My inspiration came from a project two coworkers did with all of the students in our school. They worked with every student in the school to create a balloon lantern for an evening whole school parade. You can see some images of our school parade at Amy Donohue Photography's blog post on a Full Moon Lantern Parade.
As I helped with my students in the art room I knew this was definitely something we would have to try at home at some point. I had envisioned creating a whole set of planets for Big Brother's Outer Space Birthday party, but later realized it would be a great project for Earth Day.
The materials are pretty simple: a balloon, coffee filters, watered down glue or Mod Podge, and colored tissue paper. We always keep some left over pieces of colored tissue around to reuse from gifts for crafting.
Last year we had made a paper mâché Earth balloon, and Big Brother didn't love the feel of using the paste so for our project I gave him a paintbrush to use in spreading the glue. Before starting we wiped the balloon down with a dryer sheet to help cut down on static electricity and gently taped it in a coffee can. We spread some mod podge on top, and then put a whole coffee filter onto top of the balloon. We painted more glue on top of the filter until the entire thing was wet and stuck to the balloon.
We repeated these steps using half coffee filters until the entire balloon was covered.
At that point Big Brother was a little tired from the process, so I did a second layer of coffee filters while he played. We probably could have let it dry between layers, but we were eager to get it done for Earth Day.
Afterwards we ripped up pieces of green and blue tissue and placed them onto the wet balloon. I had thought about trying to place the tissue onto the balloon so it looked like the actual continents, but Big Brother was more interested in just getting the paper onto the balloon.
We worked together to cover almost all of the white on the balloon, we left a little up top because that is where the "snow is." When we were done we let the balloon dry for 24 hours.
The next day we popped the balloon, and we were left with a beautiful paper shell.
On it's own, the balloon looks great and caught people's attention as they've come to the house this week. But it looks even better when it is lit by an LED tea light (we do not recommend using a real tea light candle due to the flammable nature of the Earth.)
Our lantern made a nice addition to our table during meals and also at bedtime when we really could enjoy the glowing. We also poked a small hole in the top so we could hang it with string later if we liked.
This week we revisited some of the books we read last year and talked about ways we can care for the Earth. We've worked on a few other projects as well.
What have you done to celebrate Earth Day this week?