Thursday, November 8, 2012

Just for fun: Sculpting with Biodegradable Packing Peanuts

What is your experience with biodegradable packing peanuts? (They are also called cornstarch pellets.) They are an alternative to styrofoam packing material that appear to be the same thing but really are not. They are made out of cornstarch and they dissolve completely in water. Here is a video I found on youtube of some in a glass of water...

Silly (personal) backstory about these packing peanuts: 
I was first introduced to cornstarch pellets over 15 years ago when I was in high school doing yearbook. Some of our materials were shipped to us with them and going "green" was just starting to be a thing to do. I heard about them originally in science class and I was fascinated with the idea of them (I love things that are inventive and of out-of-the-box problem solving) so I was excited to finally see them in person. My science teacher had told me that you could eat them so I told my yearbook staffers (I was the editor-in-chief) that and I actually convinced everyone to eat one. After we had our fun laughing at one another and also being surprised by the fact that they were indeed edible, one of the staffers actually kept eating them! 

Yeah. *shrug* To each their own. 

Anyway, because I strongly dislike shopping in real time and at real places I do more online shopping than anything. Recently an early Christmas gift was delivered to me with the amazing-ness that IS cornstarch packing peanuts! I recalled my weird high school memories about them along with randomness I have read(and mentally bookmarked - as I do with everything) about using them for kiddie crafting and art.

The way it works is this: Put out a clean wet sponge, paper towel, or rag and then simply wet the end of one of the packing peanuts and then stick it to another one.

That's it! SERIOUSLY!!!

Here is my 4 yo daughter in action making a crown for herself...

You definitely have to be careful to not accidentally give your kid a glass/cup of water and just use a wet sponge or paper towel because if you don't you can bet they will just sit there and drop the pellets into the water and watch them all dissolve completely. So long as you don't do that though and your kids pay attention long enough to make something, you can even let them color what they made with markers!

I mean, I suppose you could try painting them but I wouldn't if I were use. I mean, you DO remember the video of how they interact with liquid, right?

The other night, my daughter pulled out the packing pieces and asked me to join her with sculpting and crafting. I had just put her flannel bedding on for her so I had elephants on the brain and so I ended up mindlessly making a baby elephant for my daughter. She was thrilled with the finished product:

If you interested in doing this sort of thing at home and want to order packing pieces you can either from a shipping company like Uline. You, of course, have to buy in bulk but if you are doing this for a project for preschool or other early childhood activity setting, that could work out. Also, here are some other blogs who have also adventured into the arena of sculpting with the packing pieces:

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