each color. 4. Instruct the teens to pour slowly. They don’t have to pick up the pot when they are pouring paint, but if they do, that is fine. 5. When they are done with their pot, they can lift it out of the box (using the handle) and place it on a piece of wax paper. 6. Another project that seemed to grow out of this one could be called Box Marbling. Using the paint that collect in the box, tilt the box to create awesome designs. 7. Put the boxes and pots in a place where they can dry overnight.

General Suggestion: If you have a teen friend who wants to photograph the activity, you may find that you have a great record of what went on, as well as more time to focus on the task at hand.

Sewing Machine


When considering purchasing a sewing machine for the department, all sorts of fears raised their heads. What if someone sews their fingers? What if no one likes to use it? What if they break it?  I never really considered the possibility that it would be a raging success. During the recent T-shirt Bag activity, one person was sewing, two people assisting, and three people watching the action. When I asked if we should get another machine, everyone shouted “Yes!” Now, there is one major issue that has arisen: the machine needs a staff person near it at all times. Safety is one reason to have supervision, but the machine also gets clogged up pretty often when people are just learning to sew. I am hoping now that a few folks have the basics, they can help their friends. My initial concerns about safety are still relevant, but I am continually amazed at the maturity that arises in even the most active persons. They understand that they have to focus and be careful, it is a sewing machine after all. I think that sewing is an important skill, but the machine also has helped people develop new and intricate designs. In addition, people learn to be more patient, use fine motor skills, and problem-solve.

T-shirt Bags


T-shirt bags come in all shapes and sizes. There are no-sew designs and ones that require a sewing machine. This activity was very popular, we even had two older teen guys participate, which is very rare for Make n’ Take Thursdays. Part of the popularity might be due to the new sewing machine, which is very interesting to everyone. However, I think that it would be popular even without the sewing machine. The no-sew fringe design was chosen the most and was easy even for those people who are not super crafty. Any design can be embellished with beads, buttons, felt flowers, or cloth bows. Have fun!!