I love that moment when inspiration works its magic, and a cool idea enters your head. In this case, I saw a great exhibition of Frida Kahlo’s work at the AGO, and in the gift shop were some bottle cap magnets with her image inside (see photo at the end of this post). I started thinking about the zillions of bottle caps I’ve collected, and how cool it would be to fill them with images of art to create a matching game. Most kids do end up playing a variety of matching/memory games when they’re young, and making their own would be awesome.
- bottle caps – from beer or pop bottles
- 2 copies of each printed image being used
- Mod Podge, or white glue and sealer
- paint brush
- 1″ circle punch or a quarter
- needle nose pliers
- heat gun
- small paper cup
1. Matching games are a great way for kids to give their memory a workout. Any theme can work eg. colours, shapes, letters, animals, characters from favorite movies, TV shows, books, etc. A collection of random images works well too. I used images of art because for older kids, it’s a great way to learn a little bit about artists and their work. The game could be accompanied by a paper with a copy of the images used in the bottle caps, along with the artists’ names, and information about the art work.
Once you’ve chosen a theme, make sure to print each image twice, aiming for a size that will fit nicely inside a bottle cap, which is 1 inch in diameter. The number of caps you choose to make for the game is up to you. We made just over 40. Keep in mind, the tops of the bottle caps need be identical, otherwise you’ll have kids memorizing that Picasso is under Budweiser, and Monet is under Heineken!
To cut out the images, you can use a 1 inch circle punch. If you don’t have one, you can position a quarter on the image, trace around it with a pencil and cut it out by hand, which is what we did.
Tip: The best way to do this is to hold the quarter under the paper and either use a light table, or hold it above a flash light for the same effect. This allows you to easily see what part of the picture you’re including.
Carefully flip it over without moving the quarter, and trace around it using a pencil. This does need to be done on the back so the pencil doesn’t show.
Cut it out. Remember to capture the same area on the second image, so it’s easy to match them in the game.
2. The plastic liners inside the bottle caps need to be removed, and the best way to do this is with a heat gun. Hold the heat gun about an inch away from the inside of the bottle cap, and gently move it around for about 10-15 seconds. Pick it up using a cloth so you don’t burn your fingers, and pull out the liner using needle nose pliers. Make sure you have extra bottle caps because it takes a few tries to figure out how long to heat the liner so that it pulls out easily. If it’s heated too much, it turns into a sticky mess that’s difficult to remove. You can find information on the internet about a second option, which is boiling bottle caps to remove the liners.
3. Use Mod Podge to glue images inside the bottle caps by applying with a paint brush to the back of the paper, and pressing them inside. Allow to dry for about 15 minutes. Resin can cause colours to run, so apply Mod Podge on top of the image as well, in order to seal it. Many sites recommend using several layers, so we applied three, waiting for each application to dry thoroughly in between. At this point, the bottle caps are ready to be used in a matching game. Resin is not necessary, just something I was really looking forward to working with for the first time.
3. I bought Pebeo’s Gedeo Crystal Resin Kit, which worked beautifully. It simply involves mixing a resin with a hardener, gently stirring to avoid making bubbles, and once clear, pouring the resin into the caps.
I used a small paper cup to mix in, because it was easy to create a spout for easy pouring. The amount of resin you pour into the cap is up to you, as long as the image is completely covered.
Allow to dry undisturbed for 24 hours.
How to play? This matching game is like any other, where children take turns turning over two caps at a time, flipping them back over, and trying their best to remember what was where so they can form as many pairs as they can. The one with the most pairs at the end wins the game.
The bottle caps can be stored in a nice box or fabric bag, and also make a great gift…it’s that time of year.
Here’s what inspired this project, from the Art Gallery of Ontario gift shop: