Tuesday, October 14, 2008

HOW TO: Make a Caterpillar Model

I've mentioned before that I don't do nearly enough crafting with my kids. I should, but ... you know ... my crafting time is kinda my time. So I was excited to have an actual project that forced my daughter and I to work together on a "craft" of sorts.

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter (in the second grade) came home with a big project assignment: Create a model of a caterpillar from any kind of non-food, non-toy object and present it to the class. We went out for lunch one day and looked over the assignment sheet and came up with some ideas for what we could use to make each part of the caterpillar. She had some great ideas, and from there, we hit the craft store. We walked up and down every single aisle (FUN!) and had lots of discussions about what materials could be translated into things like simple eyes and spiracles.

My biggest laugh came when I asked her if she wanted to use Model Magic for the body segments instead of the Styrofoam balls she'd picked out already. She got very serious and used her hands to explain, "Well, no, because ... you know... I just think the Styrofoam is more ... you know ... exciting."

So with exciting Styrofoam balls and other supplies in hand, we set out to construct an awesome caterpillar. As we started working, she was the one who suggested we take pictures as we went so we could do a little "step by step" thing. HA! She's been reading my craft blogs, I think .....

And then, as we worked, she said something that made my heart glow. I don't have many "good mom" moments. I mean, I'm not a bad mom, but I don't feel like the kick butt mom I could/should be. And then she said:

"Without the help of my crafty mama, I couldn't have finished in time!"

Ahhh! A small success!

So here is her step by step tutorial on making an awesome caterpillar model:

Step 1 - gather your supplies

we used the following (didn't decide to do pics until after we started working)
- small styrofoam balls
- lots of toothpicks
- acrylic craft paint in a few shades of green
- metallic pipe cleaners
- flat top straight pins
- large white sequins
- smaller black sequins
- round top sewing pins
- styrofoam board on which to mount your caterpillar

Step 2 - paint your body segments

We needed to do 13 body segments and a head. We mixed three shades of green paint and sponged them on to the styrofoam balls. We used toothpicks to stand the styrofoam balls so they could dry easily.

Step 3 - connect your body segments

We connected the segments with toothpicks - a few in each segment - and smooshed them together

Step 4 - add your bristles

My daughter cut the pipe cleaners with heavy duty scissors and stuck them down in the top of the body segments.

Step 5 - add your spiracles

We took straight pins and put a small black sequin and then a larger white one, and stuck the pin into the side of each body segment.

Step 6 - add your simple eyes

We used round top sewing pins for these. My daughter added them to the bottom part of the face.

Step 7 - add your legs

I had some high hopes for fancy legs, but at this point, we were running out of time. We just ended up using colored toothpicks for the legs.

Step 8 - attach your caterpillar to the board

We had three small rectangles of styrofoam from packaging, so I taped them together and then we stuck the toothpick legs down into them so the caterpillar would stand up.

Behold, the most awesome, exciting Styrofoam caterpillar ever known!


  1. That is one awesome caterpillar! AK must be very proud!


  2. Wow. That's a pretty amazing caterpillar. Looks like craftiness runs in the genes!

  3. Love the caterpillar!
    I've added you to my list to receive a copy of an award that I just received. Please come by my blog and grab a copy of the award waiting for you!

  4. As my teacher friends and I say, "Apple" ~~ she's just like you. I love it! and I'm with AK, styrofoam is cooler. Not a fan of model magic. It breaks. Loved this post!

  5. Way to go you Crafty Mama!!! Those are the things she'll remember and maybe even put in her memoir: "Growing up with a Crafty Mama"

    Way to go sister mama!

  6. That is so freaking cute! I wanna come play at your house! I'll be linking to this in my kid's roundup.

  7. WHAT a fun idea!! I love it. NOW as room mom for halloween I need to come up with something fun for 5th graders..

  8. Wow that is a cool caterpillar! We just finished (sort of finished anyway) studying caterpillars and butterflies - should have made a model along the way! I do have lots of drawings though.


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