Don't toss out those tired old tennis balls. Save some to make whimsical, "talking" apple puppets! "We had fun with this one. We are into apples these days since our two apple trees are ripe and filled with apples so this was fun," reports Amy who did this project with Addison (7), Kyle (5) and Delaney (18 mo.). "Even my baby had fun with this project."Here is what you need:
- Old tennis ball (If no one in your family plays tennis, ask around until you find a family that does. Someone will probably have some "dead" tennis balls they will be happy to give you. )
- Sharp knife (grownups only!)
- Red paint and a paintbrush (You can skip this part if you're able to find red tennis balls-- look in the pet-toys section of your supermarket.)
- Brown pipe cleaner
- Scrap of green felt
- Two large wiggle eyes
- Masking tape
- Tiny red pom-pom
- Black marker
- White glue or thick blue glue gel
- Newspaper to work on
- Plastic-foam egg carton (for drying the tennis ball on)
Here's what you do:
- Have an adult use a sharp knife to cut a slit across the lower half of the ball for the mouth and to poke a small slit in the top of the ball for the stem. If you have a shop vise, you can use it to hold the ball steady while you make the cuts. The deeper the mouth cut, the easier it will be to squeeze the mouth to open it.
- Paint the ball red. Let it dry on the plastic-foam egg carton.
- Stick a piece of masking tape on the back of each wiggle eye to create a better gluing surface. Glue the eyes on the ball above the mouth.
- Glue on the red pom-pom for the nose.
- Cut a 2-inch piece of brown pipe cleaner for the stem. Push the end of the stem through the hole in the top of the apple.
- Cut a leaf shape from the green felt scrap. Cut a tiny slit at the base of the leaf. Slide the leaf down over the stem through the slit so that it sits on the top of the apple.
- Use the black marker to make a line over the cut mouth to accentuate it.
To make the mouth of the apple open and close, squeeze the ball on each side of the mouth.
This little apple puppet can pick things up with the mouth and swallow them. You might want to make a game of seeing how many things the puppet can pick up and swallow in a set amount of time. Try picking up peppercorns, small pom-poms, or popcorn kernels. "They were more interested in throwing than picking up," one mom confessed, "but they did pick up bits of cereal and raisins. They especially liked to play the 'apple eats your nose game'." More than one family reported apple puppets nibbling at siblings with much giggling a part of the game. "The puppets traveled well in my diaper bag the next day for lunch and munched tortilla chips while we were waiting for our food. Love table entertainment!" said a Cincinnati mother of two.
Note You and your child might want to try using different materials to make the face and stem for the apple puppet. Lori said that her son, Tommy ( 4 ) added ears to the apple using extra pom-poms while an upstate New York family reported adding large pom-pom noses. "Christine (5) said they looked like clowns," said her mom, Peggy. "I'm feeling very crafty about our changes," said another mom. "I did not have green felt on hand so I detached a few leaves from some silk greenery we have in our kitchen and it already had a hole between the leaves to thread on the brown pipe cleaner. I used a marker to outline the mouths and made one a girl with big 'kissy' lips." Beth W. wrote, "Instead of a leaf and brown pipe cleaner, we used a gold pipe cleaner and bent it into antennae. Also our 9-year-old son dropped the ball into the glue and decided he would remedy the oops by rolling it in glitter. He made the cutest alien."
TAKE IT FROM ME:
"We didn't have a vise but found we could cut the tennis balls by moving a serrated knife across in a sawing motion." --a Nebraska mom
"Be sure to make the stem holes large enough to keep them visible once the tennis ball is painted." --The LaClair Family