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Fun with Festive Cotton Swab Garland

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Art with Anything

This holiday art activity is a great project for a child to do alone or for the entire family/childcare group to do together! The children will create their own bright and fun garland decoration to drape over a window or mantel, hang on a Christmas tree, or drape around an entire clasroom! Like all the activities featured in MaryAnn's Khol's book, Art with Anything: 52 Weeks of Fun Using Everyday Stuff, this activity stresses the "process of art" rather than the end product. Allow the children to use different paint colors or yarn colors, or use more than two cotton swabs—it's about letting them experiment and explore with materials to create a festive garland that is unique to their own imagination! Children will often come up with a variety of creative names for the cotton swab design, including “stars,” “snowflakes,” and “crosses.” One creative thinker even called them “fireworks"! What names can your kids come up with? Get the book for process art ideas for every day of the year! 


What To Do

  1. First dip cotton swab ends into paint or food coloring to color the white tips. Be prepared to use a lot of cotton swabs! (Kids can also stain the sticks with color if made from paper; the plastic sticks won’t accept color well.) Consider leaving some swabs white for contrast. Dry swabs on newspaper.
  2. While swabs are drying, cut yarn into 6”-12” lengths. Use one color or many colors.
  3. To create “stars”, cross two colored swabs like an X. Tie the center where they cross with a strand of yarn. Having plenty of extra yarn hanging from each star is good for joining them later. Repeat this process, making as many swab stars as you wish.
  4. To make the garland of stars, tie one to the next with the yarn strands until you have a continuous garland of colorful swabstars!

This post was contributed by MaryAnn F. Kohl. MaryAnn is the renowned author of more than 20 books about art for children. Her books are published both by Gryphon House and by her own company, Bright Ring Publishing