I am teaching a ton of after school art classes these days and lately we’ve been focusing on wood. Did you know that balsa wood comes from balsa trees in Guatemala and other South American countries? I’ve been wanting to work with balsa wood forever and so glad I got the chance this past week. It’s easy to manipulate, cut, puncture and play with. There are so many easy art projects for kids you can do with balsa wood. Since it’s finally a bit windy here in Los Angeles, so we made balsa wood wind chimes and the kids loved them. Here’s how we did it.
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I prepped the balsa wood prior to class by puncturing it with this handy little puncher. This thing is super cool by the way. It makes perfect little holes in all kinds of materials. Older kids can use it but for 3-5 year olds, I recommend you do this part for them. Balsa wood can be found at your local craft store or purchased online here.
I set out some beautiful liquid watercolors in baby jars and instructed the kids to drop different colors on the balsa wood with the droppers. Then they used a paint brush to move the color around. Kids love working with liquid droppers. They are an important tool we use often. Each child did about 7-10 pieces of balsa wood front and back.
I also encouraged the kids to paint about the same amount of wood beads in the same way, so they could separate the balsa wood on their wind chimes. These are my absolute favorite beads. We use them all the time, like here and here, and I just love them.
Once we all had our beads and balsa wood painted, we strung them onto lanyard. The first time I did this project I used chord that frayed, making it difficult to string on the beads. Lanyard was perfect. It comes in all different beautiful colors. We stuck to white to make the beads and balsa wood stand out.
The last step is to wrap the lanyard to a stick (You can go on a nature hunt for this part!) I wrapped the wood around the stick and then wrapped a piece of wire around that to hold it in place. I did this part for the kids. Older kids can do this easily though. Then they picked the color cord they wanted to hang up the wind chime and I tied it to each side of the stick.
Every child was successful and everyone really enjoyed this process based art project. Oh, I almost forgot. We tied a little bell to the very bottom of the lanyard to make it jingle. The kids loved that touch. Have fun and happy fall!
Love this project, Meri! Thank you for always giving such an in-depth review on your projects. So very, very awesome! I was curious how much time you schedule for your after school art projects? Kids seem to all work at their own pace and when working with a group, I find it challenging to keep the kids that finish quickly, entertained. As to give the others adequate time to explore and finish. Maybe this is just the nature of art classes with kids? Your insight would be greatly appreciated!
Hi Dottie, I love your name. This definitely can get tricky. It’s a great question. I work with the early finishers to keep going but if they are for sure done, I always have a second something on hard for when they are done. Maybe play dough, or a drawing book, or something simple and independent. Hope that helps!
These look great, but how to they make sounds? Do the wood sticks knock against each other? Other than the bell, I don’t see how these will chime.
Looks wonderful, I am curious…. it’s a chime? Does it make noise in the wind?