valentine boxSome say Valentine's Day originated when a Roman named Valentine was imprisioned for refusing to give up Christianity. It's believed that the Emperor Claudius had Valentine jailed for defying him by serving as a priest at the temple. The jailer's daughter had befriended him, and Valentine left her a farewell note on the day he died, February 14, 269 A.D. He signed the message "From Your Valentine." He was recognized for his courage and valor on February 14, 496 A.D. when he was sainted by Pope Gelasius.

St. Valentine is the patron saint of lovers, and February 14th, or Valentine's Day, is observed in many parts of the world by exchanging tokens of love and friendship in the form of candy, flowers, and, of course, cards known as valentines. Children in America celebrate by having parties and giving valentines to other students and their teachers. Usually each child decorates some kind of container, and the valentines are delivered and deposited in each "mailbox." You can help save landfill space and natural resources by recycling a discarded tissue box to make a valentine character container.

Valentine Character Mailbox

How to:

Choose a tissue box that has a central opening on the top rather than the type which opens on the top and side. This opening will be your character's mouth. Have an adult make a lid on one end of the box by cutting on three sides, as shown. If necessary, tear away the plastic film inside the box near the opening.

Sample Kleenex BoxesNow you're ready to give your character some character! Will it be an animal or a person? Do you think he or she is yawning, screaming (growling), or singing? Decide on the type of animal or person you want your character to be, and start decorating the face.

You'll need to create a mouth, eyes, ears, and a nose. To make the mouth, find a scrap of red or pink construction paper large enough to fit the box's opening. Glue this inside, and, if you wish, make lips and glue them around the opening. You may want to make teeth, and if you're creating a person, consider adding hair, eyebrows, glasses, earrings, or maybe even a mustache and a hat.

With a little practice, anyone can make a heart, so an easy and surefire way to make a person's nose is to cut a small heart out of a folded piece of paper, and glue it upside down on the container just above the mouth. One way to make ears is to cut two large hearts. Glue one-half of the heart against the side of the box, and open the other half out to make the ear, as shown.

If you're making ears for an animal, such as a cat, dog, or rabbit, you can still use hearts. Just cut them out and glue them upside down (with the point up) on the lid. Make floppy ears for a dog by gluing the point on top and letting most of the heart hang over the edge.

paper sculptureRemember, the paper you work with is flat, but by cutting it and using paper sculpture techniques, you can make it three-dimensional. Your character will be more interesting and fun to create if you use these methods to make the hair and the facial features. Here's a review of some ways to work with paper:

Fringing: Make successive cuts all across a scrap of paper. The size and shape of the paper is determined by what purpose it will serve, but this is a good one for beards, mustaches, and hair. Layer fringed pieces to add interest and bulk.

Curling: Wrap a long strip of paper around a pencil, or curl the paper by winding it around your finger. If you're careful, you can curl paper by using scissors. Hold the paper in one hand and the scissors in the other. Open the scissors wide, and place one blade on top of the paper. Hold the scissors with your thumb on top and place your forefinger underneath. Draw the blade away from you several times. This method is also good for making hair.

Pleating: Fold a scrap back and forth in an accordion pleat till you come to the end of the paper. Make a fan shape by gluing one end. Use this for decorative trim or earrings.

Jacob's Ladder or Spring: Starting with two strips of paper that are one-half inch wide and at least nine inches long, glue the ends together to look like a capital letter L. Lay the shape in front of you, and fold back and forth, with the vertical strip always going up and down and the horizontal one folding to the left and right. When you come to the ends, glue them together and cut off the extra paper. If you wish, fasten one end to the other with glue to make a circular shape.

Scoring: Open your scissors wide and use one blade like a knife by drawing or pulling it across the paper in a straight line or an arc. Since paper has a grain, scoring helps to make the paper bend easier.

Spiral: Starting on the outside edge of a circle, make a small cut into the shape. Then cut around and around slowly moving into the center. When you're done, extend the shape by pulling out on the center. Glue eyeballs on these or use lots of smaller ones for curly hair.

Chains: Glue a short strip of paper into a circle or loop. Put another strip through the circle and glue it to itself. Continue adding strips and gluing till you make the chain as long as needed. Small chains may be used for necklaces or parts of earrings.

Cylinder: Start with a square or rectangular scrap of paper. Roll it into a cylinder and glue it shut. Use for decorative trim, hair rollers, or a nose.

In addition to paper sculpture techniques, you may wish to use crayons or markers to decorate your valentine container. When you're finished, there's just one more thing to do, and that's have a Happy Valentine's Day!


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Tips and Tricks:

Remember that it's possible to glue shapes on edge. Just be patient and hold the shape till it stays in place.

Look around your house to see what other materials you can use to decorate your container and help save landfill space. Have an adult help you look through drawers, closets, sewing baskets, or a jewelry box to find items to recycle.

After Valentine's Day, display your container in your room, and use it to hold special treasures or a small collection of items.