Inflatables Explorations: Rural & Tribal Library Toolkit Project Phase 2

Hi everyone!

We’re branching out :palm_tree: our activity remixes for PLIX Rural & Tribal Library Toolkit Development: Phase 2 Explorations. This thread is a sandbox :beach_umbrella: for @april.g, @BCJessica, @mmwyoung, and @roxanner to share, explore, and remix :balloon: Inflatables for their library patrons and community.

Feel free to say hi :wave: and respond to their explorations!

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Hi! My kit arrived today :dancer:t3:

I am so excited to bust this out and start playing! Still trying to decide how I want to deep dive with this, hoping that exploring will give me some good ideas.

One thing, though - I tried to download the inflatables zine and pattern cards and both times I got this message:
This XML file does not appear to have any style information associated with it. The document tree is shown below.

Request has expired



@april.g Hooray :tada::confetti_ball::sparkles:! These kits are taking a while to arrive.

Try this link for the zine and this one for the pattern cards.

The error seems to show up when the random-looking text after the “.pdf” gets lost. :eyes:

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After trying out your activity, how will you remix?

  • What did you find most enjoyable? Which elements were challenging? What are you excited to explore next?
  • Which focus strategy (passive programming / take-n-make kits / locally relevant remixes / extended interaction plan) are you exploring to adapt / remix the activity? How does this connect to your community or context?
  • What are some concrete next steps to take for rolling out this activity with your patrons?

These questions will help guide your project plan in the coming weeks.

Hi! I just received our box today. It was so fun to open and see all the fun supplies like the huge origami paper and giant washi tape! I have an eager 6 year old science enthusiast at home so will test with her first. Then I’ll recruit more kids to try the project.

I’m wondering if we could remix the activity by picking up trash made of mylar material near the beach. That would be nice to provide a community service. However, I hesitate because of spreading germs during the pandemic—there’s an extra risk factor with dirty trash that was handled by strangers. I know that aerosol transmission is much more a concern than surface transmission, but it’s still something that gives me pause.


Hi @mmwyoung Michelle! So glad the kit finally arrived.

Trash cleanup is a wonderful idea, but yeah, with the risks, it’s definitely its own category of activity. Instead, you can aim for trash reduction by asking participants to bring in empty and cleaned mylar bags as part of the activity. Another idea → you can collage the scraps with the mini iron and use that to build more inflatables!

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It was hard to fully seal the mylar. In the end, it was easier to patch the holes with washi instead of trying to re-fuse the edges. That could be frustrating for kids who want to completely fuse and not rely on tape!

It was also surprisingly hard to find large mylar packages in my house. We used my toddler’s yogurt melts package and it turned out small after cutting off the thick parts.

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I can’t tell if the paper with the cutout inside is supposed to be free floating inside or adhered to the fused edges somehow. It seems to be free floating but I wanted to confirm in case I missed something.

@mmwyoung Avery loves the inflatables activity and would have better suggestions.

@averymsnormandin Could you take a look here and let us know if you’ve had experience with this?


Here’s our first try!


Thank you for sharing! That was :star2: amazing and so adorable!!

I know we’re encouraged to use recycled materials for the mylar, but I just bought a small roll so that we have more options with the size of the inflatables. I found that the packaging we have on hand is limited, and after cutting off the seams it gets pretty small. Plus I don’t want to buy more bags of chips! I’d encourage kids who do the activity to try out stuff they have at home, but for the initial experiments just want them to concentrate on creating with the materials.


That’s totally fine.

With my paper crafts I like to save the scraps for smaller crafting in a dedicated container. It helps alleviate the mental self-nagging. Especially since I suspect some of the paper (glitter, shimmer, foil) I work with may not be recyclable.

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What’s the most enjoyable/challenging about the activity?

  • Enjoyable: I’ve had a lot of fun exploring the various Inflatables iterations/ideas (and also some of the other projects! There is so much to explore…like 12+ months worth of ideas and more.) The site is a super helpful resource, especially given how burnt out I feel due to the stress of COVID and being massively short staffed at work.
  • Challenges: 1) Scheduling outreach due to local COVID restrictions. 2) Safety–because I’d prefer to use the tiny irons on EVERYTHING for a cleaner look.

Share your ideas for running the activity in your library/community
Take-and-Make Kits

  • I’m in the process of putting together Breathing Beast Kits for delivery to my local Housing Works apartment complex, and I’ll also have some to give away in my library.
  • I’d love to try other variations (i.e. Bunny Ears in April; or flowers during El Dia, etc., (Ghost) Monster in a Box as part of a larger discussion about fears and courage when we celebrate the author of El Cucuy is Scared Too!, and more at seasonal outreach events at Mobile Home Parks/Housing Works Sites and with Latinx youth.

Next steps / questions you have

  • What happens if the bulk of my outreach or interaction happens April-July due to COVID and seasonal scheduling with Latinx youth or those living in mobile home parks and other housing work sites?

What’s most enjoyable/challenging about the activity?

  • The most daunting aspect about this activity is getting back into the swing of programming – we haven’t had in-person programs in quite a long time, and our tween group whom I think this is best suit for has aged out, so we are going to use this as a jumpstart activity for this group, but we will need to do some promotion to let kids know we are doing this again.

Share your ideas for running the activity in your library/community

  • Locally-relevant Remixes / Extended Interaction Kits
  • Native spring flowers blooming - dogwood blossoms, branches of redbuds/ forsythia/ morel mushrooms? Local animals?
  • I think we’re going to run this program over several weeks
  • Would kids be interested in making flowers to put in a window display? How to keep inflated /display nicely
  • Could we check this out with the iron and materials ss a kit for homeschool families to complete projects at home? This would happen after the activity is facilitated at a in-house program

Next steps / questions you have

  • The inflatables activity is recommended for ages older than I had originally thought – could this be tried/beta tested with school aged (elementary school) kids too?
  • Is it too limiting to ask the kids to create flowers/ mushrooms?

What’s most enjoyable/challenging about the activity?

  • Finding mylar material around the house was harder than I thought–we have a lot of snacks, but the packaging is not mylar for most of it. And the packaging I could find became small after cutting off the seams.
  • It was hard to iron the mylar so that the edges fused together completely. Had to redo, and even then there were still several holes so had to rely on the washi tape–faster and easier!
  • It is fun to see the inflatable work! And nice to reuse everyday materials.

Share your ideas for running the activity in your library/community

  • Since my library is closed temporarily for construction and it’s hard to get access to schools because of COVID-19, I would like to do the take-and-make kits. However, it might be tricky because of the ironing involved. I might have to lean completely on the washi tape for sealing the seams if kids don’t have access to irons at home. It would be too expensive to give them all their own mini irons!
  • Another thing I was thinking of trying is a locally-relevant remix, like adding rice or another small noise-making item in the inflatable and see what happens.

Next steps / questions you have

  • My 6yo was asking about what the paper with the cut-out shape inside the inflatable does. I’ll print the zine, and I’m wondering if there are other resources like brief videos that explain what happens.
  • The origami paper included made me curious what would happen if we made an origami balloon or crane out of the mylar material.

I’m wondering if it’s easier to use “real” standard-sized irons to seal the mylar.

Thanks, @averymsnormandin, for explaining that we have to iron the whole mylar surface, not just the edges. I feel silly for missing that. That makes more sense for the cut-out paper shapes to work. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

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One thing you can use is hair straightening irons! That way you don’t need a surface to iron on.

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I agree that the activity is for older kids than I originally anticipated. However, I do think it can be adapted for younger kids. The dynamic nature of the inflatables makes it attractive to a wide range of ages! I think the most fun part was when my 6yo blew up the inflatable to test the seal and spot the holes that needed washi tape patching!

This could be a great Earth Day activity for kids to see that “trash” can be used for activities or even decoration (can paint over the mylar with acrylic and display), especially if they make complex shapes like the dogwood flowers you mentioned.

Oh that’s brilliant!