To go along with our new children’s book Mira, the Misfit Sea Dragon, we’ve come up with a cozy craft that’s perfect for hanging in your own “home sweet home” — and has an added bonus of a learning element too. You can even make it holiday-themed!
Our newest book is very dear to our hearts, coming from our personal story of finding where we feel we are meant to be, while also teaching about ocean life — our passion!
It’s a story about being on a journey of finding what feels quite right.
We all have that “quite right” in us, and the leafy sea dragon is a perfect example of being made for something bigger.
As a type of seahorse, Mira and her sea dragon friends are perfectly camouflaged to blend in with (spoiler alert!) the seaweed by having fins that look like leaves. (Be sure to read the book before you do the craft, since it will otherwise spoil the ending. Get it at Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com!)
To help make this concept of camouflage more real, here’s a fun craft using a paper plate and eco-friendly felt (made from recycled plastic) for the wreath, and pipe cleaners and foam for the sea dragon.
A holiday version is easy too — by adding a few red pipe cleaners and a red ribbon 🙂
What you’ll need:
For the paper plate & felt wreath:
- 1 paper plate
- 4-5 pieces of green felt (each 9×12″), preferably 3 different shades of green – we like Creatology eco-fi felt from Michaels that’s made from recycled plastic bottles)
- scissors (fabric scissors make cutting the felt a lot easier)
- hole punch
For the sea dragon & home sweet home tag:
- pen or sharpie
- this printable “home sweet home” tag and seahorse body stencil
- colored pencils or crayons
- 3 green pipe cleaners (preferably 2 different shades of green)
- 1 pipe cleaner of a different color (like pink, blue, purple, red, etc.)
- 1 small sheet of green craft foam
- 1 googly eye (or just use a sharpie or black pen)
- craft glue
- If you’d rather do a paper sea dragon instead of the pipe cleaner & foam version, you could color & cut out the one on the right side of the printable sheet and attach with glue or twine.
- If you do the holiday version, you’ll also need 3 red pipe cleaners along with enough red ribbon to tie a bow – 15 inches or so.
How to make it:
1. First, punch a hole in the center of the paper plate with a pencil or other pointed tool (an adult should do this).
2. Then, putting the scissors in the hole, cut the center out of the paper plate and trim the inside edges if needed to make it even.
3. Cut the felt into strips (about 1″ wide):
4. Tie the felt strips around the paper plate as you see here, and slide them with your fingers so that they nudge next to each other. (We used an alternating pattern of colors, but however you want to design it is up to you!)
To cover up any white of the paper plate, slide the strips together and tug the way the ends are positioned to your liking. (You could also paint the paper plate green if you wanted to use less felt pieces.)
Now for the sea dragon:
1. For the sea dragon body, cut out the stencil and trace it onto the foam sheet. then cut out the foam sea dragon (careful not to make the neck too thin).
2. To make the “leafy” parts of the leafy sea dragon, cut two pipe cleaners into sections as shown here:
Bend the pipe cleaner pieces like so:
And for the tail, take the largest green pipe cleaner section and bend it in half. Then twirl the folded end around your fingers to give it a spiral-like shape:
3. With a wire end of the top fin pipe cleaner, poke both ends into the backbone side of the sea dragon, twist the ends together, and bend it so that both sides of the pipe cleaner are flat against the sea dragon body (see photos below). Repeat for the other two back fins, and also poke one hole each for the two small “hair” fins.
4. For the tail, slide each end against either side of the sea dragon body. Secure it by bending the ends around the other pipe cleaners:
5. To add some color, take your pick of another color of pipe cleaner. We chose pink to make it Mira, but you can choose any color you want! Cut one pipe cleaner into fourths, and bend them in half:
Then put them around the belly of the sea dragon, bending as needed to secure (you’ll have one left over):
6. Glue on a googly eye. Once it dries, you can use a black pen to outline the eye and add some eyelashes! (Or, you can just draw on an eye with a sharpie or black pen.)
Let’s put it all together!
Color the “Home Sweet Home” tag and cut it out. Then, punch a hole in the top and tie it to the wreath with twine.
Then attach the sea dragon with twine:
Once the sea dragon is on the wreath, it would be a great time to admire with the kids how the sea dragon blends in so well with the “seaweed”, with a body and fins to help them stay safely hidden in their home sweet home.
Feel free to introduce or reinforce science terms like “adaptations,” “habitat,” and “camouflage.” An example of an adaptation here would be the sea dragon’s fins that look like leaves help blend in with the seaweed.
You can also point out the straw-like mouth which is used to slurp up tiny shrimp floating in the water – a great adaptation for catching food!
And why not take a dive into some leafy sea dragon research:
National Geographic Leafy Sea Dragon Animal Profile
Video of a leafy sea dragon swimming:
For a holiday version, swap out the pink (or other non-green color) pipe cleaner on Mira for red, add a red ribbon and make some red pipe cleaner spirals as fun ornaments!
Slide the pipe cleaner spirals under the felt pieces to secure. (We used 3 red pipe cleaners total: one for the stripes on Mira the sea dragon, one full pipe cleaner plus another cut in half to make three ornaments.) Mira got a little bit of a scarf on ours!
Whether it’s for the holidays or just because, we hope it brightens your home — both through the fun of creating and the decoration it makes to enjoy.
Hang your creation proudly as a beautiful reminder of Home Sweet Home!
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