Easter Bunny in a Hot Air Balloon Pinata

update 4/14 – I’m using this as my post Easter Unplugged Project, because it fits the theme well.

The idea for this project came to me when we found 3-packs of punching balloons at the dollar store (and stocked up, like anybody who knows how much 3yr. olds love balloons, and punching them, would do).

It was such a fun thing for us to make, that I think we’ll build it into our future Easter celebrations as well.

We made a paper mache ‘hot air’ balloon to carry the Easter Bunny into town – and the whole project doubles as an Easter Pinata, to be broken on Easter morning – after a couple of weeks of anticipation, and until then it’s a good decoration.

Supplies:

Large Balloon,

flour and water (use a pasty ratio) in a large bowl or paint pan,

torn strips of newspaper,

tempera paints,

brushes,

yarn,

a plastic container (ours was from Chinese Take-Out),

a hole punch,

and a couple of bags of smallish candies,

small stuffed bunny.

1~ Blow up the balloon, and cover your work space w/ newspaper, besmock the child (you’ve been warned).

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2~ Dip the newspaper strips (around 2″x8″ or thereabouts) in your paper mache paste, covering them.  This picture shows Bee mixing the flour and water, squishing the lumps.

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3~ Cover the balloon with paper mache.  Smooth all the paper over the balloon and cover all of the latex except for the knot at the bottom.

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4~ Let that dry.  Then do a second layer, and let that dry as well.

5~ paint a coat of white paint, then let it dry.  Setting the ball in a bowl makes this easier.

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6~ Paint the hot air balloon however you like.  The painting is all done before the balloon is removed, because water based paints can soften the paper mache.

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7~ Make sure the painted balloon is dry.  Remove the balloon by snipping it a little near the knot and letting it leak all of its air slowly.  This is lots of fun for kids to watch.  Remove deflated balloon from small hole left where the knot was.  Trimming this hole to be a little larger is fine.

8~ Put some candy into the balloon.  We filled ours about 20% or so – don’t put in too much, or you increase your chances of it being to heavy to hang safely.

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9~ This part is a little tricky to describe – give it some thought before you do it.  First, patch the hole up top w/ a little paper mache or a piece of duct tape (it will be up top, and hard to see once you hang it up – don’t worry about making it look nice).  I cut several long pieces of yarn and drew criss-crossing lines of glue on the top of the balloon and applied the yard so that the ends hung freely down the sides of the balloon.  Smother the tops with glue – this will make for a secure framework to hang the balloon from.  Thread a piece of strong string through the clustered criss crossing yarn at the very top, make this piece the length you will need to hang the balloon (preferable from a plant hook or nail on a beam near your ceiling – customize this to your setting).  Let it dry, then hang it up.

10~ use a hole punch to put hole around the top of the plastic container that match up with the support strings hanging from the bottom of the balloon, then tie it in place, trim strings, and add the bunny.

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A sturdy yard stick should be sufficient for smash time on Easter morning.  We’ll have to be sure the dogs are safely away from ground zero, so they don’t get any candy.  I like the idea of using it as a pinata, because it makes for a finite decoration, like a Christmas tree – so that even though it is something we like, it goes away when the holiday ends.

A clever variation might be to not add the bunny until Easter day, as a surprise – we just happened to already have one that was just the right size.

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