Growing up, I remember making sequin ornaments with my grandmother. We would sit at the table for hours and chat while pinning sequins to a foam ball. A few years ago, I started this tradition in my 5th grade classroom. The kids had a blast, worked hard, and were proud of their accomplishment when they were done. They looked forward to giving their gifts to their parents.
We start our ornaments the last week of school during morning work. Then, the morning of the last day of school, I put on an audiobook and let the kids spend the morning finishing up. It takes about 2-4 hours for most students to finish one ornament. A few finish much faster! But what I really enjoy is listening to an audiobook during this time. It’s quite magical. Students focus intently on creating their pattern and pinning each sequin in place while making meaning in their minds as the story plays. If you are looking for something quiet, peaceful, and engaging for that last week of school, give sequin ornaments a try!
There are several tutorials online on how to make sequin ornaments, and lots of options to add ribbon and beads and crystals. We keep it simple in my classroom. Sequins and pins. That's it. I won't go into detail about how to make the ornaments. We'll stick with the basics, but with so many tiny sequins and pins...yikes! You've got to have a system for managing it all. Here's what has worked for me...
*Cups and Plates
*Colorful sequins (medium and large)
*Sequin pins (regular sewing pins are too long, and sequin pins are much cheaper)
*Small Styrofoam balls (Hobby Lobby carries 12 packs--I usually get the 2 1/2 inch SMOOTH Styrofoam balls)
*Ribbon (for hanging ornaments on a tree)Tips for Making the Ornaments and Managing the Project
- Have students sketch what they want their ornament to look like before beginning. There are lots of color options based on what you buy and bring into the classroom. I typically tell them to stick with 2-3 colors. You can go with blues and whites for a winter theme, buy some local college colors, school colors, etc.
- Making the ornament is actually very simple. Students place a sequin on the ball where they want it to go, then poke a pin through the hole in the sequin to hold it in place. My rule is that there can be no foam ball showing through. Also, there is no right or wrong way to place a sequin. You can have the concave side face the ball or face away from the ball, or do a little of both.
- Teach students to use the the eraser of the pencil to push pins in. Their fingers get tired and sore after awhile. This project will help students develop perseverance! I love how proud they are when they finally finish.
- Keep a magnet handy. Someone will spill pins and sequins all over the floor. Every year there are a few spills. Have students use a magnet to collect the pins before going after the sequins.
- Students should wear shoes. If you are one of those teachers who lets kids take off their shoes, avoid doing so until this project is over and the floors have been vacuumed.
- This project is geared towards 5th grade and up and costs about $2 per student.
- Give students only a pinch of pins and sequins at a time and have them come back to you for more. Counting pins and sequins is impossible, so I keep the supplies near me and refill cups as needed.
- When students finish, they use a magnet to collect pins and bring them back to me. Then, I have them sort their sequins and place them back with the correct colors.
***Also, to help manage the project I use 2 clear plastic cups per child, some masking tape, and a paper plate. I've re-used the cups and plates for years since all they do is hold supplies while students work for a few days. I write names on the cups with permanent markers and scribble them out for next year's kids.
When working with pins, safety comes first and each student has his/her own cup to hold the pins and sequins. Sequin pins aren't especially sharp, but we are still very cautious. We discuss being careful and reporting injuries before we begin, and students are not allowed to share supplies. I also model carefully reaching into the cup to pick up pins instead of shoving your hand in and getting poked. I've never had a problem!
1--Top view of cup showing pins and sequins.
2--Each child has two cups. The supply cup and the ornament cup.
3--Because this is an ongoing project, when not in use, cups can be stacked so that the sequins and pins are contained in case a cup is knocked over. I use masking or painters tape to hold the cups together because it stays sticky as the students open and close it each day.
4--Here's a cup turned upside down. A few sequins came out, but the rest stays in.
5--Students like to dump a few pins and sequins onto a paper plate for easy access while working.
That's all for now. Happy holidays and happy crafting!
--The Pensive Sloth