Archive for November, 2008

November 23, 2008

We’ve Got Stuff … Big Stuff

Like most kids, my kids love to make things. They especially like to make something new out of something old. Sometimes their projects involve power tools and lots of dust-making in the shop with Mr. Enigma, and other times they just require simple materials.

The constant state of making means that we throw almost nothing away. That old egg beater would make a perfect laser blaster on a space ship, dontcha know! Of course, that means you must keep a lot of parts lying about just waiting to be recycled into something cool.

box of parts

It also means we have to keep our eyes peeled for treasures wherever we go. In fact, my son, The Duke, has become quite the diamond-in-the-rough finder. “Mommy, look what I got!” is a common phrase here on Sundays, the day before trash pickup on our street. Just a few weeks ago he came home with a nice, old, rusty, electric double burner.

“What do you want that for?” I asked.

“I’m gonna take it apart.”

You can’t argue with that, but you can argue with keeping someone else’s old, rusty, food-encrusted burner in your house. So we put it on our “3-season porch,” and the Duke agreed that after he took it apart, we’d throw it all away. So couple of nights ago, he took it apart, and we’ve tossed the sharp and nasty bits. But even the grownups realized we couldn’t throw it all away. Look at these burners. Can’t you see them on a robot? Danger, Will Robinson!

old burners

I love the kids’ projects not only because every one of them is unique, but also because the kids bring so much excitement, creativity, and joy to the table (or backyard, or shop) every time. The result is a creation straight out of their imaginations.

Take this contraption, for example. It’s a DNA scrambler, but I’m sure you knew that. And I’m sure you knew it wouldn’t work without the hat.

what is it?

Basically, you use the scrambler to turn yourself into another creature. You select the creature (some animals, some magical, some mythical, some newly imagined) from the table of creatures. Next, you use the blue dial to set the size of the creature, and then a bunch of other stuff happens with lights and menus and stuff like that (use your imagination, please!), and then you turn into that creature.

A few weeks ago, The Duke made the scrambler over the course of a couple of evenings. Mr. Enigma was working in the shop, and the Duke went in to check it out. The next thing you know, he had decided to make his own project. (A common occurrence when Mr. Enigma is noodling around in the shop.) The first night, the Duke planned out what he would make and started drawing the different creatures on the hardboard. He finished about half the grid that first night. Then he put it down and came back to it another night, when he asked me for some ideas for other creatures he could add to the grid. Once he had finished the grid, he and Mr. Enigma put the finishing touches on the hardboard, and then they made the hat.

And there you have a new, handmade, unique toy. Lots of imagination went into it, and lots of imagination is required to play with it.
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