Introduction :
It is an irony of modern consumerism that junk products are packed in tough cartons. While the frail human body consumes and digests the junk, it is the environment which has to grapple and reckon with the tough, non-biodegradable waste. And, in the process, humans become sick and the environment decays.

Today we can see city parks littered and garbage dumps overflowing with tetrapacks — empty cartoons of Frooti, TreeTop, Jumping Jack or Dhara. These packets are made with layers of different materials — plastic, aluminium and paper — all fused into one multi-walled laminate. We know that aluminium does not rust and plastics do not rot. These materials are energy-intensive and take a heavy toll of the environment, which helplessly chokes under the debris.

An attempt has been made in the book to show how some of this modern junk can be recycled into joyous toys. Film-roll cases can be transformed into a high-efficiency pump, Frooti tetrapacks into measuring cylinders or butterflies, packets of cigarette into merry-go-rounds. These new raw materials offer innumerable possibilities for use in low-cost science experiments and in making dynamic toys.

For five years children in Mirambika School made and tested these toys. Several of these toys have been serialised in the magazine Science Reporter.

I thank CAPART for the fellowship they gave which enabled me to collate these toys into a book.

Climbing Butterfly [Little Toy 1]

Catch a Butterfly [Little Toy 2]

Strechable Stomach [Little Toy 3]

Standing a Stick [Little Toy 4]

Shell Strength [Little Toy 5]

Tree Name-Plates [ Little Toy 6]

Little Toys
Little Toys

Climbing Butterfly :

As you alternately pull the two strings of this butterfly, it surprisingly climbs up. As soon as you release the tension on the strings, the butterfly slides down.

Make three pairs of small notches on an ice-cream stick as shown in the figure. Tie two strings of length 90 cm at the two ends and a small loop of thread in the middle notch of the ice-cream stick (Fig.1).

First flatten a tetrapack and then mark out a butterfly on its middle rectangular portion. Cut along the outline of the butterfly (Fig.2).

You will get two similar butterflies, each having silver inside and coloured outside. Cut a thick straw in half. Glue the two straws on the silver side of one butterfly with Fevibond as shown in (Fig.3).

The straws should not be parallel. When stuck they should be slightly tapering narrow at the top and slightly broad at the base. Now glue the second butterfly on to the first. Weave the threads through the side where the two ends of the straws are closer. Tie two small handles at the end of the strings (Fig.4).

Hang the middle loop on the ice-cream stick by a nail. Now as you pull the strings alternately, the butterfly climbs upwards (Fig.5). On releasing the tension in the strings, the butterfly slides down.

This most enjoyable toy is based on the scientific principle of friction and gravity.

Catch a Butterfly :

This dynamic toy requires an old postcard and an empty matchbox. First draw the picture of the girl and the butterfly on a postcard (Fig.1), and then cut it. Fold the picture along the five dotted lines (fig.2).

Little Toys [Illustrations by D. K. Sharma]
Little Toys [Illustrations by D. K. Sharma]

Stick one end of the post-card strip to the matchbox base and the other end to the matchbox drawer (fig.3).In this position the girl’s hand will be at an upward inclination and the net will be far removed from the butterfly.

On pulling the matchbox drawer outwards (fig.4), the girl catches the butterfly in the net.

Stretchable Stomach :

This toy is a source of amusement for little children.

Paste a white paper on the outer case of a matchbox as also on its drawer. Draw a cat as shown. When the drawer is slid inside, the cat appears its normal size. On pulling the drawer out, it appears as if the cat has a stretchable stomach.

In another variation of this toy, the neck of a giraffe can be stretched, much to the amusement of children!

Standing a Stick :

Your ability to balance a stick on your finger depends on the length of the stick, which you can verify by trying sticks of different lengths. It is easy to balance a foot ruler, and simply impossible to balance a pencil. If a long and a short stick are made to stand on a table then the longer stick takes longer time to topple over.

Long sticks have a smaller angular acceleration, and are thus easier to balance than short ones. However, if a clay ball is fixed to the top end of a stick, it gets easily balanced.

Shell Strength

Raw eggs can be thrown with full force on a bedsheet without breaking. This very graphic demonstration illustrates that firstly, eggs are sturdier than you think and secondly, according to Newton’s second law, the force on them is not large enough so long as they are not brought to rest too abruptly.

Let two children hold the sheet with the bottom part folded upwards to catch the eggs after they have struck the sheet.

Throw the eggs as hard as you can and you will see they do not break.

Tree Name – Plates

Cut a 4 cm x 6cm strip from a tetrapack. Place it on an old magazine with its silver side up. With a ball-pen write the name of a tree on this strip. Press the ball pen hard to get a clear impression. These name plates can be pinned to the tree with a small shoe tack nail.

Since the inside of a tetrapack is made of laminated aluminium foil, the waterproof name plates can last long and be used for educating people about the names of roadside trees.

First published by National Book Trust, India.

983 words | 9 minutes
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: craft activities
Tags: #butterfly, #stomach, #silver, #strings