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How to Make 300 Ribbon Streamers for $10

I'm cheap.  There.  I said it.  Well, maybe I should say that I'm "thrifty".  As a music teacher I am always looking for great deals on all sorts of odd things.  I've been on the hunt for rubber ducks, plastic axes, coon skins, plastic fruit, bottle caps, icing lids, cutting boards and more items that may seem a little unusual for the classroom.  When I can make one of these unique items I certainly do.

For my non-concert program this spring we are going to do an activity with ribbon streamers.  I need enough for all of my third and fourth graders and at least one of their parents.  I guesstimated about 300.  To purchase ribbon streamers, I would have to spend more than a thousand dollars!  YIKES!

Instead of that, I spent about ten bucks.  The kids love them and they are actually pretty sturdy.  I have a classroom set that I made about 7 years ago that are still in great shape.  The streamers are made from unsharpened pencils and plastic tablecloths.  Here's what to do:

1.  Call a local business and ask for a donation of unsharpened pencils.  It's advertising for them and a money saver for you.  If you can't find any you could substitute chopsticks or dowel rods.  My pencils look like money because a local bank donated them.  My older set is just a plain white pencil with no eraser. 

2.  Purchase several rectangle shaped plastic tablecloths.  I don't have an exact number for you, but I was able to make 28-35 streamers out of each one.  I wasn't very concerned that they were uniform in size, so it varied for me.  Choose several different colors for added interest and for more variety in the kinds of activities they can be used in.  These were $ .97 each at Walmart

3.  Cut the tablecloths into strips.  I folded the tablecloths so that I would be cutting the width of the tablecloth.  (This is the shorter side.)  Cutting it longways creates a ribbon that is too long for most of my kiddos.  Cut the strips about 2-3 inches wide.  It is not likely that the strips will be even and straight unless you cut very precisely.  I just called them whimsical, shrugged my shoulders and moved on.

4.  Unfold one of the strips and add a piece of tape about the same size as the ribbon on the end.

5.  Tape this to the end of the pencil with a little bit of tape hanging over.

6.  Roll the pencil toward the ribbon until it touches the other side of the tape.

7.  Roll the entire ribbon up and you have a streamer that is ready to use!

What kind of things do I do with these?  I'll post more ideas soon but for now you might want to check out these visuals for using ribbons, scarves and streamers in music class.  It makes activities easy and fun!

Want some more great ideas that work for real teachers?  I'm linking up with Mrs. Miracle's Music Room to share even more ideas with Worked for Me Wednesday.  Follow the link to see more great ideas!

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  1. Great directions, Tracy! I have been saving the recorder cleaning rods from the 4th grade recorders for just this purpose. If I gave the rods to the kids, they would be hitting or poking each other. Why not make ribbon streamers? Now I know what to make the streamer part out of. Thanks!

  2. So simple yet genius! Thanks for the idea Tracy!

  3. Love that tablecloth idea! I made some with ribbons a few years ago and they all started fraying horribly. I'm sure the plastic holds up much better.

  4. Great money-saving idea, Tracy! Thanks for linking up! :)