The unplugged challenge this week was "Dark/Light" in honor of the Solstice on Sunday. (It will officially be Winter in the Northern Hemisphere at 7:04 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Sunday December 21st.)
For our project this week, we made tin lanterns because they work well with our study of Colonial America, as well as bringing light to the darkest time of the year.
We started by taking the labels off of empty food cans, cleaning them out (be very careful of sharp edges left from opening the cans. To prevent this problem, I only used "pop-top" cans and used a bottle brush to clean them),filled each can with water, and set them in the freezer (the ice will help the cans maintain their shape, as they are being hammered). When they were fully frozen, we took them outside, along with a hammer, two sizes of nails, and a flat screwdriver.
The space between the boards on the old picnic table worked well to keep the can from rolling, but if you don't have a spot like that, one person may have to hold the can, while another person hammers.
We then hammered the nails into the can, just enough to make a hole.
We made designs using the round dots left by the nails and little lines made by hammering the screwdriver into the can. The more holes,the prettier the lantern will look when it's lit.
We've had very warm weather, so Blaze enjoyed playing with the ice. I think he would have been perfectly happy if I had just given him a block of ice to attack with the screwdriver. As it was, there was a spray of flying ice as we hammered the nails into the cans and he thought that was cool.
When we finished our designs on the cans, we left them outside so the ice would melt and drain out through the holes.
Last night was very warm, so we strung up our lanterns and had a late night picnic.
Blaze dropped a votive candle into each can (don't put your hands inside the cans, all those holes are sharp inside)and I lit them using a long lighter.
It was so nice, after a hectic day of packing and trying to get ready for our vacation, to sit down together for a relaxed, candle lit dinner. We placed two paper bag luminaries on the table for extra light and had store bought fried chicken (because I hadn't had time to cook) and stollen for dinner. Despite the city lights, the stars of Orion were very visible and Blaze made a wish on the first star he saw. Then he wanted to know how you could tell the stars from the planets.