Maker Dad, Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects

As my daughter has grown, we’ve moved up from simple paper and glue crafts to working through more involved project books. I’m now always on the lookout for good project books suitable for the whole family. One of our favorites that we’ve found is Mad Professor, by Mark Frauenfelder. We’ve done several of the projects, such as the Shrunken Head, Old Tyme Robot, and Mini Glideabout, which the kids loved, but the dog–not so much. 

Shrunken Head project from Mad Professor

Shrunken Head project from Mad Professor

Now Mark has a new book that we’re even more excited about, called Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects. We’ve already completed our first project–astro ice cream. When I was young, I only remember completing a handful of projects from the project books that I had. Many were too complicated, used exotic chemicals, or were just plain boring. I’d pick the coolest ones (often repeating them) and then move on to something else.

When I flipped through Maker Dad with my daughter and asked her which projects she wanted to tackle, she said all of them! So did I! For a family project to work, everyone has to be interested and engaged, and this is where I think this book stands out. All of the projects seem challenging, educational, and fun for kids as well as parents.

We’re especially excited to make a Friendstrument – an instrument you play with a friend. We’ll be  sure to post our finished product. If you’re looking for a great family project book, be sure to check out Maker Dad.

Challenging the Dixie Cup Tower Record on RecordSetter.com

My daughter and I currently hold the world record for largest Dixie cup tower on RecordSetter.com. We unseated the previous record holder of 91 cups by stacking a 136 cup tower, only to blast it apart with our Nerf arsenal.  There are all sorts of records on RecordSetter.com, from the very serious to the downright bizarre. Examples include most catches juggling four balls while swimming, and most fiery bricks broken with one bare hand in 30 seconds while playing an electric guitar.

Anyone can create and upload a new record or challenge a current record. So what are you waiting for? Set your own record, or if you’d like, break ours!

Barbie Birthday Party Photobooth

Barbie Photobooth

My daughter’s birthday is just around the corner, and we’re making all the preparations for a Barbie-themed party. Party planning for girls of kindergarten age not being my specialty, my wife assigned me the task of building a Barbie toy box to be used as a photo booth. I love playing with cardboard, so this was a perfect task for me. In what was clearly a matter of fate, my neighbors had just bought a patio set and were discarding a huge cardboard box in their weekly trash pile. Upon closer look, it turned out to be three-ply cardboard. This is a cardboard aficionado’s dream come true! We’re talking cardboard that is quite possibly sturdier than the body of my compact car, and certainly far superior to the flimsy, run-of-the-mill cardboard that my son used to build this couch bridge.

Using two of my favorite tools, a jigsaw and a hot glue gun, I cut and refolded the box into a suitable shape and size. I finished it with some spray paint, taped some wrapping paper for the background, and cut out and glued some letters. Voila! An afternoon of work and now we’re open for business.

A Bird’s-Eye View: Scuttlecam

scuttlecamThe kids love to visit the seagulls that congregate in a local strip mall parking lot during fall and winter months. This year, we’re getting ready early, and we’ve concocted a crazy plan to get a much closer look at the seagulls without the threat of being pooped on or pecked at.
We made a paper mache seagull, attached it to the chassis of an old R/C car, and outfitted it with a small keychain camera. We aptly named our goofy creation the Scuttlecam, after the famously wacky seagull from The Little Mermaid.

Scuttle body Scuttle body2

Only a half-dozen or so seagulls were around for our first test run of the Scuttlecam, but we were still able to have some great fun and capture some video.

The seagulls definitely took an interest in the Scuttlecam. They were weary at first, but after a few minutes they seemed to warm up. As more and more seagulls arrive this fall, it should be even easier for the Scuttlecam to blend right into the crowd and get some great undercover video!

PA Cigar Box Festival at the York Emporium

IMG_6316We finally had the chance to attend the annual Pennsylvania Cigar Box Guitar Festival at the York Emporium, a fantastic used bookstore and curiosity shop. While the weather wasn’t the best, we still were able to see some amazingly hand-crafted cigar box guitars and hear some live music. Check out the Facebook page for more photos as well as video. I didn’t come home with a cigar box guitar, but that’s only because I’m hoping to make my own someday soon.

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We mainly came for the cigar box guitars, but made it a point to browse inside, too. While it’s super tough to browse a book store with two young, rambunctious kids, I was able to buy enough time to pick something out from a huge pile of old, digest-sized pulp science fiction magazines. I chose a copy of Fantastic from October, 1955, and I’m excited to read it.Fantastic IMG_6331 IMG_6325