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SUMMER SOLUTION - Make a Catholic pinata!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 22nd, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A piñata is a fun activity perfect for parties and children's gatherings. Piñata's are strongly associated with Mexican culture, but common belief is that they originated in China and were brought to Italy by Marco Polo. Subsequently they were introduced to Spain and Spanish missionaries to Mexico used them as a religious teaching tool.

LOS ANGLES, CA (Catholic Online) - The traditional Mexican piñata is said to be a round ball with seven spikes emanating from it. The spikes represent the seven deadly sins. Children use a stick to destroy the sins and are rewarded with candy or toys that fall from the broken piñata.

Today, piñatas take many forms, often emulating popular characters from children's fiction.

As a summer project, this will require full supervision and assistance from an adult. It is a fantastic way to share creativity, culture and faith all at the same time.

Items needed:
A balloon.
A considerable supply of newspapers.
A pot for making paste.
Flour and water.
Filling, usually wrapped candies.
A tree, rope, blindfold and stick will be required for play.

Instructions:

1.    Blow up your balloon to the size you want the piñata to be.
2.    Create paste by mixing one part flour with two parts water.
3.    Boil this mixture and add a pinch of salt. It's ready once the texture is similar to putty.
4.    Tear newspaper into 1 ½ inch strips. Slightly smaller or larger is fine.
5.    Smear the strips with your paste then lay them over the balloon. This is papier-mâché and you will repeat this procedure for several layers.
6.    Allow it to harden and dry between each layer, you will create at least four layers, or otherwise keep adding layers until the piñata is durable.
7.    Once the piñata is hard and dry, pop the balloon inside (if it isn't already popped) and cut a hole in the top. Also, make holes near the top to pass a small rope through.
8.    Decorate the piñata in whatever form you wish. You may use paint, colorful paper, and additional attachments as you like, so long as they are made of paper or cardboard. Staples can be used to attach parts, but be careful not to crush or break the piñata while attaching these portions. Glue is recommended as a first choice.
9.    Finally, fill the piñata with candy.
10.    String the piñata with rope. String usually isn't durable enough to hang a piñata. Some piñatas have wire or string built in to help hang them.

Play!

String the piñata from a sturdy overhanging tree branch. Make sure there is plenty of room for the piñata to swing and that you can freely work the rope to raise and lower the piñata.

Spin a blindfolded child around about three times then arm them with a stick. Be careful here! Point the child in the direction of the piñata. For younger children, you may even want to touch the stick to the swinging piñata so they know where to aim.

Start from youngest to oldest. Older children will hit harder in an effort to break the piñata, while younger children are less likely to do much damage. You want to ensure that all children get at least one pass at the piñata.

Allow only a few hits or swings from each child. Allow only so many attempts or a short period, then let play pass to the next child. As each child swings, raise and lower the piñata to add challenge. Always add more challenge for older children. Understand it may be better for the whole of the stick to hit the piñata flat rather than the point where the most force will be concentrated. The tip of the stick is likely to puncture the piñata while the flat of the stick may crack it, if at all.

Once the piñata is broken, children will typically "dogpile" around the candy. This can create some hazard for kids since they lose awareness of others when they dive in to get what they want. This should be managed. Keep kids back as the piñata is broken. Wait for the last child to be relieved of his blindfold and stick. Allow small children to take a portion of the candy before letting the older kids take any. If necessary, redistribute the candy as appropriate.

Following the activity, ask kids to assist in cleanup. Leave no paper or wrappers behind!

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