We have two turtles in a small pond in our backyard. The Sugar Snaps enjoy feeding them each day along with the fish. Sometimes, I think it makes sense to do a craft that revolves around what they are interested in at the moment. One day we were eating pistachio nuts, which turned out to be great fine motor practice for them to open up the shells. I looked at the shells in front of them and thought that we could recycle them to use in a craft. So, I saved them. They would be perfect for a turtle craft if they were green. Those of you who have been following Capri + 3 for a while know I love doing painting in a bag crafts with the Sugar Snaps. I decided to see if this technique would work for the shells. I gave each of them different concentrations of vinegar and water along with food coloring to see what worked best. All methods worked to a point, but I thought the 50/50 concentration worked the best.
Recycled Egg Carton Pistachio Nut Shell Turtle:
You will need:
- One section of a recycled egg carton
- A handful of pistachio nut shells
- Green food coloring
- White vinegar
- Zip lock bag
- Metal strainer
- Cookie sheet
- Oven (if desired)
- One green pipe cleaner
- One green pom pom
- One pair of google eyes
- White glue
- Scotch tape
- Scissors (to cut egg carton into sections)
- One disposable glove-if desired
This is a craft that is broken into two sections, so it is two craft activities in one which makes it more fun. The first part of the craft is dying the nut shells. Use a 50/50 concentration of vinegar and water and pour it into a zip lock bag along with several drops of green food coloring. Estimate the amount you will need based on how many children will be doing the craft. Add the nut shells and zip the bag shut. You can do one bag per child or have them take turns with the bag. They can move the nut shells around in the bag until the desired color is achieved. If the color seems too light after they are done, you can let the shells sit for a while in the bag. Then, pour the shells out into a metal strainer and drain the shells into the sink. I learned the hard way that, if you don’t wear a disposable glove, handling the dyed nuts before they are dry can make your fingernails (and under your nails) turn green. To avoid this, pour the nuts from the strainer directly onto the foil lined cookie sheet. You can either put on a glove and spread them out on the sheet (flipping them over hollow side down) or you can use a metal utensil to help with the process. Then, to expedite drying, I turned the oven on to 200 degrees and baked them for a half an hour. They were ready to handle pretty quickly after they came out of the oven.
If you are doing both parts of the craft on the same day, wait until the shells are cool enough to handle and distribute one handful per child. When you cut the egg carton, make sure to leave some around the edge to glue on the head. Cut (or have your older child cut) the pipe cleaner to make the legs and tail. Tape them underneath as shown below. You can also see from this picture that I left room for them to glue on the head when I cut the egg carton.
Next, flip the turtle back over and have your children glue shells onto the top and sides of the turtle’s shell. Some will fall off and need to be repositioned. The Sugar Snaps did not mind at all when that happened. I put the glue on for them and they positioned the shells. I was surprised that they knew to flip the shells so that the hollow side was down before they placed them. After the turtle is covered in the nut shells, have your child glue on the head and google eyes. Then, allow to dry. Have you been doing crafts lately using recycled materials? What crafts have your families or students enjoyed?