Art Christmas Holidays and Seasonal Language Arts Seasonal/Holiday

Recycled Can Characters

Here’s a great reason to eat potato chips. Have your students collect Pringles cans and upcycle them into a great holiday activity.  This activity will work with other types of cans that made of cardboard with a metal base and plastic lid.

We made our cans into snowmen, penguins, Santas, elves and reindeer. We have specific instructions for each type below, but all the projects require these steps.

Clean out the inside of the can. Eat all the chips and then wipe out the can with a dry paper towel. Have students write their names on the metal bottom of the can because once they start working, it will be a challenge to do this. Paint the cans with acrylic paint (we added some white glue to our liquid pringlecans1tempera) as the cans often have a plastic-like coating to protect it.  It will likely take two coats, possibly more depending on the painting skills of your students. We arranged students in groups of desks with the same colour so that we only needed one dish of each colour: white, brown, red, green. We wrapped a plate in plastic wrap (taped it to the bottom) for the paint which made for very easy clean up.  Students put their hands inside the cans and then painted the entire outside of the can but not the base or the lid. They were encouraged to make their brush strokes in the same direction to help with paint coverage. Once we painted the second coat of the base colour, we left these to dry overnight.

On day two, students added their own details. We had a pile of googly eyes, felt, material scraps, buttons, yarn, glitter, paper scraps, pipecleaners, cotton balls and pompoms (basically all the ends of all the packages of art supplies from the year along with a few items from the dollar store and donations from families). Two parent helpers joined us for operation of the hot glue guns. They were there to supervise students who used them and prevent any burns or fires. Students also used white glue (and glue sponges) to attach many of their pieces of paper and fabric.

Penguin: once the black is dried, paint a white belly and face. This can be done on day one.  Add feet to the bottom of the can so it stays stable.

Santa and elves: use a skin colour to paint a large circle for the face. This can be done on day one. Both can add their hat to the lid. Help with a hot glue gun to make it stay attached in a pointed fashion may be needed.

Snowmen: Make a top hat and consider letting students use some small twigs for the arms. Many of our snowmen were wearing scarves and vests.

Reindeer: Use pipecleaners or paper to create antlers.

This project kept our students SO engaged and busy. We’ve done it over multiple years and it’s always a hit. They trashed the classroom. Painting took about an hour and half from beginning to the end of cleanup. Details took about two hours, but they could have kept going if we’d let them. Clean up took about thirty minutes (we’re not going to talk about the glitter in the vent). Have students place a note or small gift (one year we made flavoured popcorn) in a bag inside the can as a gift. We recommend using the bag as the inside of the can often still has an oily residue. Merry Christmas!

WAIT JUST A MINUTE! This isn’t just a holiday inspired activity. Consider having your students do this activity with characters from a book they’ve read. BOOM! Now it’s Language Arts! How else could you use this activity? Let us know in the comments below.

Love the Ninjas

 

 

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