Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cardboard Fire Station

Making believe is the gist of his whole life and he cannot so much as take a walk except in character.
Robert Louis Stevenson

A couple of years ago when Ethan said he wanted to build a fire station, I thought he was talking about a little one for his numerous fire engines. When he clarified that he wanted one that he could fit in, I was not sure where to start.

Inspiration came when we realized we could use his loft bed for the frame and the box from our new wagon for the walls. Curtains the he could open and close, a door through which the fire engines could come and go, and door knobs for the front door helped complete his vision.

One of the things I love about cardboard structures is that they are temporary, so when the kids have a new interest or want a new challenge, the box can be modified, stored or just recycled. To make these transitions easier, I like to use Velcro Cable Ties when attaching the cardboard to furniture like loft beds and table legs. They make it easy to attach and detach cardboard without ruining the furniture or the box. I did not take detail photographs at the time, but you can see the small black straps along the sides and under the main door of our fire station.

What always amazes me (a perfectionist) when creating things like this, with and for Ethan, is how much his imagination will take over to fill in the gaps, look past the inconsistencies in scale and smooth over the flaws in construction. I have to remind myself that it is more important to make it, than to make it perfect.

Now I implore you to go collect the props, set the stage, and open the curtain to your child's world of make believe.

For more creative cardboard project ideas, click here.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

A Different Kind of Valentine

A couple of Februaries ago, a tree branch stood on a bookcase in our living room. Little red and pink hearts, on white ribbon swung from it. It was a Valentines Day decoration, of course. But it was something a bit more than just colored hearts and ribbon.

Each heart had a message on it. They were love notes for the whole family. Encouraging words, thoughts of thankfulness and simply things we liked about each other. In a few minutes time, we could remind one another of the special love we share. A love that is bigger than candy conversation hearts and boxes of chocolate (although those things are quite nice too).

You can incorporate this idea into your own family's celebration of Valentines Day. A simple tree branch can be found in your yard, or bought at a florist shop. Just make sure it has plenty of space to hang your hearts.

The notes can be hung every day for each member of the family, or you could choose one person each day to shower with love. Because they are small, these notes can also be easily saved for years to come as a special reminder of Valentines Day that year. You can even put them in that shoe box your child decorated to keep all his valentines in. Or if space is an issue, a Ziploc bag will work fine. The most important thing is remembering those special words you shared with one another.

We'd love to see your tree and hear about how your family added this idea to your Valentines Day celebrations.