Colourful and creative, mobiles are a great way to give your home a special personal touch – especially when they’re handmade by your own children. This mobile is quick, easy and cheap to make, and looks great. It’s a fun activity for children of all ages, from very young pre-schoolers who’ll enjoy the messy play that’s involved, to older kids who will possibly want to make something in a specific colour scheme or with more creative detail. Created out of miscellaneous bits and pieces from around the home, this mobile is also very eco-friendly and can be a good way to introduce your children to the concept of recycling.
Time: 60 - 90 minutes
Age: Any Age
Acrylic paint in various colours
Craft jewels or beads
Four or five cardboard toilet rolls or paper towel rolls – we cut some of these to make them smaller and easier to use
Clothing tags in various shapes and sizes – or some thick pieces of cardboard
Other cardboard bits and pieces, if they’re available – objects we have used at various times include the cardboard frames from used rolls of masking tape, matchboxes, old wooden cotton spools and other small boxes. Don’t use items that are too large as they might destroy the balance of your mobile.
Three or four metres of string or wool
A hole punch
A large darning needle
An old metal coathanger for your mobile’s frame
Choose the items you’d like to use in your mobile and plan the basic design.
Paint the tags and toilet rolls brightly and leave them to dry. We wanted to create a mobile that’s inspired by autumn leaves, so we limited our colour palette to mainly yellows, oranges and reds. Be sure to paint both sides, and prop them up in such a way that both sides can dry properly – perhaps against an old cardboard box or some scrap wood.
When the paint dried on our mobile, we added some more patterns and colour to provide extra visual appeal. These included swirls, dots and patterns made with little finger-tips dipped in paint. Another effective way to create a pattern is to flick paint (in a contrasting colour) from an old toothbrush. Once again, leave the pieces to thoroughly dry.
When the paint has completely dried, add some final bling to your pieces, such as glitter, glitter glue, sparkly beads or craft gems. Highlights in gold acrylic paint also provide a nice effect.
When the glitter glue has completely dried, plan how you’ll assemble your mobile. Take the punch and pierce holes into each object you’ll be using. Be sure that the hole isn’t too close to the edge of them or they might tear. If you’re using shop tags from new clothing items this won’t be necessary, as they already have holes punched into them. Alternatively, use a large darning needle to create holes in the items you want to use.
Tie pieces of string to the various bits and pieces, and attach these to the coat-hanger. To create an interesting effect, vary the length of the strings and the shape of the objects, as well as the way in which they’re placed. This step should be done carefully, with plenty of adult assistance, so the strings don’t tangle.
Your mobile is now complete. To add a colourful finishing touch, you could tie a bright-coloured ribbon at the top of it.