About four weeks ago, I was making pinatas. Fingers, hands and wrists caked in paste mixed out of all-purpose flour, water and salt, I was rapidly spinning pieces of paper around inflated balloons. My kids, having experienced several of my crazed late night paper mache crafting projects, offered up a bit of wisdom. As they kept their hands clean, my son bounced around the room in his jammies making it very clear how excited he was that I'd be bringing the pinatas to his preschool. My daughter suggested that maybe I should have just made a single pinata-- rather than one for each child at my son's school. And, they both offered up the critique that the house smelled wretched ('like worse than throw up smells' was the actual phrase used) as the scent of paste overtook the air.
About three weeks ago, with the baby in the backpack, my daughter and I walked into my son's preschool with a giant laundry basket of hardened pinata shells. The smell of paste was still strong, but the shells were firm and ready for decorating. So, with the help of the school's staff and my daughter's enthusiasm for helping younger kids complete an art project, we helped my son and his classmates decorate their pinatas. To keep the craft friendly for the young age group and appropriate for their fine motor skills, we supplied strips of tape (thanks to my daughter for cutting endless pieces!) and pre-cut scraps of paper. The paper was a mix of origami paper and magazine pages, cut with decorative scissors into random shapes. The children covered their globes in any fashion they chose.
About two weeks ago, on a weekday around midnight, I sat at our dining room table stuffing each now decorated pinata with little treats. A tiny rubber duck, a lightweight toy car, a small plastic animal, wrapped assorted candies, streamers, a pinch of confetti-- each pinata was stuffed. Next, i tied a long ribbon with a sizable knot on one end and placed the knotted end inside the pinata. Then, using another piece of paper I patched up the hole, letting the ribbon stream out. After attaching another string on the opposite end and labeling with each child's name, the pinatas were put to rest for a few days.
And, then, last week, at the school's end of the year picnic, the pinatas swung gently in the breeze providing fun color to the outdoor event. On the count of three, each child pulled on their ribbon dangling from the pinata and goodies jumped to the ground followed quickly by some pretty happy kids.