Worth the Splurge

tape dispensor 1Exactly what are we looking at here? Perhaps this will help:

tape dispensor 2Still a bit strange? How about this?

tape dispensor 3That’s right. You’re looking at a tape dispenser with an attached tape drum. YES!

I don’t know about you, but for years I fought the tape dispenser drum battle. For some kids, ripping tape off a dispenser is not easy. They jerk the tape, causing the whole roll to fly out of the dispenser. Those nefarious drums would go missing too, chuckling gleefully in the shadows while we tried to rig up something with craft sticks or toothpicks shoved into bouncy balls. Inquires about “extra tape drums” were met with blank stares from office supply store clerks.

When I saw this in an office supply catalog in 2006, looking like a little DeLorean tape dispenser, I rejoiced.

historical reenactmentThen I ordered sixteen of them and never looked back. These dispensers are easy for kid to handle, there are no flying rolls of tape, no lost tape drums, and they are super easy to reload. You can get one from the Office Max catalog for $8.62. Absolutely worth the splurge!

P!V!C!

pvc cutterSay hello to my little friend! This PVC cutter is one of the most-loved items in my strange and bizarre box of outreach tools (also included – thunder tubes, egg timers, a train whistle, an overhead projector, and black eyeliner). Why?

Because PVC pipe is such a fantastic arts & crafts item. It’s cheap, it’s clean, it’s sturdy, it’s hollow so you can stick things in it. The only problem is that the 1/2″ PVC pipe I use only comes in 10-foot tubes. Enter the PVC cutter. It nips the PVC pipe down to just the right size.

pvc pipeI made my fantastic PVC discovery when I was racking my brain trying to find a cheap way to make 500 Harry Potter wands. The wands needed hollow centers for phoenix feathers, dragon heartstrings, and unicorn hair. I was thinking about bubble tea straws but they were just too fragile and short. Then one day, wandering through the hardware store, I landed in the plumbing section and my problems were solved! I was able to cut 12, 10″ PVC wands from each tube for a grand total of 15 cents a wand.

After stuffing the core of their wands, kids wrapped them with colored masking tape or brown masking tape. But wood patterned masking tape (or duct tape) would look fantastic as well.

If you’re looking for a few more Harry Potter ideas, check out this boggart and these wrist owls (scroll all the way to the bottom of the post to see an image of the wrist owls).

Since my amazing PVC discovery, I’ve used it in projects involving marionettes, a boom mic for a camera set, sturdy flower stems, stick horses, robotic arms, butterfly nets, and more traditional magic wands (like the one that accompanies this fabulous little magic set).