Sunday, January 18, 2015

8:17 PM
In a recent moment of inspired parenting my husband ordered himself a book entitled Dad's Book of Awesome Projects. For the last two weekends, while I have been blissfully at yoga, he and the kids have pored through the book for ideas, schlepped to the hardware store to secure the necessary items, and used all manner of tools and colorful duct tape to construct and personalize two cool new toys from scratch. Specifically, these three sets of industrious hands have built:

Bows and Arrows
These bows and arrows are actually pretty legitimate - so much so that we had to add foam to the tips of the arrows to blunt the impact of any unintended impalement. Once the kids got the hang of threading the arrows and the physics of shooting, the dog was in trouble (just kidding!). This is definitely an outside toy - one that teaches focus, hand-eye coordination, and physics, all while instilling a sense of self-sufficiency and adventure.

Materials: 1/2-inch PVC pipe; twine; small wooden dowels; pencil eraser tips; duct tape, foam.

Tools: Pipe cutter; hacksaw; scissors.

Basic Instructions - Bow: Cut a small groove into the ends of the PVC pipe. Tie the twine to one end of the PVC, pull it tight and then tie the twine to the other end. Duct tape a "handle" to the middle of the PVC pipe. 

Basic Instructions - Arrow: Cut a small wooden dowel in half and notch one end so that the twine fits into the groove. Attach a pencil eraser tip or a piece of foam to one end of the "arrow".

Balance Boards
Balance boards are great for improving balance and coordination and are a fun indoor toy to help get the energy out on cold, winter days. A longer board is easier to balance and allows for a fun "roll action". The shorter the board and the larger the pipe - the more difficult it is to balance, so design appropriately!

Materials: One 6x8 board; one piece of PVC pipe; lots of colorful duct tape for board personalization.

Tools: Saw; sand paper; scissors.

Basic Instructions: Cut the board to the desired length and sand corners. Decorate the board with duct tape. Cut PVC pipe to desired length. Try to balance with both edges of the board in the air at the same time.


These toys proved simple to make (meaning the kids were able to maintain focus and interest in the process), novel enough to capture the kid's attention for multiple hours, and dangerous enough to be thrilling and fun. Best of all, the skills they learned in making and then playing with these toys are great life skills that will last far beyond the lifespan of these particular toys and cross-over into many other aspects of their lives.

So a shout out to my awesome husband for engaging the kids in such cool projects these last two weekends and letting me enjoy two deeply-needed yoga classes!