Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine's Day Sun Catchers

My friend, Kim, first told me about this sun catcher craft two years ago as a Valentine's project, and we have made many, many sun catchers since then such as these shamrocks, these Dr. Seuss-inspired fish, these Easter sun catchers, these autumn sun catchers, and these Christmas sun catchers, to name a few. Interestingly enough, this was actually the first time we made them for Valentine's Day. Anyway, I decided that it would be a nice project to do with the kindergarten class for Mia's classroom party. This was one of those times when I got into the thick of it and realized I may have bitten off more than I could chew. It's not a hard project, but it does require plenty of adult prep, and trying to make enough for 25 kids plus a few extras (I planned for a total of 30 Valentine's Day sun catchers), takes awhile. Thankfully, the kids loved it, the parents were impressed, and the teacher and para-pro thought it was the perfect craft: no glue, no glitter, no kids running with scissors... what's not to love from their perspective, right? I thrive compliments, so it made me feel good that my time was well-spent.

One mom asked me if they really do shine through and look pretty in the windows, and I told her that they definitely do. It's a bit like stained glass. Plus, they hold up decently well. We pack ours away and bring them out again at the next year's holiday. There is some fading, but they still look attractive from one year to the next. So, I think this craft is a winner, all around.

  • construction paper (red, pink, and purple)
  • scissors
  • clear Con-tact paper
  • colored tissue paper (red, pinks, purples, other heart or similar patterned papers)
  • paper trimmer (optional)
  • clear tape (for hanging)

  1. Cut colored tissue paper into small squares. Older kids can do this themselves, but I did all the prep work myself before the party. I used approximately 1 inch squares, but you could make yours bigger or smaller depending on the age of the children. Tip: To make this process go faster, layer a couple of pieces of tissue paper together, cut into smaller rectangles, and then cut the rectangles into strips, re-layering as needed. Put as many strips together as you can comfortably cut before cutting smaller squares.
  2. Fold a piece of construction paper in half like a hamburger. 
  3. Fold the paper in half again, hamburger style, and use scissors to cut half a heart shape along the fold. Open the paper up. You should have two identical heart shapes cut onto one piece of paper that is still folded in half, hamburger style.
  4. Cut two pieces of clear Con-tact paper (I used both a paper trimmer and scissors for this.) so that they are at least 1/2 to 1 inch larger than the construction paper all the way around. Tip: Do not remove backing from contact paper until you are ready to use it.
  5. Adhere one side of the paper to the clear Con-tact paper so that there is a border of at least 1/2 inch all around the paper. Tip: Slowly peel the Con-tact paper away from the backing as you smooth the construction paper down onto the contact paper. This way you don't end up with "bubbles."
  6. Have your child stick tissue paper squares onto the Con-tact paper heat shape until it is filled. Tip: You can use two different colors or shades of the same color (pink, purple, etc.) of tissue paper to give the sun catcher a more complex design. It looks especially nice where the two colors have overlapped in places.
  7. Layer the other half of construction paper on top of the first, making sure that the heart shapes line up.
  8. Add the second piece of Con-tact paper over the top, smoothing it down as you go. Trim away excess if desired, but don't trim too much or the sun catcher will not stay together. 1/4 inch is the minimum border I would recommend.
  9. You can display your sun catcher in a window using clear tape. Another option is to use a hole punch to make two holes near the top, thread some ribbon or yarn through the holes, tie it off, and then hang your sun catcher.

If you are making this with a large group such as a kindergarten class, here are a few more tips:
  • Do your preparations in an assembly line fashion. Get all of the construction paper folded and cut, then cut all tissue paper, and lastly, cut all Con-tact paper to size (2 pieces per sun catcher).
  • If you have a paper trimmer, and if you Con-tact paper will fit into it, this will save you time. Otherwise, it is fortunate that it is printed with guidelines for you to follow with your scissors.
  • To get the project ready for the group, press hearts onto the Con-tact paper and lay out sticky side up on a table. 
  • I set out different colors of tissue paper in plastic bowls, which worked well.
  • The class did this project on the floor and that worked fine except for the occasional bit of dirt or something that got stuck to the Con-tact paper. It wasn't really a big deal, though. They just didn't have much extra table space available since they were eating ice cream sundaes.
  • Have kids write their names before starting to add tissue paper.
  • Do not peel off backing from the additional sheets on Con-tact paper until kids have finished their projects.
  • Have fun. You did all the "hard" work beforehand.

No comments:

Post a Comment