(I originally wrote this post last year and have edited it with updated photos and content. Why reinvent the wheel, right?)
It has become tradition here to have a Winter Pajama Fiesta in mid-December to usher in the winter holidays. We all wear our cozy pajamas, our families bring the fixings for nachos and our Chameleon & Grasshopper classes make the piñata. We have filled said piñata with various things like stickers, pompoms, glitter! (boy did the parents love us!) and last year we hit upon bird seed! This year we again filled it with bird seed/squirrel food so that our wild neighbors would have a nice holiday feast. The kids were so excited to make something for the creatures they love to watch (and the parents were overjoyed that it wasn’t glitter)!
So why don’t we purchase a traditional piñata and fill it with candy? Because that’s not what it’s about. Making our own is about the process and what we learn and experience from the process, not the product. Filling the balloon with air, making the flour and water paste, ripping the newsprint into strips, dipping the strips into the paste, smoothing the paper onto the balloon and adding just enough layers to make it sturdy but not too many so that it will never dry (quite a feat in Louisiana!), painting it, filling it then getting to hit it hard enough to break teaches so much more than just showing up to whack the heck out of some random character hung up by a rope. Ours is not beautiful by adult standards but it is for the child and that is all that matters. The following is a list of just a few things that the Chameleons & Grasshoppers experienced while making the piñata that no lecture, demonstration, or series of worksheets could ever teach: collaboration, compromise, cause and effect, order, angle, trajectory, force, physical properties of glue, coordinating fine and large motor activity, eye-hand coordination, measuring, estimating, spacial relationships and language development. An incomplete list to be sure but impressive none-the-less making that big red blob even more beautiful in our eyes.