I am so thrilled to introduce to you this weeks Camp Counselor, Krystle. She’s sharing a simple DIY Shape Lantern and you probably already have the materials right at home. Your kiddos are going to love exploring your backyard with this fun craft and learning activity all bundled into one.
Hi friends! Krystle here from Little Tiny Learner. We were so excited when Ashley asked us to be a part of Backyard Week at Camp Littles and Me. Just this month, we moved from a townhouse in the city with no backyard to a house in the burbs with a big backyard! Karter has been having a blast running around in the grass, searching for animals, putting out carrots for “her bunnies,” and playing in the sprinkler. A while back at grammy and papa’s house, Karter found a camping lantern and had a blast carrying it around the yard and using it to help “search for froggies”. Now every time she explores our new backyard, she asks me for her lantern and that was the inspiration for this DIY Shape Lantern project!
We started with an empty milk carton, opened at the top. I gave it a quick spray with white paint and primer in one spray paint to create a base coat. Then Karter and I worked together to paint it with black chalkboard paint. Once dry, I used a craft knife to cut rectangles out of the front and back panel, leaving a half inch border.
We used contact paper to create the windows of the lantern. Contact paper is one of my favorite craft supplies and I always have it on hand! I cut two large rectangles the size of the whole front panel of the milk carton. I traced the rectangle hole that I cut onto each piece of contact paper to give Karter a work area.
Then out of black paper, I cut a variety of shapes. Right now Karter is very interested in shapes and enjoys practicing the names so I wanted to target that skill with this project. You can decorate your lantern with whatever you would like to target (e.g., letter stickers, animals, colored tissue paper).
I laid out all the shapes I cut and asked Karter to request them from me one at a time to practice the vocabulary. After about five shapes, she decided she needed to “do it myself” but I continued to target the vocabulary by asking her which shape she chose as she placed it on the window. I included several shapes she knows as well as some more complicated ones like a hexagon and octagon. We also targeted fine motor skills with this activity as Karter used a pincer grasp to pick up the small shapes from a flat surface and place them where she wanted.
Once Karter was satisfied with each window, I cut two more rectangles from contact paper, this time the size of the smaller rectangles I cut. We lined them up to the traced lines and stuck the sticky sides together to seal in her beautiful shape design, leaving a sticky border around the outside.
I carefully placed the contact paper sheets inside the milk carton, lined up the windows and attached the sticky part of the contact paper to the inside of the milk carton.
To light our lantern, we used a battery powered pillar candle. This worked great and put out a good amount of light. You could also use a battery powered tea light or glow sticks.
We put the candle in through the top of the open milk carton and then closed it. I used a round hole punch to put two holes in the top of the milk carton and then threaded through a piece of ribbon. I left out a large loop in the back to act as a handle for Karter. Then I tied a bow in the front. I recommend a bow so that you can open the lantern to turn the candle on and off.
Karter was thrilled when she saw her finished lantern and immediately wanted to take it outside! She had a blast carrying it around to “look for animals” but unfortunately it was still light out at her bedtime. We went in the laundry room to test it out in the dark and she loved how it flickered and glowed. As we looked at it in the dark, I asked her again to label the shapes she saw.
We had a blast making our shape lantern with a few simple materials and targeted early math and fine motor skills. Karter has asked to use her lantern every day and we even expanded on the shape practice by using chalk on the solid panels of the milk carton since we painted it with chalkboard paint! I drew the shapes that Karter requested first and then she attempted to traced them or draw them herself. Enjoy!
I absolutely love this idea that Krystle shared! Such a great hands on learning experience to add to all of your backyard fun. If you are looking for more great themed based learning activities, you absolutely MUST go check out Krystle’s blog. She is SO creative and has so many great ideas for each theme she shares. The way she transforms her learning space is incredible. So. much. FUN!
You can follow along with Krystle here:
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