Ahh, bottle caps. How I love thee. It started with the bottle cap mural and the love affair continues. I have maybe a bazillion bottle caps left over from the mural project, so when I was asked to come up with a mobile project after our school visited the Calder exhibit at LACMA, bottle cap mobiles seemed like a logical choice. I never anticipated how much the kids would love these! Every 2nd grader was successful with this project and each one looked different, which is one of the prereqs for any art project I like to do. There definitely are a few tricks for making this successful so see below on how we made this project a big win in our classroom.
What you need: Bottle Caps, Wire, Fishing Wire, a Wire Cutter and a Glue Gun, Duct Tape Optional
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I instructed the kids to make three mobile tiers any way they wanted with bottle caps, wire and a glue gun. Each tier was a made from a piece of wire that was either 12 inches or 18 inches. The kids were able to cut the wire with a wire cutter to their desired length. The only rule was they had to demonstrate balance. We used our finger as a balance point and made sure the counter weights were stable. We talked about how to balance each side and I showed a few examples of stable tiers and unstable tiers, where one side was way heavier than the other. The kids had to complete all three tiers before assembling the mobile. I love watching kids use low temperature glue guns and they love using them! There are so many amazing things you can do with a glue gun. I wish more classrooms had glue guns on hand for discovery and exploration. They are such a great tool. After the tiers were complete, I assembled them by tying each tier to fishing wire about five inches from the next tier. I just tied a double knot around the center of each tier. Nothing complicated, but not something the kids would be able to do.
Probably the biggest key to success with this project was the sandwich technique. Basically, we would place a piece of wire in between two bottle caps (flat side to flat side) smothered with hot glue and hold for ten seconds while squeezing really hard. It’s important to apply a lot of pressure. The sandwich allowed the back of the bottle caps to stick together, rather than just the wire sticking to a bottle cap. Occasionally that worked too, but the sandwich method worked for everyone really well. The second key to success is to say YES when a student has an idea. One by one students thought of ways to balance bottle caps and create interest in their murals. This was by far the most exciting part of the mobiles, seeing how each mobile inspired ideas and questions and design thinking. It was really great. The last tip is when all else fails, let the kids use tape. We had a few students that struggled with the glue. I ended up just giving them some duct tape and their mobiles came out just as great. All the mobiles have been hanging in the 2nd grade classroom for weeks and they loos awesome! The kids are super proud of themselves and I am too!