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How to make a paper-bag mushroom

The How-To Issue

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Get your classroom or group of friends, co-workers, relatives or inmates together and make a bunch of mushrooms out of paper bags. Make as many as you can, then plant them in your school yard, your lawn, your friend’s lawn, a neighborhood park – wherever people will see them.
Here’s what you need:

• paper lunch bags
• bamboo skewers (the kind used for shish kebabs)
• small rubber bands (found at office supply stores or beauty shops)
• glue sticks
• hot melt glue gun

First, take the paper bag and open it up. Then squeeze the bag in the middle with one hand – the closed bottom of the bag will be your mushroom cap, and the rest will be your stem, so make sure the bottom of the bag is above your fist and the top of the bag is the part you’re holding in your fist.
Using the hand that’s not holding the bag, “pop” the top of the mushroom down to make a mushroom cap against your fist. Be sure not to pop it too hard or it will pop for real and ruin the bag.

Now take a bamboo skewer and place it up through the stem of the mushroom with the pointed side out. Now squeeze the lower part of the bag into a stem shape. DON’T TWIST IT, just squish it.

Grab the neck of the mushroom with one hand and flatten the top with your other hand. Rotate your mushroom a bit while doing this, and push the corners of the bag inward. This gives the mushroom a more rounded appearance. If you don’t do this, your mushroom will have square corners, and no one likes a square-cornered mushroom. Then, using your thumbs and forefingers, pinch and rotate the underside of the mushroom cap to give it a better mushroom shape.

Put a rubber band at the top of the stem, underneath the cap. Then put another rubber band toward the bottom of the stem. The rubber bands help keep the mushroom from bulging out if it gets wet or rained on. (Note: If rubber bands are not available, you can use masking tape.)

Next, open the bottom of the mushroom a little bit and squirt a drop of hot-melt glue into the base of the stem. Make sure the glue comes in contact with the bamboo skewer and the paper. (Note: You can also use white glue, but it will take longer to dry and will not withstand rain.

Pinch the bottom of the mushroom to squish the glue to the paper and skewer. Without the glue, your mushrooms will fly off the stick in a gust of wind. HEY! HOT MELT GLUE IS HOT. IT WILL HURT IF YOU GET IT ON YOU. I SHOULD KNOW.

Your mushroom is now complete. Yay! Carefully place it into the ground. Now make few hundred more. What else were you going to do with your day, anyway? Make a bunch. You can put them in a pattern or make a natural-looking crop of mushrooms. You can paint them or do whatever you want.

Think like a mushroom and have fun, OK?

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