Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Spin It!- RES

 When I was little I had a Fisher-Price record player onto which I perched plastic Breyer Horses and pretended it was a carousel, and I would change the speed and watch them fly off. So it made a lot of sense that one of my favorite childhood gifts was this outstanding piece of 1980's engineering:
Did you have one of these?
Fast forward to being an art teacher and (sort of) an adult. 
Behold, my salad spinner.

Usually when I use a salad spinner, I am making a salad. But that's so boring. My own kids love our salad spinner, and put all kinds of things into it- stuffies, balls, toys- to watch them go around and around. No vegetables, hours of fun, and happy kids.

But what if you throw some paint and paper in there? Could this little spinner create the centrifugal force of my childhood toy? I had read about the idea, and had to find out.

Pieces of paper cut to fit inside
An RES third grader was more than willing to help me with this little experiment. Here, she has placed the paper inside and dripped in some paint.
Tempera or other thick paints work well for this
A light spin later, it looked like this:
Not quite like we'd hoped.  
More paint.

Now we were getting somewhere. But the closed top bummed us out, because we couldn't add the paint while it was in motion.  I am still brainstorming that one, because the concentric circles possible with the open-topped toy version were really cool.

The paper just sat on the bottom, no tape needed to hold it in place.
 Not to be deterred, we continued!  They came out pretty wonderful, and we are thinking about making more so that the student has enough to create her own mobile of these beauties spinning around from the ceiling.

Peeking in

 Opening the top is fun every time. It feels giddy, like opening a little surprise gift.

The paper doesn't have to be circular- triangles or squares would work as well.
 Now I need to acquire more salad spinners, so a whole grade level can get in on this magic.
 If you have one collecting dust, please consider donating it to the art room!


  1. This really brought back a memory for me! In my very first teaching job, I shared a grade 8-12 art room with another teacher who became a mentor to me in my early years. Our classroom had metal adjustable stools with round seats on a single central spindle. And boy, they could spin! With her guidance, we taught color theory by having the students use a loop of tape to tape a square of paper to the seat of the stool The kids worked in pairs. One one student would get the stool spinning, while the other used 'biggie' brick temperas. One color at a time would be added while the stool spun, and the results were wonderful concentric circles with the color blending from one to the next. We would cut and collage with them, and it was always both fun and a good learning experience. When I left that job, I really missed those stools for color mixing, but I didn't miss them otherwise, since the kids also loved to sit and spin...I haven't thought of this in years!

    But now I want to get an extra salad spinner!

    1. Phyl, That sounds awesome! I have a friend with a pottery wheel in his classroom that uses it similarly to how you used those stools- he lets kids who are done throwing pottery tape paper to the bat and hold crayons while it spins to make concentric rings. But being crayons, the colors don't blend much- I would love to use a wheel with paint!