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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

make a recycled bag ball

Recently, when I was in New York City, I went to the Museum of Modern Art to see The Century of the Child exhibition. It was an amazing investigation of the last 100 years and the many ways childhood has been expressed through design, education, and philosophy. I left with a hefty exhibition catalogue and a long list of things to research further. 

One very simple idea, that I nearly missed at the end of the show was how kids themselves become designers, especially in impoverished countries. There were several examples of playthings that kids had made from the refuse they found in their environment. A short video of a child making a ball from plastic bags caught my attention and the fact that a ball had been brought back and displayed in the museum both broke my heart and made me marvel at the resiliency and ingenuity of kids. 

I told my kids about all of this and we decided to make our own bag ball. I will be honest, they were more excited about the project than considering the poverty of other children. They love working with recyclables so saw nothing too sad about other kids making balls from trash. 

It is the same activity, but obviously a different perspective. 

The whole time they were making it, they were happy and excited, making their own design changes. It made me think that this would be an excellent class or club project. "This is awesome!" I heard several times as it was being made and then was taken into the back yard for some free form soccer. 

How we did it.
Well, if you have read this blog for very long, you know I am not big on step by step tutorials. That kinda takes half the fun out of any creating, if you ask me. There are many methods of making a ball. You can use cloth, corn husks, string bits and of course bags. 

We wadded up a few sections of the newspaper to make a soft core and then wrapped the ball in a few dozen plastic grocery bags. We used duct tape every now and then to help shape the ball and at the end, the boys covered the whole thing in tape, thinking it would keep the ball waterproof. We also put a citrus bag over the last layer thinking it looked cool and might give it more gripping power. 

That is it.
I loved this project so much.

Have you made these? Do you think you might?


  1. Fabulous! I adore this. So wonderful to use recyclables and also have the fun of making things.

    You rock!

    1. PS Thanks for sharing on Kids Get Crafty!


  2. I LOVE this. And the video is so humbling. We often feel sorry for kids in underprivileged countries - and they are innovative and healthy from playing outside. They appreciate the small things in life. They have friends and a community. Of course, we don't want them to be hungry so many churches are helping them learn to help themselves - by growing food and learning skills. But let's not take away their creative skills. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Amazing post, thanks for sharing this.

  4. I made a much smaller version on this ball when I was teaching Kindergartners to throw. I used about 4 regular sized Target bags, balled them up and wrapped them with duct tape. As my PE program had $0 budget, this was the best way I could think of to get every child in my class to have their own ball. I've been using those same balls for years, now. I let older kids play a version of tag/dodgeball with them. It doesn't hurt to get hit by them (except in the face), so they have fun actually throwing balls AT eachother for a change.

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  6. We made a similar ball that you can recycle out of newspaper and washi tape. My two toddler daughters loved playing with it. It's soft like a Nerf ball and they could easily grab it, yet solid enough to kick and roll. Lots of fun!

    I'm so jealous that you got to see Century of the Child at MOMA. All the pictures that have been coming out on the web are such an inspiration! Thanks for the post!

    1. That show was seriously amazing! It made my trip.


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