Rainbow Mobiles with Recycled Materials

I love making art out of household items that normally would be thrown in the trash. I believe it’s important for students to bring items from home and see how they can be turned into art because the magic changes from abstract concept to reality. This week’s Rainbow Mobiles were a great example of how we can be stewards of our planet and creative artists at the same time.
This particular project requires pre-drilling holes in the bottle caps and punching holes in the paper rolls but prepping the materials is well worth the product.
Supply List:

  • toilet paper rolls (two holes pre-punched on the top, three holes pre-punched on the bottom)
  • pipe cleaners (half size for the top and full size for the bottom)
  • colored tape (masking, duct or washi)
  • plastic bottle tops from juice milk (holes pre-drilled to fit pipe cleaners)
  • pens (with the middle take out)
  • straws (cut down into small pieces about one inch)

We first covered the roll with colored tape. I challenged students three years and older to completely cover their roll. I explained different options of color and pattern combinations  showing them two examples, one with linear stripes and one with wacky overlapping pieces of tape in a fun confetti design. Then I set them free to come up with their own design.
Working on a cylinder is tricky because it rolls around. I was impressed with how several students solved this problem and were able to work independently by standing up or laying the roll in their lap for more control.
Because I support process over product I didn’t pressure my youngest students to cover their roll. When they felt complete taping I offered them markers to fill in blanks or add finishing touches.
Drawing has become an increased focus in the studio and students are loving it!
This project was heavy on fine motor skills. Sliding the hollowed out pens, bottle caps, and straws onto the pipe cleaners required focus and control. Students were allowed to use any combination of the above materials in any order and amount that they could dream up…and of course fit together with just about an inch on the end to twist into a tear drop as a stopper.
Even my 18 month old students love to bead (which is essentially the process used for the bottom dangles). It’s important when possible that they hold both ends to sharpen their hand eye and have full control.
Here are just a few of our finished mobiles.

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