All About Mermaids
Long before The Little Mermaid fairytale there has been a fascination with mermaids. The name comes from mere (the sea) and maid (a girl or woman) and sailors have imagined they’ve spotted them for thousands of years. Mermaids are, of course, as real as the mythical mermen. Still, it’s fun to pretend. Families can turn July into an under-the-sea extravaganza with crafts and food to fit the theme.
Clam Cookies: Ingredients: pink frosting, round cookies, yogurt-covered nuts or round white candies, small tube of black frosting.
For each “clam,” spread a layer of frosting on one cookie then put a piece of candy in the center. Form the top of the clam by placing a second cookie at an angle. To make the top cookie stay in place, you will need to anchor it in frosting. Then squeeze black frosting onto each cookie for eyes.
Seaweed on a Stick: String green grapes onto long bamboo skewers to serve up some healthy “seaweed” snacks. Remove the grapes for kids young enough to hurt themselves with skewers.
Mermaid/ Merman Race: Have each child step into a large plastic trash bag. Tie one streamer around the top to secure the bag and another around their ankles to create a fish tail. They can hop toward the finish line or lie down and “swim” toward a small prize.
Treasure Hunt: Fill a large bucket with sand and bury small inexpensive treasures. Blindfold each child and let them dig with a plastic shovel to find a prize. Let the children take several turns apiece. Then they can decorate their own “treasure chests” out of a shoebox to keep their prizes safe.
Ariel, Before and After
Let children discover what happened to Ariel both before and after the events from the movie that made her famous. In The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, we see her meet Flounder and Sebastian and discover her love of music. Then kids can get to know Ariel’s daughter Melody in Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. Both are available on Netflix and can be purchased as a set.
A Little Mermaid Bling: Georgia artist Genevieve Gail Swinford has come up with a template for a mermaid crown. Print it out and let your princess go to town with glitter, beads or buttons. Find it at genevievegail.blogspot.com. Just type “crown template” into the search box.
Fishy Friends: For a simple fish, cut a triangle mouth out of a white paper plate. Then create a tail by attaching the cutout piece to the back of the plate with glue or a stapler. Children can draw an eye then paint their fish or create designs with markers.
There are lots of variations online. One idea is let young crafters add tiny squares of tissue to make vibrantly colored fish. They can also add glitter or fabric along with whatever embellishments you might have on hand.
Paper Towel Mermaids: These mermaids have personality! Parents will need to do a little prep work first. Flatten the bottom half of a paper towel tube, leaving the top half round for the mermaid’s body. Cut off the bottom fourth of the tube and cut it into the shape of a fin. Then cut the bottom of your tube into a V shape and staple the fin into the V.
Now it’s time for your child to add a face and decorate their new mermaid friend with paints, glitter, and fabric scraps. Hair can be fashioned from felt or yarn.
For more detailed instructions, go to thecrafttrain.com and type “tube mermaids” into the search box.
More Fun with Glitter and Glue Here are some websites where we found ideas. Check them
out for more summer fun. mykidcraft.com; thecrafttrain.com; genevievegail.blogspot.com.
Young mermaid fans will be glad to know that Disney’s famous redhead isn’t the only mermaid in the sea. Are your kids fascinated by the idea of creatures who are half human and half fish? There are lots of mermaid stories from cultures around the world. One legend holds that Alexander the Great’s half sister dived into the sea and turned into a mermaid. Storytellers say that she’d stop passing sailors to ask if her brother was alive and well. If they answered that he was ruling still, she would let the sailors pass. If their answer didn’t please her, that meant trouble for their ship.
Some believe that the first mermaidstory was that of the Syrian goddess Atargatis who longed to become a fish, escaping into the waters at the end of a sad romance. It’s said that her wish wasn’t possible because of her great beauty.Being as lovely as she was, she had to remain part woman.
Christopher Columbus is among the explorers who reported mermaid sightings. Later it was thought that the “mermaids” must have been manatees or other creatures of the sea. Maybe that’s why Columbus wrote in his log that the mermaids weren’t as attractive as storiesled people to believe.
And, of course, there’s the Hans Christian Anderson story on which Disney based the film. Kids might enjoy seeing how the stories differ. But parents should be warned that the original is darker than the Disney version.
Meet Some Florida Mermaids
The mermaids are still swimming at Weeki Wachee Springs, the iconic tourist attraction, now a state park, about an hour north of Tampa. Families can also enjoy a spring-fed water park, take in an animal show and go on a riverboat cruise.
The attraction got its start in the 1940s when a former Navy SEALS trainer recruited pretty girls and taught them underwater tricks such as dancing and eating bananas. The attraction was later purchased by ABC which built the current theater embedded into the side of the spring, sixteen feet below the surface.
Find out more at weekiwachee.com.
Even if you can’t make it to the park, your child can write a letter to a mermaid and ask questions about their underwater lives. Each child will get a letter back along with an autographed photo. Details are on the website. Kids can read about different mermaids and choose their favorite one.