One of my favorite elementary music classroom elements is the “Fluffy Ball”. I use this yarn ball for passing games like El Florón or echo practice games, and it’s heartily enjoyed by students. Because they are really soft, they are really easy to catch for most students (and if a student is not paying attention, it doesn’t hurt to get hit by an underhand toss…even an overhead toss, though I discourage that for multiple reasons in most settings).
I took this idea from Kris Versteegt, former president of Kodály Educators of Iowa (and bought one of hers through KEI’s store available at their workshops). The PVC niddy-noddy I already had from my sister made the wrapping of bundles a lot easier, but isn’t necessary, as you can wrap the yarn around a board or a book.
- a pound of yarn.
I have made this with the Red Heart Super Saver (three 6 oz) skeins, but the Caron pound skeins are handy and there’s often a coupon off one regular priced item at JoAnn’s or Hobby Lobby.
- an object with about a 12″ perimeter/circumference
(a hard cover book that is 5″ wide and 1″ thick would do it) or you can make bigger loops and tie them off into 12″ sections before cutting.
1. Wrap small bundles
I started out with the book and wrapped 75 times around. Carefully slide it off the book and use another piece of yarn to tie it tightly. Cut the secured loop opposite of the knot you tied to yield a 12″ bundle with a tie in the middle.
With the niddy noddy I wrapped 2 yard loops (still 75 times) and tied in six equally spaced places. I then slid it off the niddy-noddy and cut halfway between ties.
2. Wrap bundles together.
I like to lay a long strand of the same yarn on the floor and stack the smaller bundles like a pile of logs perpendicular to the long strand (or you can line up the ties with the long strand…same thing…you want to tie them in the middle of their 12″ length so your ball isn’t lopsided).
Once I have a few I tie around them tightly, flip it over, tie it again, and flip it once more so that the long strand is on the bottom. Do this every so often, using another long strand if you need to, as it will make it secure and is a lot easier than only at the end.
It doesn’t need to be neat. If you get it to be neat you’re spending too much time on it. If you see some loops that didn’t get cut, no big deal, as you’ll be giving it a shaping next.
3. Cut it up
I have always thought learning how to cut hair would be awesome. This is as close as I’ll probably ever get. Rotate it a lot and look for parts that don’t look even. Shake it out every now and then as well.
By the way, this makes a mess. I recommend doing this on a surface you can sweep, swiffer, or vaccuum immediately because even held over the garbage can, there are fuzzy bits everywhere. I made the mistake of doing this in my classroom over the grabby industrialized carpet once…and I had students picking up fuzz all day long.