Solar power is a pretty fascinating tool to incorporate into a
kid-friendly craft. This one is especially neat because you can actually capture the sun in a jar and bring it inside! Making your own solar lamp by recycling glass jars is both fun and functional. The only thing you’ll need to buy is an inexpensive solar lantern, often found in the dollar section of hardware stores, and a can of frosted glass spray paint.
In this tutorial, you’ll learn two variations to this recycled craft. In the first, you’ll see how a flip-top glass jar can be easily transformed into a rechargeable solar lamp in just a few steps. Additionally, we’ll show you how to adapt the lid of a Mason jar to be solar-ready, so that you can recycle even more materials for this project. The Mason jar variation requires sharp scissors, so it’s a good alternative for older kids. Both variations of the solar lamp are equally attractive and effective, and it would be fun to have a collection of solar lamps using different styles of jars.
This is a fun project to make with your child as a “nightlight” for their bedroom. Get them thinking about how to use recycled materials and inexpensive objects in different ways. You can also use this craft as an opportunity to teach them about the differences between solar and other sources of energy. Maybe you’ll even want to ask your little helper if you can still call it a night light if it’s powered by the daytime sun!
1. Gather your supplies.
- Glass jar with a flip top lid
- Solar lantern
- Batteries (if needed)
- Frosted glass spray paint
For the Mason jar variation, you will also need:
- Quart or larger wide-mouth Mason jar and ring
- Clear plastic food container or lid
2. Frost your jars.
Paint the outside of your jar with a light coat of frosted glass spray paint. As with all spray paint projects, be sure to do this outside or in a well-ventilated area. Allow the paint to dry completely before you move on to the next step (overnight is best).
3. Disassemble the solar lantern.
Unscrew the solar panel and bulb portion of your lantern from the housing and/or stake. This may require a screw driver, based on the style of the solar lantern you’re using, but both of the ones shown here were easily disassembled without additional tools.
4. Affix the solar panel.
Use a strong adhesive to glue the solar panel to the underside of the jar lid, so that the solar panel faces up to the top of the jar.
5. Assemble your new solar lamp.
Once the spray paint and glue have dried, reassemble your flip-top jar with its new solar-powered lid. Your solar lamp is now ready to be charged!
6. Mason Jar Variation
You can easily adapt the lid of a Mason jar to make this project work. Using a clear plastic food container (in this case, the lid from a take-out dish), use the jar ring to trace a circle and cut out a piece of plastic just slightly smaller than the ring. This will become your new jar “lid.” Glue the solar panel to the underside of the plastic “lid.”
7. Assemble the Mason jar lamp.
Once the paint and glue have dried, screw your new lid onto the top of your Mason jar. Voila, solar lamp!
8. Harness the power of the sun.
Set your solar lamp, solar panel up, in a sunny spot for several hours to charge.
9. Light it up.
Once the sun has set, turn on your solar lamp and enjoy its cool glow!
Images via Cat DiStasio for Inhabitots.