Friday, 6 February 2009

2 Floating Things - Boats and a Valentines gift for D

I'm linking this post to Unplug Your Kids because their theme this week is 'Float'!

I had a brief origami phase a little while ago, and thought it would be fun to make origami boats. Unfortunately the internet connection was down, but I managed to half remember and half make-up a vague boat thing. Once I had a passable prototype I had showed, and he was keen to join in. So I made another one and he copied with his own piece of paper. This was just the right level of challenge for him, it was pretty fiddly but he persisted and was proud of the result.

Why is water with food colouring in it so exciting? There's something very magical about it.
We didn't have any proper origami paper so just used notepaper torn down to a square shape. They floated very nicely and could be made to move around the bowl by flicking the water.

They got soggy pretty quickly though, and sank! But then learning about sinking is also part of learning about floating, right?

This was a fun quick thing to do after school. The boats might last longer if made of sturdier paper though. It kept us happy for 20 minutes or so!

Here are some origami links if you're interested:

Introduction to Origami and simple models

Some nice friendly origami patterns listed by theme

Some fascinating mathematical modular origami

And here is a Valentines floating craft:

My Ma always used to make sure there was a little gift waiting on the breakfast table for my brother and I on Valentines Day. We usually do the same for D, and I thought this year I'd make him a snow globe to go with his little collection from days out.
D's current collection (needs dusting):We have made these before at Xmas, and they are pretty easy.

Here's how to make one if you're interested. In the past we've made little figures and glued them to the inside of a jam jar lid to make a scene, but they always seem to come loose in the end. So this time I thought I'd use that shrinky plastic stuff to spell out the words 'I heart U', and just let them jiggle around in the first place. So I drew some hearts on the shrinky plastic and coloured them in with permanent markers.

Then I cooked them! I've found its good to do this on the back of an oven tray, because then you can wallop a wooden board on them as soon as they come out to make them nice and flat. After cooking they looked a lot neater I think:
Then put some glycerine, maybe a teaspoonful, into the jam jar. This isn't vital, but it makes the glitter swirl and fall more slowly like shop-bought ones. If it wasn't used the plastic hearts would probably sink immediately, and it also allows other heavier items like sequins and beads to be added. Then fill it almost to the top with tap water. Add some glitter, the hearts, and sequins or whatever. Screw the lid on and shake (over the sink if you don't want to make a mess) to see if the desired effect has been achieved. If not, add more glitter. If lots of glitter stays floating on the top, skim it off with a teaspoon. Fill it right up with water, carefully turn upside down, dry it off and squeeze plenty of superglue all around the lid to make it watertight. There is probably a better glue for this purpose, but I don't own it.

I hope he likes it! I'd better save up some more jars because I think he'll want to do again himself...


  1. That's a cute idea! I have some of that shrinking plastic around here somewhere, because I had been using it to make pirate themed jewelry for my daughter last Fall.

  2. That is super cute! I didn't know you could use markers on shrinky dinks...we've always used pencils.

  3. Paper boats are always fun, even if they start to sink over time :) Love the shrinky paper idea also, we used to have some around here but I think I may have donated the stuff when we moved!

  4. Wonderful ideas. I had such a problem thinking of projects for "float" and you came up with two terrific ones, thank you!

    I especially liked your snow globe. I have seen them done with oil and water before, but yours looks more authentic.

    The shrinkies in there are a very original idea. Thanks for the tip about bashing them straight out of the oven. I have had curling problems before too, and never really figured out what to do about it!

  5. I read that you can use #6 plastic (look on the bottom of the container where the recycling numbers are)to make shrinky plastic stuff.

  6. Thanks for that, I had heard something similar but not which number. Not sure I'm brave enough to experiment with plastic though!

  7. Cute! Wombat got his first snow globe this week - great timing for making one :D

  8. Thanks for the tip about the glycerin. I have tried to make our own snow globes before but never saw a tip about adding glycerin to make the shapes fall more slowly. That is one thing that always disappointed us when we made them before. I loved the use of the shrinky plastic stuff too, I used to use that for all kinds of things when I was younger. I need to try these again with my kids now that we know about the glycerin.

  9. What a lovely snowglobe. Where do you get gkycerin from? really want to try that one. I wonder if you could make them watertight with coloured duct tape?

    and the boats look great fun.

  10. You should be able to get little bottles of glycerine from a supermarket, or if not from anywhere selling cake decorating goods because it is used in some types of icing I think. You mighht also be able to get it from good chemists - I think we got some there once for making cough medicine. Googling glycerine might be dangerous cos I think it can also be used to make explosives! Is there anything glycerine can't do?