Introduction: BRAID THAT OCTOPUS - a Craft Project for Kids Ages 4 -10

Picture of BRAID THAT OCTOPUS - a Craft Project for Kids Ages 4 -10
When I was a young child (about 4 or 5 years old), my mom taught me how to braid by making an octopus doll and allowing me to braid its legs. The following set of instructions is a step-by-step guide on how to teach your little one how to braid.

If your child is somewhat older, you can cater this project to their skill set by discussing the math involved. Whatever the age of your child, this project is intended for kids between the ages of 4 – 10 years old.



Supplies and Tools

1. Yarn
2. Scissors

3. Ruler/Measuring Tape

4. Glue Gun

5. 9 Rubber Bands

6. Markers, buttons, ribbons, googly eyes, or whatever else you need/want to make your octopus look fabulous

Step 1: Cut the Yarn

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Cut 36 pieces of yarn with each piece being approximately 36 inches in length. Lay out your cut yarn in groups of 3. [There should be 12 groups of three.]

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Cater the yarn to your child’s abilities

• Yarn that is thick and tightly wound is often easier for little fingers to deal with. Working with fuzzy or loose yarn can be frustrating for young kids.

 

Talk numbers with your child

• If your child is a bit older, allow her to measure and cut the yarn. Ask her questions about the math involved. For example, “Each section of the leg has 3 strands of yarn. There are 3 sections to every leg. How many strands of yarn will we have per leg?” [3x3=9 strands of yarn per leg] If we want 8 legs and there are 9 strands of yarn per leg, how many strands of yarn do we need?” [8 x 9 = 36 strands total] “We know that there are 12 inches in a foot and we want each strand of yarn to be approximately 36 inches. So how many feet will there be in each strand?” [36 ÷ 12 = 3 feet per strand, approximately]

Step 2: Secure the Ends of Each Leg

Picture of Secure the Ends of Each Leg
For each strand of three, glue each of the ends together. This will make the octopus legs more manageable for your child. Keep in mind that these glued ends will eventually be cut off so don’t worry if they don’t look perfect.

Unless your child is very mature, I recommend that an adult hot glue the ends of the strands together. Sometimes glue guns can get pretty hot and you don’t want your child burning herself. To keep her busy, ask her about what she wants her octopus to look like – will it have button eyes, ribbons on the feet, glittery hair, etc…?


Step 3: Create the Head of the Octopus

Picture of Create the Head of the Octopus

With your remaining yarn, make a spherical shape. Wrap the yarn around your fingers several times – use about 1/3 of the left over yarn. Then, slip the yarn off your fingers and use the remaining 2/3 to wrap the yarn ball in a circular motion until all of the left over yarn is used on the spherical shape. This spherical shape will be the head of your octopus. Glue the end of the yarn down with your glue gun.

Step 4: Glue the Legs to the Head

Picture of Glue the Legs to the Head

One-by-one, fold the 12 sets of legs over the head and glue them in place.

Step 5: Secure the Legs

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Take one of your rubber bands and secure the legs by placing a rubber band at the base of the head, around the legs.

Step 6:

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Take three sets of legs and with your child watching closely, demonstrate how to braid. When you have reached the end of the completed octopus leg, tie it off with a rubber band and cut the excess off.

Step 7:

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Separate three more sets of legs and allow your child to braid its leg.

Stay close-by and watch your child – make sure she understands what you just showed her.

Keep in mind that many young children have a difficult time tying off the end of the leg after they have finished braiding it. When she has reached the end of the leg, ask her to bring the octopus back to you so you can tie it off. At this point, you can pick out three more sets that are close to one another and tell her to braid those. Continue this process until all eight legs have been braided


Step 8: Jazz It Up!

Picture of Jazz It Up!
Now that the octopus’s legs are finished, it’s time to make it beautiful. Glue on eyes, make a mouth, tie on ribbons, or draw on it with pens – whatever your child want to make it unique.

Now your child knows how to braid and they have a
fun, unique octopus to talk about at show-and-tell!


Comments

crios42 (author)2011-06-17

This worked out great. I found that after the braiding, just tying off the legs worked better than using rubber bands. We might have been using yarn that was too thin though.

playfulplans (author)2011-04-07

Just a delightful learning toy and a thorough Instructible.

Congrats!

OlivePie (author)2011-01-27

Great Idea!! It is so simple and Fun. This is definitely my kind of project. :]

Zambezia (author)2010-08-01

I absolutely love the octopus! However, sorry, I am confused by the maths here! You say each leg has three sections and each section has three strands, so with 8 legs that is 3x3x8 = 36. In my books 9 x 8 = 72 - at least it did when I did "A" Level Maths. Unless I am missing the point completely (I am a simple male after all!) each leg is made up of only 3 strands (a 3 strand braid??), so only 24 strands are needed to make 8 legs. (Step 4 talks about glueing the 12 sets of legs??) Not trying to be difficult - just trying to understand as I think it would make a great project for my kids at a charity in Brazil. As I said at the beginning - absolutely adore the octopus, but just confused by the maths of the material requirements.

Mehehehful (author)2010-05-13

 Love it! uuber cute!

PhilosopheFop (author)2010-05-12

This is a really cute idea for helping kids develop fine motor skills. I think it would insult the intelligence of anyone over the age of 6, however.
10? I was doing algebra and some trig at age 10.
An algebraic octopus would have been cool though! :)

canida (author)2010-05-12

Cute idea!

I'd recommend another loop on the head so you can hold or tie it down - braiding is a bit harder without something to pull against.

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