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How to make a little lighthouse out of papier-mache

Making a little papier-mâché lighthouse is straightforward. However, you can make your lighthouse more interesting and realistic by adding a working miniature light that you can switch on and off. The parts for this are inexpensive and easy to connect. Use this approach as a teacher and you can combine art with control technology.

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  1. Follow the example of Rathregan National School, Co. Meath and use the cardboard tube from a stackable crisps product to begin. Cover the tube -- except the top and base -- with several layers of papier-mâché. Leave to dry.

  2. Paint the papier-mâché to look like the walls of a lighthouse. Get design ideas from any lighthouses nearby, books and the internet. Many lighthouses have a white base coat and thick coloured stripes. However, there are several other styles. Leave to dry.

  3. Prick a hole in the centre of the plastic cap with a craft knife. Thread one red wire -- attached to a crocodile clip at the other end -- through the cap. Do the same with a black wire. These leads are called crocodile leads.

  4. Strip the ends of the wires with a wire stripper. Loosen the screws on the bulb holder. Wrap the stripped end of one of the wires around a screw. Tighten the screw. Connect the other wire to the other screw. Screw the bulb into the holder.

  5. Stick the bulb holder onto the top of the plastic cap with a piece of tape folded over to make it double-sided. Connect the wires from the battery holder to a switch. Insert the battery into the holder. Lower the battery holder into the tube.

  6. Cut a hole in the back of the tube big enough for the switch. Slip the switch into the hole so it is protruding slightly. Put a piece of tape across the back of the switch and onto the insides of the tube, leaving the terminals clear.

  7. Connect the crocodile clips to the switch terminals. Although it doesn’t really matter in a simple circuit like this, it is good to stick to the convention that red is positive and black is negative. Slide the switch on and the bulb will light up.

  8. Cut the bottom 10 cm from a clear plastic bottle. Fit it over the top of the lighthouse, so it contains the bulb and holder. Tape it into place if it is not a tight fit.

  9. Tip

    Optionally cover the plastic cap with lollipop sticks to replicate floorboards. Likewise, add a semi-circular strip of tin foil to the back of the plastic bottle base to form a reflector.

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Things You'll Need

  • Cardboard tube
  • Papier-mâché
  • Paint and brush
  • Craft knife
  • Crocodile leads
  • Wire stripper
  • Screwdriver
  • 30 mm bulb holder
  • 1.5 V 200 mA bulb
  • Tape
  • 1.5 V battery and holder
  • Slide switch
  • Plastic bottle

About the Author

Frank Luger had his first educational resources published in the early 1990s. He worked on a major reading system for Cambridge University Press, became an information-technology adviser and authored interactive whiteboard resources for "The Guardian." Luger studied English literature and holds a Bachelor of Education honors degree from Leeds University.

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