Sunday, October 13, 2013

How to make a cardboard spaceship

Life is Good: we built a rocket ship!

There have been two unwavering obsessions in our house for the past couple of years...dinosaurs and space. So with the big kid turning five, we decided a space-themed birthday party sounded...wait for it..."out of this world"!

I don't like to feel rushed or stressed about anything, but especially when it comes to something that should be enjoyable like a birthday party, so I began party prep a couple of months in advance. I know, I know. This might sound crazy to a lot of people, but it is the way I get things done and stay sane and enjoy the process. I don't want birthday party prep to take away from time spent together, so starting so far ahead guaranteed that. We didn't work on party prep every day for two months-- just every once in a while. And this year, the big kid helped me make a lot of the decorations, so I felt like I was teaching him to plan ahead and not be a procrastinator. It also extended the celebration, in a way. He really enjoyed brainstorming ideas and making things. And I loved the time we spent together.

So remember how I said that I don't like to do things last minute? Well, the big kid decided that we needed a rocket ship just a couple of days before the party. And frankly, I thought it was a great idea! But with only a few days to make it, bake cupcakes and finish all of the final preparations, my eyes bugged out and my brow furrowed wondering when I was going to make that happen!

I called our grocery store and asked if they had any big boxes that I could have. They did and the size they described sounded like I only needed two, but I asked my husband to grab a few extra in case I made a mistake with one. 

Well, when he got home, the boxes were much smaller than described on the phone. BUT! He had five of them. A few hours later, he left on a business trip, so I knew that I didn't have time to run around looking for a bigger box and I needed to make this work. 

First, I taped all of the boxes together with shipping tape. Then, I gathered together scraps of paper and some black electrical tape and then looked around the house for anything else that looked like it could be used for a rocket ship gadget or gizmo.

I cut a lot of pieces of paper into geometric shapes--mostly squares and rectangles with a few triangles. I figured those would make good "buttons".

I had some paper circles in my scrap box, so I decided to make those into "dials" and "gauges". But of course, since I am not mechanical in the least,  I turned to the interweb for visual inspiration and found this nice example:

Thank you,!

I cut a hole in two of the boxes for "portals" so that the astronauts could see inner space. Then, I just started thinking about what might be inside of a rocket ship and wrote things like "Orbit" and "Eject" on a few pieces of paper. Then, I grabbed the glue stick and got to work!

Because of the size of the boxes, I had two sides of the "spaceship"...

As you can see, I added an old gift card to the right side. I thought the bar code looked technical. I found some other bar codes on packaging and put those on the left side. The black electrical tape (that probably cost a dollar or less) was what made everything look like a command center, though. And the tape made making the whole thing easy and go really quickly!

If I had planned on this, I could have spent HOURS (I mean, HOURS!) perfecting it. But gratefully, I could only devote about two hours or so to it. I had to accept that it was all it needed to be when the big kid jumped for joy at the sight of it.

Originally (when I thought I would be using one, big box), I had planned to paint the front of it, but because I had to tape five "apple" boxes together, I decided to use poster board to create the front of the rocket. I freehanded everything because I am too impatient for rulers and frankly, I just like the imperfection of doing things myself. It "keeps me honest" and reminds me that I am oh, so flawed. 

In the pic above, you can see the cardboard boxes behind the posterboard. I would have added stars to the black "space" background, but the big kid asked me not to do so.  He liked it just the way it was. Sigh.

I found a couple of blank CD holders that I thought looked like steering apparatuses (or video game joysticks?) so I taped them on, but they didn't last long up against one particular party guest...

But, no worries! They are kids, after all! And what's a party without some destruction? ; )

The kids at the party thought it was fun and played with it a little. I thought that we would keep it around for a week or two and then it would be something surprising for the trash men to take away. But, no. Can you believe that five months later, these kids still want to play with their cardboard rocketship? We have been to every planet at least fifty times. Somehow, we always have to stop on Mars.

Every time I mention that it might be time to get rid of the thing, the big kid begs me to keep it just a little longer because "we have adventures to go on!". Thank goodness we have space for it (no pun intended) and enough room in a closet when we need to hide it out of view.

This rocketship is one of those things that I hope my kids will remember when they are all grown up. I hope that they will remember that I was the kind of mama who respected her kids' ideas and did what I could to make stuff happen. I hope they will grow up feeling like if they can think it, that they can do it. I hope they come to believe that enjoyment doesn't have to come from expensive things but rather, ordinary stuff around the house that you can make into extraordinary things. And that your imagination can take you anywhere. Absolutely anywhere.

And I hope that they will remember that I was always up for fun and an adventure into space.

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