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Simple Paper-Plate Crafts

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You can make six fun crafts just from plain old paper plates! All you need are the usual crafting supplies and a few other odds and ends you probably have around the house. Then you’re all set for summer fun! Kids ages 3 to 6 may need a bit of help from you, and older kids can probably do them on their own.
Paper Plate Crafts

1. Tour de France Race

The Tour de France bike race runs for 21 days every July. Watch the race on TV to see how the riders are doing each day. The leader will be wearing the yellow jersey (in French, the maillot jaune). Make your own race course!

What You’ll Need
  • Paper plates
  • Scissors
  • Markers or crayons
  • Glue
  • 12-inch ruler or paint stirrer
  • Small magnets* from a craft shop
What You'll Do
  1. Make a bike rider: Cut out and color a yellow jersey from a paper plate, and glue it to a magnet. Or you can glue a sticker of a bike rider to a magnet.
  2. Make a magnet stick:  Glue small magnets (we used two for extra power) to the end of a ruler or stirrer. Be sure the magnets on your stick are “mates” to the magnets you use on your bike rider so they attract rather than repel each other.
  3. Using an atlas or an online map as a general guide (you can see a map at the Tour de France website), outline France on a paper plate with a black marker. Draw a wiggly line around the map to approximate the bike route, and highlight it using a colored marker.
  4. To start the race, place the bike rider on top of the plate and the magnet stick below. Use your magnet stick to guide your rider around this hilly and challenging route.

2. Balloon-Ball Tennis

Make paper-plate tennis racquets and a balloon tennis ball to bat  back and forth with a friend. Or play by yourself and see how many times you can keep the balloon in play before it gets away from you!

What You’ll Need
  • Heavyweight paper plates
  • Scissors
  • Markers or crayons
  • Black marker
  • Ruler
  • 2 paint stirrers
  • Poster paints
  • Duct tape or hot glue gun
  • Rubber balloon
What You'll Do
  1. Cut out  each racquet head from a paper plate.
  2. Paint the edge of your racquet and, if you like, outline it with a black marker.
  3. Use a ruler and a marker to draw a grid of “strings” on the racquet head.
  4. Paint a stirrer with poster paint.
  5. Attach the handle to the head with duct tape or hot glue.
  6. Repeat to make a second racquet for a friend.
  7. Blow up the balloon to tennis-ball size and play!

3. Robot, Bunny, and Train Masks

Help kids play pretend! For each of these three masks, cut out eye holes (try a small jar as a guide) positioned to fit your child‘s eyes. If you’re making the bunny mask, save these cutouts. Punch one hole at eye level on either side of the plate. This is where you’ll put the elastic or ribbon to fasten the mask to your face.

What You’ll Need
  • Paper plates
  • Paints and paintbrushes
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Markers or crayons
  • Elastic or ribbon
  • Shiny hardware* such as washers, keys, or wire (for robot mask)
  • Small springs from old ballpoint pens* (for robot mask)
  • Aluminum foil (for robot mask)
  • 2 cotton balls (for train mask)
  • Paint stirrer or craft stick (for train mask)
Robot Mask
What You'll Do
  1. Paint a paper plate gray. (Hint: We used a blow dryer to make the paint dry faster.)
  2. Glue on a smile, using shiny hardware, and eyebrows, using small springs.
  3. Cut lollipop-shaped antennas out of paper plates and paint them red on both sides.
  4. Wrap the antenna stems with foil and tape or glue them to the plate.
Bunny Rabbit Mask
What You'll Do
  1. Paint the eye-hole cutouts pink. When dry, glue below the eye holes to be bunny cheeks.
  2. Cut a triangle nose from the paper plate, paint it pink. When dry, glue it on.
  3. Draw whiskers and bunny mouth and teeth.
  4. Cut out long ears from paper plates, and paint the centers pink. When dry, glue ears to top of mask.
Train-Engine Mask
What You'll Do
  1. Paint a paper plate blue. When dry, draw a nose and a smile on the plate with a black marker.
  2. To make a smokestack, color the paint stirrer or craft stick black. When dry, tape or glue it to the top of the paper plate.
  3. Shred two cotton balls and glue them to the back of the craft stick so that they puff out like smoke.
  4. Tie on your mask and start your journey, making loud choo-choo noises!

4. Palm Tree on a Desert Island

Aargh, mateys—you’re shipwrecked on a desert island! Luckily, a treasure chest washed up too, and your fishnet caught a few fish. You should be happy in paradise until rescue arrives.

What You’ll Need
  • Scissors
  • Cardboard paper-towel tube
  • Paper plates
  • Markers or crayons, or paint and paintbrush
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Decorative treasures (we used “pearls” from an old Christmas ornament and a seashell)
  • Netting from a bag of citrus
  1. Cut a 2-inch piece from the end of the paper-towel tube and set aside. Save it for the treasure chest (see below). The rest of the tube is now your tree trunk.
  2. Cut four palm fronds from the edge of a paper plate. Color them green.
  3. Paint the back of a paper plate yellow or a sand color. Cut a hole in the plate big enough to insert the tree trunk. Insert the tree trunk in the hole and have it extend an inch or so on the underside of the plate. (To stabilize the tree, make six ½-inch cuts in the bottom of the trunk, fan out the pieces, and tape them in place.) Stick your palm fronds in the top of the palm tree. They should stay in place, but you can tape or glue them if you like. 
  4. Now make your treasure chest: Gently flatten one side of the two-inch paper towel tube so that it rests flat with a curved top. Draw straps, rivets, and a lock and keyhole using markers or crayons. Tape or glue the chest to the sand.
  5. Cut out fish and wave shapes from paper plates, and glue them to the island, along with pearls, fishnet, sand (optional), and anything else you might imagine washing up on your desert island.

5. Necktie Card for Dad

What You’ll Need
  • Paper plate
  • Scissors
  • Markers or crayons
What You'll Do
  1. Draw a necktie on a paper plate and cut it out.
  2. Decorate the tie any way you like. We used diagonal stripes, but your dad might like happy faces, hearts, polka dots, or a symbol of his favorite hobby, like fishing, golf, or playing cards.
  3. Write a sweet Father’s Day message on the back of your necktie card. (You could also use this card for birthday wishes or any special message you want to send to your dad).

6. Alien Observer from Outer Space

An alien from another planet has come to visit! He’ll want to observe everything Earthlings do, so set your spacecraft on the dinner table, on your desk while you do your homework, or on your bedside table while you sleep at night. (For an eerie glow, make your spacecraft into a bedside nightlight by nestling a small flashlight or a battery-operated votive into the cellophane between the paper plates.)

What You’ll Need
  • Paper plates
  • Stapler
  • Red cellophane
  • Glue
  • Buttons* or uncooked pasta wheels* or round oat cereal
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Aluminum foil
  • Markers or crayons
What You'll Do
  1. Make the spacecraft from two paper plates by stapling the back edges together in three places for a clamshell effect. Stuff your spacecraft with several pieces of crumpled-up cellophane, and let some ragged edges stick out.
  2. Glue buttons, cereal, or pasta around the top of the spacecraft as “windows.”
  3. Make the top port of the spacecraft, which will look like an upside-down cupcake:  Cut out the ridged edge of a paper plate and curve it into a cupcake shape. Use tape to hold the circle in place.
  4. Snip the wide edge of the port with a scissors to make “legs” that, when pressed out, offer support. Glue the port to the top of the spacecraft. Insert a piece of aluminum foil in the top to make a collar for your alien.
  5. To make your alien, cut a tab shape from a paper plate and glue on a button face.
  6. Draw antennas and a body. Insert your alien into the foil collar.

* These could be choking hazards, so adult supervision is a must!

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