We’ve got a ways to go until Halloween, but you can make these spooky milk jug creatures year-round (and a simple change in mouth shape can easily change their mood). This project is incredibly simple and translates well across age groups.
- Empty, clean milk jugs
- Spray paint primer
- Acrylic or tempera craft paint
- Googly eyes
- Craft foam or cardstock
- Feather boa
- Hot glue gun
Prepare the Project:
- Cut out a gaping mouth shape toward the base of the jugs with sharp scissors.
- In a well-ventilated area, spray the jugs with a coat or two of primer (this is an important step! The paint will not apply well if you leave this step out.)
Make Some Art:
- Paint the jugs however you like. Some kids go for as many colors as possible while others prefer a theme like pumpkin or bat.
- Allow the jugs to dry. A hair dryer is useful here to speed this up, especially if the paint is thick in places.
- While the jugs are drying, trace the kids’ hands and feet onto the craft foam and cut them out. One of our art camp kids did wings instead of hands! Love it!
- Draw and cut out tooth shapes from craft foam or cardstock.
- *This is a job for the adult* Using a hot glue gun, attach the googly eyes, the teeth, and the hands/feet. You may try standard liquid glue here in place of a hot glue gun, but in my opinion it’s too much of a hassle to hold everything in place until it’s secure. And just when you think they’re attached, you turn around and next thing you know an eyeball is sliding down the face.
- Now add the accessories- we used tinsel for “barf” but it could also make some funky hair. You can also snip small sections of feather boa for hair, or perhaps create a spooky bird creature and line it with boa feathers!
- Create names and stories for the creatures. Where do they live? What do they eat? Are they scary, or nice? They make an excellent creative writing prompt.
- You can easily begin your art session with a simple primer on color mixing. Provide only the three primary colors and help the kids experiment with mixing new colors. When we ran this project as a three-hour art camp, we spent the first hour just exploring with the paints and mixing colors. We also used this exploration time to learn what happens if you add water to your paint.
- Use a piece of posterboard to paint a spooky backdrop for your creature, and then display them together. It makes delightful Halloween decor!
This project comes from my 7 Wonders of the World summer elementary program curriculum, which I will be sharing more about soon! The topic at hand is the Lighthouse of Alexandria, a marvel of the ancient Egyptian world. After reading a few books about the lighthouse and making a study of lighthouses in general, this is a fun collaborative project for a variety of ages that results in a beautiful piece for a schoolyard or garden.
- Terracotta flower pots in three sizes- small, medium, large.
- Two terracotta plant saucers- large and small
- Acrylic paints- you’ll want genuine acrylic and not washable tempera if you intend to keep your lighthouse outside. Otherwise tempera should be fine.
- A small solar-powered garden light
- E6000 epoxy (or similar heavy-duty adhesive)
Prepare the Project:
- Lay down butcher paper or newspaper to protect your work surface.
- Set out paintbrushes.
- Squirt paint into small cups or onto trays (paper plates are my go-to).
- Space the pots (upside-down) and saucers out around the workspace so they’re easily accessible by everyone participating.
- It’s helpful to spread some photos of different kinds of lighthouses around the work space for inspiration.
Make Some Art:
- It’s as simple as painting the pots however you like! This can be a great exercise in collaboration if you’re working with multiple kids. Are they all going to cooperate to keep consistent colors/patterns, or will it just be a free-for-all? Some kids like to add windows and doors to give the lighthouse a realistic look, and others like to cover it in dinosaurs and dragons. :)
- You may need to clarify which parts of the pots need to be painted- the inside of the pots won’t be visible, so you can leave them plain. Make sure your artists understand that the pots will be displayed upside-down. The “tops” (actually the bottoms of the pots) will also not be visible. The outside rim and the top of the small saucer will be visible, and only the outside rim of the large saucer.
- Leave the pots to dry- anywhere from 2-24 hours depending on paint thickness.
- In a well-ventilated area, place a thin line of E6000 epoxy around the bottom of the rim of the large pot, and place it firmly over the large saucer.
- Place a thin line of epoxy around the inside rim of the medium pot, and place it firmly over the top of the large pot.
- Place a thin line of epoxy around the inside rim of the smallest pot and place it firmly over the top of the medium pot.
- Place a thin line of E6000 epoxy around the top rim of the smallest pot, and place the plant saucer on top.
- Glue the solar light on top. How you accomplish this may vary depending on what kind of light you find. We found small garden stake solar lights at the Dollar Tree, and we were able to easily pop the light off of the stake and glue it onto the plant saucer.
- Make sure the epoxy has set well enough that the lighthouse won’t fall apart, and leave it to cure in an undisturbed place.
- Draw up “plans” first for how the finished lighthouse should look. Get your group collaborating ahead of time so they begin the painting portion with a plan in mind.
- To teach a more thoughtful process, have the kids pencil their designs onto the pots before painting.
- You can easily make individual mini lighthouses with single small pots- use a medium saucer for the base.