Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Homemade Pinata: Easy, Fun and Frugal

Both boys have a birthday coming up soon, and they want a pinata at their party. I thought it might be fun to make one. I found a great little how-to video on About.com.

It was surprisingly easy to make our pinata. Watch the video to learn how to make one for yourself.  There are so many reasons to love this project.
  • It cost practically nothing. Seriously. The only expenses would be for the balloon, crepe paper, and flour. I had all this on hand anyway. A pinata at the store cost around $10.
  • Appropriate level of difficulty. I was surprised at how much Big Brother (almost 5) was able to successfully contribute to this craft. Little Brother (almost 3) wasn't interested. Oh well.
  • Small bursts of activity over several days. Although the entire project took several days to complete, the actual time spent working came in spurts of about 20 minutes, which was perfect for my son's attention span. Plus, the anticipation surrounding each new phase of the project was loads of fun!
  • Fine Motor. Lots of ripping (which didn't come as easily as I expected), stirring, and other fun fine motor work.
  • Tactile Sensory Input. The act of putting the newspaper in the flour/water mixture was awesome ooey-gooey fun!
  • Practice with step-by-step directions. Big Brother watched the how-to video dozens and dozens of times. He was so interested in absorbing every detail of the process. When we were executing the craft, it was clear that he had absorbed the process, and a few new vocabulary words as well!

    I think this focus on step-by-step processes is beneficial for so many reasons:
    • Motor Planning. People with sensory issues often have difficulty planning out a course of action, even for simple tasks. Big Brother struggles with this sometimes.
    • Reading Comprehension. To comprehend the whole, one must analyze the parts and how they relate to one another. 
    • Metacognition. Another important element of comprehension is recognizing when you don't understand something, and revisiting it again and again until you do. When I saw Big Brother watching the video again and again, I knew he was filling in the gaps of understanding for himself. I was so pleased!
    • Writing Composition. Although we are certainly in the early stages of this subject area, understanding step-by-step processes is a fundamental aspect of learning to write.
    • When Is It Okay to Not Follow the Process? Big Brother was a little rigid about following the instructions exactly. For example, he felt we must use pink and green crepe paper just like the woman did in the video. Luckily, he was able to let these expectations go after some discussion. It was good practice for him. Being overly rigid can be a big issue for him at times. 

So....making the pinata was a big hit for us.
Let's hope it's also a big hit at the party!

Turns out ripping paper is a learned skill.

Big Brother did a great job on this phase.
Checking to see if the pinata had dried overnight.

Grandad popped the balloon. Lots of room inside.
Putting the crepe paper on exactly like the video.

Yunny Earth organic lollipops, in bulk from Amazon.


  1. Very cute! Great idea to let Big Brother watch the how-to video himself to get a good understanding of the process. We recently did paper mache in our homeschool and all three of my boys enjoyed it.

  2. Thanks, Tricia. I don't think I've ever done paper mache before (that I can remember). Big Brother and I had so much fun!! My mind was racing about lots of other ideas. Next time I'd like to make a shape other than a balloon.

  3. Oh my goodness! I love it!!! We're celebrating my boys' birthdays at the end of the month. I'll check with my dad whether he wants it indoors or out, but this is a great idea!!! I think I'll do a Mickey Mouse shape since the theme is MM Clubhouse. And I have lots of streamers I was just wondering what I should do with, lol =)

  4. LOVE THIS. I always wanted to make a pinata and my art skills are questionable, but I can do this.
    The kids have done paper mache before, we made maracas, they still play with them

  5. Grace - how neat - this is "birthday season" for you as well. Glad to know others do joint birthday parties as well. The same thing happened to me - I have a box full of streamers. For this year's party, I'm striving to use up my current supply of materials rather than buy new things.

    Susan - yes, my art skills are questionable as well. If I can do it, I'm sure you can as well. Now that I know how easy and fun paper mache is, I have lots of ideas. Maybe even a paper mache volcano??? Maracas sound fun!!

  6. Love this! I was just talking about pinatas with my 5-year-old son today. We'll have to try this soon!