Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cut Paper - Simple Mobiles

The children create paper figures and then find the balance points to make simple mobiles. For ages 6 to 9. Plan 2 sessions.

  • Finding balance points
  • Constructing mobiles
  • Working with three-dimensional form
mobile, balance point, three-dimensional, theme

  • Colored construction paper (see note below)
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks
  • Slightly dampened sponges
  • Clear fishing line–eight-pound or stronger is easier to handle
  • Invisible tape
  • Example of a hanging mobile
Note: 100% sulphite construction paper is stronger than regular construction paper and will make figures which are less prone to sagging.

First Session
  • Set out construction paper, scissors, glue, and sponges.
  • Have available an example of a mobile to share.
How to Begin
  • Show an example of a hanging mobile to the children and explain that mobiles in art are constructions which move freely in space, making them three-dimensional or viewable from all sides. In this session, the children will be making figures which they will use in the next session to construct mobiles.
  • After choosing themes, or unifying ideas, such as "underwater," "on the farm," or "in the sky," the children should make three or more related figures for their mobiles. Explain that the figures should be large enough to be seen when hanging, but not so large that the paper sags. At least one of the figures needs to be wide enough to allow several figures to hang freely from it. For example, a bird’s wings might be outstretched so figures can hang from each side without becoming tangled. Since the movement of the mobiles will make both sides of the figures visible, the backs must also be completed.
  • Explain that the construction paper on the tables is for sharing. Each child should start by choosing one color of paper and when finished cutting from it, return the paper to the middle of the table for someone else to use, and then choose another color. (A scrap paper bin is fun to search through for special and unusual colors.)
  • Remind the children that when attaching two pieces of paper, they should apply the glue to the smaller piece and press it onto the larger piece. The sponges can be used to wipe sticky fingers.
  • Have the children make their figures, encouraging them to include details on both sides.
Note:  The children's work can be stored in individual sheets of folded newsprint.

Second Session
  • For each child, cut five six-inch pieces of fishing line and one long piece for hanging the mobile.
  • Set out the completed figures from the first session.
  • Set out scissors, invisible tape, and cut-pieces of fishing line.
How to Begin
  • In this session, the children will be learning to balance the figures to make their mobiles.
  • Explain that the balance point is the point on each figure which allows it to hang straight. In order to find the balance point, hold the figure very loosely between the tips of two fingers with just enough pressure to keep the paper from slipping out. Hold the figure at various places until you find the point where it will hang straight and not fall to one side.
  • Have the children plan an arrangement of their figures on a flat surface, keeping in mind that the figures will need to move freely without touching. 
  • Explain that the children will be working from the bottom of their arrangements to the top. First they should find the balance points of the figures positioned on the bottom row of the mobile. Tape fishing line to these balance points and attach them to the figures in the second row of the mobile. Then find the balance points of the second-row figures with the first-row figures attached. Again use tape to attach fishing line from the balance points to the figures in the third row of the mobile. As each attachment is made, be sure it hangs straight and can turn freely. Attach the longer piece of fishing line to the top of the mobile so it can hang from a ceiling. If any parts of the completed mobiles tip to one side, the children can either adjust the balance points from which the figures hang, rearrange the figures, or add a figure to the short side.
  • As the mobile grows, the children will need to help each other by holding the fishing line while the figures are being adjusted. When the mobile is completed and all figures are hanging straight, have the children press the invisible tape tightly so it will become more invisible and the fishing line won’t slip out.
  • This project is a good first experience with making mobiles since the balance points do not need to be so precise.
  • The children should understand that the backs of the figures are not just repeats of the fronts. For example, the front of an animal might have a face while the back would show a tail.
  • Complete the mobile before pressing the tape firmly so any necessary adjustments can be made to balance the figures.
  • Are the figures three-dimensional or viewable from all sides?
  • Do the figures hang straight?
  • Can the figures move freely without bumping into each other?
What the children might say...
  • How many figures can I make?
  • Do all the figures on my mobile need to be the same?
  • I cut the fishing line too short and now it won’t work.
  • I can’t hold up my mobile and fix it at the same time.
  • How can I tell if a figure will bump into the one next to it?
What you might say...
  • You can decide the number of figures to use in you mobile. However, be sure to complete the first three figures before you start to make anymore.
  • You can make all the figures different or all the same—just remember to keep them related to your theme.
  • It’s best to trim the fishing line after you have planned your arrangements. However, there is extra fishing line if you need it.
  • Ask a friend to hold up your mobile while you make adjustments.
  • A good way to test that your figures move freely is by gently blowing on your mobile.
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