Long time, no blog! Ok, let's just dive in, shall we?

I've been teaching an after school craft club this year and we've done some really fun things that I want to share with you. Whether you're planning end of the year parties, indoor recess, fun rewards for reaching behavior goals or testing relief, these crafts might be just what you're looking for.

Today I'll start with DIY Bouncy Balls. These were a hit with the craft club kids and a much better experience for me than slime or floam (HUGE messes and high on the craft fail spectrum) My students saw the ingredients in our classroom and they begged to make them too. They were relatively easy to make and the ingredients go a long way, so I promised them we'd make them on Friday if I got a great report from a sub that would be covering my class the next day. Well, lo and behold, I came back to work and saw this. It was a go for bouncy balls!

My craft club consists of 20 kids from grades K-3. My own class is 18 second graders. In craft club I have another teacher to assist me, but I was able to handle it on my own with my class. If you teach real little littles, I'd suggest enlisting some volunteers to help or just doing it with one small group at a time. I highly recommend doing at least one on your own before jumping in with your kids.

You'll need Borax, corn starch, white glue, food coloring, and warm water. To warm the water in my classroom, I use an electric kettle. You could also bring some hot water from home in a thermos. It doesn't need to be hot, just warm enough to help the Borax dissolve. You'll also need some Dixie cups, popsicle sticks or spoons, and larger Solo cups or small bowls. I also got some small plastic cups with lids for the kids to take home their bouncy balls. A zippered bag works too.

This gets a little messy, so I covered the tables with dollar store plastic tablecloths that I could just roll up and throw out when we were done. Depending on how much you want to involve actual academics, you can have the kids use the measuring cups and spoons. I was in a hurry in craft club, so I did the measuring. In class, with my own students who I know better and are a bit older, I had them do the measuring. The amounts don't have to be exactly perfect, so they can for sure help out.

I got the idea for this from The 36th Avenue blog. I pretty much followed her directions with some little tweaks and notes from my personal experience that work better in a classroom setting, including doubling the recipe to make larger balls. So allow me to over-explain...  Each child will need 4 tablespoons of white glue in a Dixie cup. I started out using a measuring spoon for this but by the end I was eyeballing it based on the pattern on the cup. Add 2 tablespoons of corn starch to the glue along with a few drops of food coloring and have students stir stir stir with a large popsicle stick or a spoon until it's mixed well. In another larger cup mix a cup of warm water with 2 tablespoons of Borax until it's dissolved. It won't be soapy, just cloudy. After the glue and cornstarch cup is all mixed up, have kids scrape the mixture into the cup of water and Borax. DO NOT MIX! Just have them plop the mixture into the cup and count to at least 15. Then reach into the cup and pull out the glue blob which should now be a semi-solid. It will be sticky! Have the kids roll the mixture into a ball using their hands. Make sure they give it one good squeeze to get all the looser glue to squish out. When it gets too sticky to roll, dip in the Borax solution just for a second or two and miraculously, it gets less sticky and starts to really firm up. At this point it will become a lot easier for the kids to peel the extra bits off their hands as well. That's pretty much it! Just keep rolling and dip if needed and soon a bouncy ball will be yours! It will bounce somewhat, but not like a Superball or anything. It's actually more like a stress ball consistency. As long as they keep the ball in a container or baggie when not in use, it should stay soft and squishy for a while. Reading these directions will probably take longer than actually making it.  I had gloves for all the kids, but the mixture would seriously stick to the gloves and be more trouble than they were worth. After you start rolling, squeeze out the extra, then dip it back in the Borax for a second, the sticky factor reduces by 90%. You can try the gloves, but I found them to be unnecessary.

Have a ton of fun, my friends and keep an eye out soon for another great all-ages craft: salt painting!
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