What we’re making today: Bubble Bugs!

Today, with my little client, we’ll be making bubble bugs!

A few years ago when I first started making my little robots, I bought a gross of acorn capsules to package them in.  I still get excited about internet discoveries, and finding that regular people could purchase the plastic “prize bubbles” I so coveted from childhood made my month.  Years later, I’m still finding uses for them.

What you’ll need:

  • plastic bubbles (25 cents at most grocery stores)
  • bendy straws
  • googly eyes
  • tissue paper
  • glitter
  • Sharpie pens
  • hot glue

[NOTE] These are not for kids under 4 years, and they are more for display than play.  The hold between the hot glue and the plastic is not incredibly strong.  You can reinforce it by abrading the surfaces with a file or sandpaper before you glue.

What kind of “bug” do you want to make?  You can explain to the child (if you’re working with a kid, that is) that an insect, or bug, has six legs, while a spider would have eight.  That way you can get into a discussion about the differences in those little creatures.  But your “bug” doesn’t have to be like anything on earth!  Make it clear to him or her that this bug can be whatever is in their imagination.

Decide on a number of legs and cut similar lengths from the straws’ non-bendy portion.  Is it a tall bug, or a short bug?  Reserve the bendy parts for the eye-stalks.

Separate the bottom of the prize bubble and lay it concave-side down.  You’ll attach the legs to the underside.  Use a generous bead of glue for each leg, and let the glue sit just a few seconds before sticking the straw piece in.  It will take 20 seconds or more for the glue to dry, so you can use this as counting practice!  If possible, each leg should be a the same angle for stability.  But with 4+ legs, you don’t need to worry too much.   Once all legs are set enough to stand up without assistance, put the bottom aside to dry completely.

What will the head part look like?  I used crumpled tissue paper in one, and glitter and pens on the other.  Go crazy with this part, because no matter what, the bubble looks great.  For the glitter, squeeze a generous blog inside the up-turned bubble and use your finger to cover the entire inside surface.   Sprinkle with glitter.

If you want to use permanent markers to make designs on the plastic, I’d suggest you do this before stuffing or glittering (or it’ll fall out!)  Doing one thing on the outside and one on the inside creates a neat look.

Once you are finished with your decorations, the legs should be good and set.  You may need to help them pop the bubble onto the base.  Be careful not to snap the legs.

Cut eye-stalks out of the straws using the bendy portion (or not!).  Put a bead of glue onto the “top” of the stalk and press a googly eye on.  Put another bead of glue on the top of the bubble where you want the stalk to go, and hold in place.  More counting.  If 20 seconds isn’t enough, make guesses with the child how many seconds you should keep holding it.

Once the eyes and legs have set, you’re all done!  Unless of course, you’re not.  Use paper or scraps of felt to create hair, hats, eyebrows, mustaches, collars, whatever!  And don’t forget to name them and figure out where they are from.  Ours were from a planet that is bigger than any planet we’ve ever seen, a whole 90 miles away!

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