Friday, April 10, 2009

kid craft: egg cartons into eggs

egg carton eggs

recently, our city switched over to a single stream recycling system with lovely rolling blue bins. it's great, you can recycle... well, pretty much everything. paperboard. (ooh!) every number of plastic. (ahh!) combine that with our backyard composter (which is where our flushable diapers end up, along with the usual kitchen scraps and such), and we now have to take the trash out because it starts to get gross rather than because the trash can is full. weird.

the exception to this is egg cartons (the cardboardy kind). i find them consternating -- can't recycle them (hmm, or can i? keep meaning to check on that, their website leaves it open to interpretation), don't want to throw them away. i've taken several to my daughter's preschool for art projects, and we've used them for a few things at home, but somehow we always have at least three floating around the house. until the baby chews on them, generally.

we have an annual egg hunt with friends in the park -- everyone contributes eggs then we hurry to "hide" them while barely holding the kids at bay, then they run around like crazy scooping them all up. who knew something so simple could be so fun? last year, i made fabric eggs. this year i was stumped.

until i spied those egg cartons in the corner.

i don't really know what to call these things. they make me think of wee tiny pinatas, but they also work a bit like cascarones if you fill them with confetti. they're papier-mache. they're fortune eggs. how about "recycled egg carton fortune egg hunt eggs"?

who cares what they're called. here's how we made them (the quick version, because there's not much to mess up, and also because i'm sleepy).

in progress:  egg cartons into eggs

cardboard egg carton(s) -- each carton yeilds 6 eggs
newspaper or a paper bag
paper confetti (optional but fun)
tissue paper (optional)
paints, stamps, crayons, etc (optional)

1. cut & trim egg cartons
remove the lid and flap from the egg carton, leaving just the egg holding part. cut apart each of the 12 egg cups. trim off the extra bits to yeild a nice round egg half that doesn't have anything sticking out to the side. (the parts that stick straight up are fine to leave if you just round them off a bit -- that can help the egg halves to lock together.) the trimming is not absolutely necessary but yeilds a smoother more egg-shaped egg in the end.

2. fill the eggs with a surprise
my 3-year-old assistant decided to fill the eggs with "jokes", which eventually morphed into suggestions for fun activities ("hug a friend that you love", "run up the hill and sing a song", "jump up and down on one foot", you get the idea). you could make up fortune-cookie type fortunes, coupons for favors/activities (particularly within the family), scavenger hunt clues, or trinkets of some sort. or candy. there's always candy. don't forget the confetti if you like that sort of thing (the biodegradable paper kind, please).

3. seal them up
we papier-mached (hey is that a legit verb?) them closed. we used a paste made of slightly more water than flour applied to strips of paper bag (because the newspapers had just been part of the recycling pick-up the day before). just dip your strip of paper in the paste, wipe off the excess (you know the drill), then wind it around the seam between the two egg halves and smooth it down a little. you can let them dry at this point, or continue immediately to the next step. if it needs more structure, you can add a second strip of paper, but i found that they held together just fine.

4. decorate
to cover with tissue paper, dab a bit of paste onto the egg (because you can't dip the tissue into the paste directly, it disintegrates). wind the tissue -- assorted colors or not -- around the egg until you're happy. one layer or many, it doesn't matter for structure, it's purely decorative. once they dry, you can further decorate with paint, crayons, etc. we used some dot ink stampers.

that's it! assuming you don't add too many layers of tissue, these dry pretty quickly so you don't need too much advance planning (says the woman posting this the day before easter). they're ready for all your fake egg needs, easter or otherwise. you probably shouldn't whack anyone on the head with them (as they're harder than you might think -- the eggs, not the heads), but they're perfectly suited for some gleeful stomping. enjoy!