Archives for the month of: June, 2011

One of the stories I have written is about a little mouse called Willow whose teacher gives the class a challenge on Earth Day. All the students must carry around a plastic bag for one day, putting in all the rubbish they would normally throw away. Willow has a big breakfast, finishing off a box of cornflakes with a sliced banana and a pot of yoghurt. She puts the big empty box, banana peel and empty yoghurt pot into her bag and sets off for school.

In the playground she proudly shows her friends how much rubbish she has collected already! Over the course of the day, she adds an apple core and juice box from her mid-morning snack, half a bread roll from lunch and some paint-splashed paper towels from art class. The teacher tells the children that their next challenge will be to find ways to reduce the amount of rubbish they create, and to think of a clever way to recycle what they can.

Willow is excited by the recycling project and dumps all her rubbish on the kitchen table to sort through it. Her mum helps, and they separate the apple core and banana peel for compost, the bread roll to feed the birds, and the big box, paper towels and yoghurt pot for recycling. Willow decides to make a fabulous costume, with a Hawaiian skirt (plastic bags and colourful paper towels strung on a belt), a yoghurt pot hat and a cereal box handbag!

In our house we always have stacks of cereal boxes, so I made a handbag just like Willow’s which you can see here. I cut a large square out of the top half of the box at the front, leaving about an inch around the edge to make a handle. On the back I cut the same square, but only on three sides, so I could fold the square over to close the handbag.

Next I cut the sides off the top half of the box and folded in the bottom half on each side so the two handles would meet and the folded over bit would fit nicely. Finally I cut a little curved line in the front of the box to make a flap to slide the front cover into and hold it in place.

Here is a diagram of the whole process. The finished bag looks very stylish! Since cereal boxes come in lots of colours, you can make a different bag for every outfit. Have fun!

One of the things my husband brought home from China was a beautiful red kite! It’s shaped like an octopus with eight long ribbons for tentacles. We tried it out on the weekend, and it flew very well thanks to its clever design which captures the wind in pockets all along the top.

The earliest kites were flown in China about 2,800 years ago. They were made of silk fabric stretched over a bamboo frame, and silk thread, which is strong and flexible, was used to fly them. Today it is still traditional in China to fly kites at the beginning of spring.

Kites need long tails to balance them, and they have to be extra light in order to fly high in the wind. My daughter had lots of fun trying to get our octopus kite up in the air. The wind was gusty so sometimes she had to run fast to keep it up! (She was also wearing leather gloves because the string can burn your hands if it gets pulled through them quickly.)

You also have to be very careful where you fly a kite. Make sure there are no overhead wires nearby as they are very dangerous. Tall trees are also a problem because your kite can get stuck!

It’s quite a skill to fly a kite, and there are thousands of people all over the world who take it very seriously. Every April an International Kite Festival takes place in Weifang City, Shandong Province in China. People come from all over the world to fly the most beautiful kites shaped like butterflies, birds, octopuses and all sorts of other things. Weifang also has the largest kite museum in the world and the city is known as the International Kite Capital.

Kite flying is just as popular in Japan, India, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia. There are many other kite festivals in these countries too. Have you ever tried to fly a kite? It’s so exciting when you get it up really high and the wind holds it steady. They are always brightly coloured so they look beautiful, too! Why not try and fly a kite today?