Activity: Static Magic (Free materials)

We love learning and having fun, this activity is a little science experiment exploring static with a bit of a creative twist! Is it science, or just pure magic?

We have a FREE activity pack to support this activity, if you haven't got these materials at home. This includes instructions (you can download here), balloons, tissue paper, a felt tip, and sticky labels (to use as tape). All you need to add are scissors and something woollen, like a jumper or a hat.

If you would like a free materials pack, email and we can pop one in the post for you, or you can now collect from our shop.

A pair of scissors, red material, two yellow balloons, two pens and a roll of cellotape laid out on a table.

Gather your materials and tools and make a clear area to work, you can put a sheet of card down as a base to protect the surface.

Think of a moving picture or a ‘set’ that you would like to create. Could it be flying a kite? A bed of seaweed, or a sea creature? Maybe a dancing figure? Have a think about what it might be. Look at the video to give you inspiration and to get organised for making.

When you are ready, fold the tissue paper several times in the same direction, the size will depend on your design. Draw a line 1cm from the bottom of the paper. Then draw your design above this line on the top layer of tissue paper. Cut out your design making sure that the bottom 1cm of paper is not cut, this allows the layers of cut out paper to be linked together which is super important.

Once you have cut around your image, carefully open the tissue paper to reveal lots of silhouettes of the same shape all linked together. You can carefully add any patterns or marks to these shapes using your felt tip.

Tape the bottom line of the cut-out design down onto the covered table or card base. If you are using a card base you can decorate this too.

Now blow your balloons up!

You could add a drawing on the balloons too, if you do this it is best to use permanent marker so it won’t rub off. You might need a grown up to help with this as permanent pen does not come off anything!

When everything is all set you are ready to create movement. Simply use something woollen such as jumper, scarf or hat to rub on the balloons, and then straight away put the balloon near your paper designs. The friction between the balloon and fabric creates something called static electricity. But don’t worry it won’t shock you! The static electricity pulls the paper towards the balloon.

Try moving your balloon up and down, from side to side or making circles and patterns in the air, you can make your paper designs flow and dance like they are caught in the wind!

Play with the shadows your design creates, maybe make a mini film, or start to introduce other objects for your design to dance around!

A yellow balloon with a smiley sunshine drawn on above paper cut-outs of poppies.
A pink and yellow balloon above a drawing of a keyboard.
A yellow balloon with a smiley sunshine drawn on above paper cut-outs of poppies. Light is shown to create shadows.

Do please share on our social media at #NCmaking, we absolutely love to see what you’ve all made.

Tips at home:

• Make a clear open space to work on the table or floor.
• It might be a good idea not to use your best wooly clothes and accessories.
• Some children might need support or supervision.

This activity was created by Play and Learn Facilitator, Milee Lee

Getting to know us: Play and Learn Team

A close-up image of Milee Lee facing towards the camera.

Vote for Us! Kids in Museums most Family Friendly Museum Award

If you have enjoyed taking part in any of our digital family activities we would really appreciate you shouting about it! Nominations are open for ‘Kids in Museums:Family Friendly Museum Award 2021”. You can place your vote here. Thank you!

Share Your Feedback, complete our Family Survey

Working digitally, means we miss all those lovely conversations we would usually have with you, sharing ideas, listening, and seeing how you respond to our workshops. It is difficult to get feedback when we don't see you and this would really help.

The survey takes about 10 mins or less to complete and it will really help our team to understand more about what you thought ready for when we are back together at Nottingham Contemporary. You can fill out our survey by clicking here.

We'd love to hear what you think.

Your support is vital

A small one-off or regular donation helps us present free exhibitions, events and education programmes across the city, up and down the UK, and around the world.

Cookie Consent