Live By The (Foam) Sword

crossed swordsEvery pirate needs a cutlass, every musketeer needs a saber, and every knight needs a sword! But the combination of kids and swords can get a bit… dicey. Someone always get dinged, bonked, poked, or conked.

So you need a sword that will hold up in battle but that won’t bruise on impact. Foam is usually the way to go but foam swords can get a little pricey and fall apart quickly.

I have a solution for you. Straight from the plumbing section of your local hardware store.

foam tubesIt’s tubular foam pipe insulator. Also called “that gray foam tube that gets wrapped around pipes.” It’s made out of polyethylene (the same stuff as pool noodles and kickboards). I use the 1/2″ diameter foam, which comes in 6′ tubes and costs 97 cents. You can cut it easily with scissors. I can get 3 good-sized (i.e. 20″ – 21″) swords out of 1 tube. That’s 32 cents a sword. Oh yeah.

You can wield the sword as a plain tube, or you can create a “hilt” by wrapping the base with colored masking tape. To reach the pinnacle of royalty, try hot gluing a large gemstone to the hilt as well.

hiltsPssst! If you’re looking for another amazing find in the plumbing section, check out this post. If you’re yearning for a cannon to go with that pirate sword, you can find it here. Looking for a dragon to adventure with? Click here!

Want Fries With That?

fast food gulp gulpIt’s flippin’ fun! This fast food restaurant will have you grilling like a pro and serving up some tasty shakes to your customers.

serving upWe read Fast Food! Gulp! Gulp! by Bernard Waber (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2001). Welcome to fast food town, where meals can be eaten in under 30 seconds and the menu reads like a rhyming list of dreams for fast food fanatics. The book cavorts at a mad dash until…the cook up and quits. She heads to a health food place to enjoy life at a slower pace.

Here’s a bird’s-eye view of the whole shebang:

birds eye viewAnd a view from the front!

zips

Before we get started, it’s important to note that we made two of everything food-related. 2 burgers with all the toppings, 2 servings of fries, 2 pickles, 2 shakes, 2 straws, and 2 bags for your customers to take their orders home!

For the restaurant part, you’ll need:

  • 1 large box (mine was 16.5″ x 12″ x 6″)
  • 1 smaller box (mine was 9” x 4 ½” X 4 ½”)
  • 1, 6 – 8oz plastic cup
  • A selection of colored masking tape
  • Strips of yellow and red cellophane
  • 4 jumbo craft sticks
  • 1 large strip of silver poster board (approximately 8″ x 1.25″)
  • A menu and sign template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • 1 paper visor (I bought mine online at Discount School Supply)
  • 2 white paper bags
  • 1 small strip of silver poster board (approximately 7.75″ x 1″)
  • 1 sparkle stem
  • 1 square of silver poster board (approximately 2.5″ x 2.5″)
  • Scissors, tape, hot glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating

For the food, you’ll need:

  • Felt for various “burger” colors: tan for buns, brown for patty, yellow for cheese, red for tomato, and green for lettuce
  • Multiple strips of yellow construction paper (approximately 0.5″ X 3.25″)
  • 2 pieces of green craft foam for pickles
  • 2, 6 – 8 oz. paper cups
  • A selection of dot stickers
  • 2 straws
  • 2 handfuls of polyester fill
  • 2 pipe cleaners, 1 brown & 1 pink

The first step is to decorate the large box and the small box with the colored tape (I went for a single red line around the boxes). Then, you’ll want to hot glue the smaller box to the surface of the large box, right in a corner. Finish by hot gluing the plastic cup inside it.

box and cupDirectly behind the box goes the “grill.” First, tape your strips of yellow and red cellophane to the box’s surface. I had great success with twisting the strips of cellophane to add a little “flame” texture.

flame twists

Then I wrapped the craft sticks in black masking tape, and hot glued them on top of the cellophane. Some kids decided to leave the craft sticks brown, or just colored them with markers. It all looked great!

grillNext comes the milkshake faucet, which is the large strip of silver poster board, curved and taped inside the box.

faucetNow for signs! Color the menu and signs template and attach to the front (or the sides, depending on the size of your box).

menu and signsThe milkshake buttons go on the back of the small box, by the faucet. If your box is too small, you can attach them to the back of the larger box, or embed them in the top of the counter.

milkshake buttonsSince you’re already in a coloring frenzy, this is a good time to decorate your visor and your paper bags. To make the bags easier to open and close, I cut off the tops, resulting in a bag that was 6.5″ high.

Now for cooking implements! To make the french fry tongs, simply fold the small strip of silver poster board in half. To make the spatula, fold the sparkle stem in half and tape to the back of the silver poster board square. Flip it over, then bend the sparkle stem slightly upwards to finish. This spatula is kid-tested. It does flip the burgers!

spatula altWe prepped the burger materials in advance (and dotted the top bun with a brown Sharpie marker):

burger partsThen piled them up to create the ultimate burger!

burgerTo make crinkle fries, accordion-fold the strips of yellow construction paper and drop them in the plastic cup to “cook.” You’ll definitely want to “crinkle” the fries, otherwise the tongs won’t pick them up. And don’t forget the pickle (a pickle-shaped piece of green craft foam, with lines drawn in with markers).

pickleFinally, milkshakes. Start by decorating the paper cups with dot stickers. Then, shorten the drinking straws so they fit better in the cups. I cut 0.75″ off the top, and 1.25″ off the bottom of each straw. To create a flavored shake, roll the polyester foam between your palms (like you’re making a clay snake). Then wrap the pipe cleaner around it in a loose spiral, and drop it in the cup.

shake stepsPop in the straw and you’re done!

milkshakeLooking to round out your meal with some fruits and veggies? Check out our fabulous produce stand here.