Paper plates are a versatile item for a variety of kids' craft projects; they even work well for creating your own merry-go-round. The paper plates can serve as both the bottom and the top of the merry-go-round or you can substitute with other paper products, such as bowls and cups, to make your merry-go-round distinctive.
Zoo Animal Merry-Go-Round
For the youngest crafter, make a simple zoo animal merry-go-round with paper plates and drinking straws. Put two paper plates together -- with the eating surfaces facing each other -- and punch four holes, evenly spaced, around the inside edge of the joined plates. Cut drinking straws into four 7-inch pieces. Cut both ends of all the straw pieces to create flaps that you can glue down, then insert the straws into the holes and fold out the flaps. Push the plates in opposite directions, almost to the ends of the straws, just before they reach the flaps. Glue the flaps to the outside of each plate and let them dry. Glue zoo animal cut-outs to the outside edges of the bottom plate and decorate your merry-go-round with glitter, ribbons, crayons and paint.
Have children paint one paper towel roll, a paper bowl, a paper cup and a paper plate with colorful paint. Encourage them to use stripes, circles, dots and lines to make their pieces as interesting as possible. Add glitter, sequins and other decorations. When the pieces are dry, instruct each child to turn his bowl upside down and punch four equally-spaced holes around the edge. The kids can then cut decorative edges into their paper plates to make an interesting platform for their merry-go-rounds and cut a hole in the center of each plate that's large enough for the paper towel roll to fit through yet stay snug. Next, have them cut some slits in the top of their paper towel rolls and fold them down into flaps. Glue the flaps to the inside of the bowl and slide the paper plate up onto the paper towel roll. Insert four 7-inch wooden dowel rods into the holes in the edges of the bowl. Continue sliding the paper plate up the towel roll until it touches the dowel rods. Secure the dowel rods to the paper plate with a drop of glue. Invert the paper cup and cup out the top. Insert the paper towel roll into the paper cup to create a stand for the merry-go-round. Secure the cup to the towel holder with a bead of glue around the top edge.
Cut out four horses from construction paper; use any color you like and decorate them with saddles, glitter, sequins and paint. While the horse decorations dry, divide a paper plate into eight pie-shaped sections and paint each section a different color. While the plate dries, glue each horse to a craft stick. Glue an additional craft stick to each stick already glued to a horse to make them longer; let them dry. Decorate a paper towel roll by taping colorful wrapping paper around it. Tape the paper towel roll to the eating surface of the paper plate. Use an ice cream tub lid to create the base of the merry-go-round by turning it over and decorating the inside of the lid with colorful paper. Assemble the merry-go-round by taping the horses on sticks to the inside edge of the ice cream lid. Insert the paper plate connected to the paper towel holder between the horses and secure them with tape. Place a piece of sticky tack between the ice cream sticks and the underside of the paper plate to secure the sticks to the top of the merry-go-round.
Up and Down Merry-Go-Round
This paper plate merry-go-round has the look of a carousel with animals going up and down. Begin by cutting out zoo animals and horses from magazines or by tracing animal shapes onto construction paper. To make animals cut from magazines, glue the pictures onto construction paper or lightweight cardboard and let them dry. Decorate the animals with glitter, sequins, paint and colored pencils and let them dry. Lay out eight drinking straws and position the animals at different heights on the straws. Tape the straws to the back side of the animals. Cut both ends of the straws in 1-inch slits to make flaps that you'll glue to the plates. Set these aside. Decorate two paper plates with paint, glitter, sequins and other colorful craft materials. While the plates are drying, cover a paper towel roll with brightly colored paper or wrapping paper and secure it with tape. Cut 1-inch slits in both ends of the paper towel roll for flaps. Bend the slits out and glue them into place on one of the paper plates. Make sure to turn the plate so that the edges face up, since this is the bottom of the carousel. Position the animals on the drinking straws around the bottom of the carousel and glue the strips on the bottom of the straws into place. Spread out the gluing strips on the other end of the straws and place a dot of glue on each one. Position the top paper plate onto the drinking straws to form the top of the carousel, making sure to position the plate upside down. Once the carousel is dry, you can spin it so that the animals look like they're going up and down as they pass by at different heights.
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