Tongue depressors are a handy crafting material since they don’t require additional preparation and they don’t contain any small parts. Children of all ages can work with them easily because they are thick, sturdy and can be jazzed up with a multitude of decorations, such as paint, glitter or magic marker. Very small children may need assistance with using liquid glue, but tongue depressors are a clever craft item to use for many projects.
Make an easy backyard birdhouse with wooden tongue depressors. Start by making four panels, one for the floor and three walls. For each panel, lay four or five tongue depressors vertically next to each other. Using a hot glue gun, attach two tongue depressors horizontally across the top and bottom of the vertical sticks. Repeat this process for each panel. Start constructing the birdhouse by laying one panel (the floor) on a flat surface with the two sticks on the inside. Hot-glue each of the three remaining panels vertically to the floor panel leaving one side open; this will be the front of the house. When the hot glue is dry, attach the roof. For a flat roof, repeat the process of each panel by gluing the depressors flat across the two walls from front to back. For a pitched roof, create two more panels, but use only one stick, going across to the sticks that are side by side. Attach one panel at a time to the walls on an angle. When both are in place, glue another tongue depressor down the middle of each roof panel for stability. Allow the glue to dry before hanging it outside.
Make a cute picture frame for kids to give as a holiday gift with tongue depressors and a little festive paint or sparkles. Either ask the children to bring in a wallet-sized photo or write a poem about their family for the center of the decorative frame. Depending on the size of the photo or poem, determine the size of the frame. For a simple triangle-shaped frame for a photo, simply arrange the tongue depressors in a triangle and glue the ends on top of one another with liquid glue. When the glue is dry, place the photo in the center of the triangle from the back side and tape it in place. Place the entire frame on a sheet of colored construction paper and trace it. Cut out the traced triangle and glue it to the back side of the frame for a finished look. The same process works for framing poems; just arrange the tongue depressors in the shape of a square or rectangle.
Recipe Card Holder
To make a useful recipe card holder, you will need 20 to 30 tongue depressors, depending on their width. Start by gluing about six together. Lay them vertically and glue them long sides together. Next, make three stacks of depressors for the bottom and sides using about five sticks glued on top of each other. Attach them to the larger panel in a U-shape with the bottom sticks laying horizontal. To make the front of the card holder, lay tongue depressors across the two side stacks and glue them in place until you get halfway up the main panel, creating a pocket for the recipe cards. You can finish by turning the holder over and gluing two depressors in a V-shape to hang.
Tongue depressors are also very handy for seasonal ornaments, such as snowflakes, angels or reindeer. Use basic shapes as inspiration and make toy soldiers, sleighs or even Santa Claus by stacking sticks and using paint or magic markers to decorate. Tongue depressors come in many sizes and widths, so have a variety on hand for arts and crafts. And remember: any craft done with tongue depressors can also be done with Popsicle sticks. Use craft glue, wood glue or a hot glue gun for best results, and always assist young children when you are using anything that can burn or cause cuts, such as sharp crafting knives.
Patricia K. Maggio is a freelance writer originally from Chicago, Ill. She has been living, studying or working in Europe since 2007, when she graduated with a B.A. in English from DePaul University. Most recently, her screenwriting work has appeared on BBC America and STYLE Network.