by Merle Dieterich, passionate mom and businesswoman whose 2 beautiful children, Lerato and Marvin never cease to amaze and teach her about what counts. You’ll find her at

I was taken slightly off guard when my son asked me on Friday afternoon if he could make his own Makarapa for the soccer World Cup. I didn’t  have a clue where to start but did what I usually do when I feel clueless, turn to the internet.  Here  I found a couple of ideas about how to begin.

First step was acquiring a protective helmet which we found at one of our local hardware stores. Then a few calls to paint stores confirmed that we would use water based acrylic paint to paint on the plastic. I have subsequently learnt that one can first spray plastic primer on the helmet to prevent the paint from peeling but we didn’t do this.

My kids suggested they use white board markers to draw their initial design ( brilliant suggestion!)   Armed with the helmets,  markers, paint and protective clothing, the work began – designing, drawing and painting

Younger children  can simply decorate the helmet with paint, my 8 yr old  daughter also used spray paint but my son was determined to create a more elaborate sculpture. After some experimentation we  discovered that we could melt, cut and mould the plastic with our gas cooker.  Please note this  does require a lot of supervision and the right tools.  Here are some suggestions:

– use a gas lighter or  blow torch  to melt the plastic slightly ( not more than – 5-10sec)
– make sure you have cloth gloves or a cloth to protect your hands from the heat
– use  a small serrated edge knife to cut through the plastic. (we used the one we  cut tomatoes with),
– once cut and slightly soft you mould the plastic to the shape you want it.

And here we have  the proud artists displaying their work!

It was all so exciting, my son couldn’t stop. He transformed an old pair of rubber sandals, painted a vuvuzela and has ordered some more helmets to keep him busy for the next 2 weeks. The only thing we haven’t figured out yet  is what varnish to use as a fixative, as the acrylic paint does tend to peel.

Now its your turn to help your children make Makarapas and win a prize! Every child who makes one is a winner on Jozikids.
Just send us  a photo of your childwearing their own homemade markarapa to : , we will publish the photo and send you the prize.

P.S. We subsequently bought a Gripseal wood sealant which we coated the finished helmets with to prevent peeling.  You can also spray a plastic primer  on the helmet before painting. We found one called Sprayon vinyl paint at Jack’s Paint.

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