Teachingartonthecheap's Blog

Kindergarten: Corn Packing Peanut Sculptures

Posted on: April 5, 2010

Creative Reuse Lesson Plan         Kindergarten: Plants

Written by Keri Piehl for SCRAP /Whitman ES 2009-10

Corn Packing Peanut Sculptures

Cost per student: Potentially nothing, if you can find someone getting rid of a bag. I picked up my 5 foot tall bag next to a dumpster.

Materials: Corn packing peanuts, small bowls for water, water. If working indoors, something for the kids to build on (I used lids from Rubbermaid tubs), some Styrofoam peanuts to show the kids (I just packed a Ziploc bag with them so they didn’t make a mess)

Students will create sculptures using a plant-derived material

Elements of art: form

Vocabulary: biodegradable

1. I gathered the students and showed them the Styrofoam peanuts. I asked them what they were; some kids knew. We talked about what you would usually do with them. I showed them some of the corn-based packing peanuts (clarify the name peanut is derived from the shape – otherwise it can be confusing as to why people call them that) and we talked about how corn is a plant and that these were made from plants, but the Styrofoam ones were made from a kind of plastic.

2. You can discuss the environmental implications for both kinds of peanuts. I then showed the kids how, if you dip one end of a corn based peanut in water quickly, then press it to another peanut, and count to 3, when you let go, they will stick together. Kids were pretty delighted with this breakthrough.

3. I showed them how to build on top of their lid (as the corn material breaks down, it gets sticky. If at all possible, work outside on the grass. That cuts down on mess and the leftovers can just biodegrade after the next rain.

4. Really stress that you don’t need to soak anything in the water – it will quickly become a mess disaster. I didn’t explain that well enough with one class and many kids got frustrated and didn’t enjoy themselves very much, I feel.

5. When you are all done, kids can pour out the extra water right on their sculptures to watch them dissolve. This type of art might be okay to be on display on your classroom windowsill for a day or two, but it definitely won’t make it home in one or even a few pieces. Take a photo to preserve it and relish in the destruction and fleeting existence of art. J

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1 Response to "Kindergarten: Corn Packing Peanut Sculptures"

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!! I have been desperately searching for a project to do for Green Day in Sherwood. Your stick books are perfect!!!! The supplies are easy and cheap – I bought a box of stir sticks at SCRAP awhile back and they are perfect!! And I love that they are refillable! I appreciate you guys!

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