You never know where or when inspiration will strike. Several years ago I was looking through a magazine that has some holiday decorating ideas. One of the magazine’s ideas was to cut out white dove shapes and hang them from bare decorative branches. It was a perfectly lovely idea, but instantly my mind thought, “Mobiles!” And colorful ones from the kids at that.
When the kids and I are brainstorming ideas for gifts from them to family and close friends, they have to be fun for all of us. And these certainly were. We, as a family, really enjoy mobiles to begin with. In fact, every years we give a mobile to the pediatric intensive care unit at the hospital that treated Alfs during his health crisis as a way to reiterate our thanks – and so current patients can have colorful visual stimuli in their rooms. Mobiles are very “us.” When I suggested the mobiles, the enthusiasm was instant.
We created our mobiles in stages. The first stage was gathering good watercolor paper (large sheets) and good watercolors (more colors than your typical kid craft tray), though our local discount store carries both. We also gathered a hole punch, garden wire, clear filament thread, superglue and needle nose pliers. As a way to actually hang the mobiles, we included small S hooks when we presented them.
After setting up a large area and putting the kids in old tshirts, they each painted two or three sheets of paper in colorful ways of their choosing. It was vibrant, abstract, and lots of fun for them. I made sure that after one side of paper dried, they painted the other side. Mobiles are three-dimensional, after all.
While the kids were doing this, I made a dove shaped cut-out out of poster board that we could use as a stencil. When all the sheets of paper were dry (and kept organized by child, so each mobile would have one dove created by each of them), we traced and cut out the doves.
Assembling the mobiles
After using a hole punch to create a way to hang each dove, we laid one by each child out on a large cookie sheet. Then, after cutting two pieces of wire (one about 10″ and one about 5″) and curling under the ends of the wire, we started cutting the filament thread and tying ends to each part.
We cut the thread lengths so that, when hanging, none of the doves would bump into each other. One dove hung directly from one end of the longer pieces of wire. From the other end of the longer piece of wire, we hung the shorter piece of wire, and then one dove from each end of the shorter piece of wire. Then we attached a longer piece of wire as the hanging wire, moving it around and testing the balance of each mobile as we went.
After tying each end of the thread to the wire or a dove, we used just a drop of super glue to secure our knots. And they were done. It really did not take that long, and we all really enjoyed the process.
This is one of those gifts then was received with as much enthusiasm as it was given. Friends have really enjoyed them – and kept them up long past the holiday season.
Whatever craft or project you choose to do with your kids, finding one that is truly enjoyable for everyone is worth the effort! It was one of those real “holiday spirit” moments.
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