Remember the old black and white movies with the "little rascals"? It's my personal belief that much of the technology we experienced in the 50's and 60's was due to the fact that during the depression and through the 40's children were "forced" by poverty to develop strong creative minds. I remember laughing as the little rascals built clubhouses, rickety skateboards and push cars. All of their creations were made from trash they found lurking around the house or some junk yard.
My experience also assures me that creative children are "happier". I personally believe that when we are taught to create - it sparks the part of our brain that involves hope. We are more confident because we have proven to ourselves that if we need something and can't afford it - we can probably make something that will do.
Today's tip involves free cardboard. Make a quick trip to any large appliance store and ask for free boxes. There are several things you can do with these boxes. One summer my daughter and her boyfriend made a full size police car for our church to use during VBS. They used a full size refrigerator box and attached several small ones to it. Once it was at the the church they also attached a small wooden bench inside. They had drawn dials, connected a steering wheel and a flashing light on top. While the project belonged to my daughter, the entire family was swept into the flow of creative juices. When it was painted we were amazed at the creation and detail. It actually looked like a pint size police car complete with top, windows and swinging doors. (I've looked for pictures but I think my daughter has them)
Also, did you know that larger pieces of cardboard will slide down a grass hill much like sledding on snow? When my children were about 5 we were at my parents. My Dad was cutting up large boxes to put in the trash. One of the children grabbed a piece and took it to the top of a ten foot slope. Not only did he slide down the hill, but he did a twisty at the end. For the next three hours all three children had the fun of sledding without worrying about freezing toes and coats. And the best part....it didn't hurt the grass!
Cardboard boxes can be made into clubhouses, personal tents, bird houses and appliances for a toddler kitchen - like a stove and counter top. My son's personal favorite was to take a box and cut one side and half of the other completely off. He would color or paint the outside to look like a race car. I'd take two pieces of twine or two belts and make shoulder straps. The straps would then hook to the box. He now had a race car hanging from his shoulders. For hours he would run around the house or play in the yard. He even discovered how to hang it from his tricycle making it the "coolest" car.
In the 70's the biggest rage was to take two pieces of cardboard and clothespin or duct tape them to the spokes of your bicycle. It makes a cool sound when you're riding down the road.
Have a fun summer!