Making Love Bugs: Fun for Valentine’s Day and all year round
Love bugs are a craft I’ve used with kids at the Valley YMCA day camp and at a YMCA school-age care site, and they loved it. It’s a tried and true craft that kids enjoy making either with a Valentine’s Day theme, or for any time of the year. A wooden clothespin is used as the body of an insect, and pieces of paper are put in a plastic bag to make colorful wings. The kids can then write on a small slip of paper, roll it up, and place it in the love bug’s mouth as a secret message to a friend or relative.
A word of caution, though: a lot of grimaces and groans spring from the boys at the term “love bug.” Perhaps you can think up a more suitably cool name—something to the
effect of “secret message mosquitoes.” Anyway, once they try it, I’ve seen both boys and girls have a great time making these.
Here’s how to make one:
1. Construction paper in several different colors to be cut up into small pieces (so a few sheets of paper go a long way). Can also use tissue paper.
2. Wooden clothespin with a hinge (1 per child)
3. Markers, or paint and brushes to decorate clothespin
4. Pipecleaner (a roughly 6-inch piece per child) for antennae
5. Clear plastic folding sandwich bags (1 per child) for wings
6. Scotch tape
a. mini plastic “googly eyes”
b. large pony beads that will fit on pipecleaner
c. magnet strips
d. felt to glue onto clothespin body
e. small pompoms (to glue onto the clothespin if desired)
Step 1: Cut paper
Cut up the construction paper or tissue paper into small squares with sides about a ¼ inch long. Keep each color in a separate bowl or pile. About two handfuls of cut pieces are needed for each child. If the pieces aren’t exactly this size or perfectly square, it’s not critical, so don’t let it bug you. You can also cut some small heart shapes as well (the size of a penny or smaller).
Step 2: Fill the wings
Give each child a clear plastic sandwich bag and let him/her put the cut paper pieces and/or paper hearts in it. (Do not let them fill it extremely full because the middle of the bag has to fit in the mouth of the clothespin.)
Step 3: Close bag
Fold the flap of the plastic bag over to close it. Tape the flap down so no paper will fall out.
Step 4 : Decorate
Use markers or paint to decorate the clothespin (insect’s body). Let paint dry. Glue on tiny plastic googly eyes if desired. Can also glue on pompoms to make fuzzy insect body.
Step 5: Twist bag to form wings
Turn the bag so that the taped side is away from you and the opening of the bag is facing up. Make sure the paper pieces are distributed pretty evenly on the left and right sides of the bag. Pinch the top middle and bottom middle portions of the bag together, so that the bag is in a bow-tie shape. Keep pinching with one hand as you twist one half of the bow around and hold it there. Clamp the clothespin over the bag’s twisted middle and push the bag back as far as it will go toward the hinge.
Step 6: Antennae
Bend the pipecleaner in half. Clamp clothespin on the pipecleaner’s middle point and push pipecleaner as far back as it can go. You can twist pipecleaner ends together on top of the shut clothespin, curl them around a pencil, put pony beads on them, or whatever else you desire.
Step 7: Write secret note
Cut piece of construction paper about 3×4 inches (1 per child), or in a heart shape. Write a secret message on it for someone. Roll it up tightly and place it in the love bug’s mouth. Now it’s all ready for delivery to your special someone!
*Optional Step: Another idea is to glue a magnet to the back of the clothespin and put the love bug on your fridge to hold pictures or reminders in its mouth.
Thanks goes to one of my coworkers for generating the main idea for this craft.