We love building towers, castles, and other structures with Dixie Cups. We even currently hold the world record on recordsetter.com for the largest Dixie Cup triangle. The very best part about building with Dixie Cups, however, is the demolition!
Forget Elf on a Shelf. Leprechauns are the original mischievous pranksters. Take Lucky—when he’s not cobbling shoes or hiding gold treasure, you can bet he’s out there playing tricks on unsuspecting citizens. One year, he turned most everything in our family room upside down. We knew it had to be him because the inside of our toilet bowls were suspiciously bright green!
While his presence can be annoying, it does have its advantages. You see, Lucky never hides his entire treasure at the end of a rainbow. He always reserves a few gold coins and some Lucky Charms to hide for the kids. I think he does this to mess with the Easter Bunny, but that’s just my theory.
Lucky can stop by your house this year, too! Just grab some Lucky Charms and carefully cut him out of the box. I made a stand for mine by decorating a cardboard toilet paper tube and taping him to the inside edge.
Pick out some of the marshmallow charms (they’re magically delicious!) and make some little treasure bags to hide on St. Patrick’s Day before Lucky’s grand appearance. Sure, the kids will notice that he’s missing from the box long before then, but that will just add to the suspense.
For wee little ones, try leaving some rainbow streamers or a trail of clover confetti leading to your treasures to make them easier to find. Remember, you don’t have to make a daily commitment with this like you do Elf on a Shelf, though you certainly could if you’re into that. The investment is basically nil, especially if anyone in your family enjoys eating Lucky Charms! If Lucky visits your home, please send some photos my way so I can post them here!
The latest Cool Tools podcast has just been released, and I am extremely humbled and honored to be the featured guest. It was so exciting to speak about several of my favorite and most fun tools with hosts Kevin Kelly and Mark Frauenfelder. We discussed juggling balls, kite winders, a caricature drawing guide, and more!
The podcast is part of the fantastic Cool Tools web site, which features a uniquely wonderful tool each weekday. I love how the site focuses on user-generated reviews of tried and tested tools that people are passionate about.
In late 2013, Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities, was announced. It’s a mammoth paperback companion book to Cool Tools, featuring 10 years of reviews featured on the site. Unable to ignore my enthusiasm about the upcoming book, my wife immediately pre-ordered it for me as a gift, and I’ve been happily perusing its giant pages ever since.
You can download the latest Cool Tools podcast to your device via iTunes, or listen directly from the Cool Tools website.
Through some random play in the kitchen, we stumbled upon the fun that is launching toy tops from a pot lid. It still hasn’t gotten old.
Sometimes being trapped indoors can inspire some great bouts of creative play. Last Saturday was one of those days. The temperature was in the negatives, a storm that locals were already calling the wrath of Elsa was headed our way, and we weren’t about to go anywhere. I was in need of some indoor activities to occupy both the kids and myself, so I turned to the ever-growing stash of cardboard paper towel and toilet paper tubes that I’ve been saving. There never has been a real plan for this pile of trash, but I clung to the idea that eventually I’d think of something fun to do with them. A marble wall run turned out to be the perfect idea for a day of inside play.
With a scant plan in place, we excitedly grabbed our cardboard tubes and painter’s tape and went to town securing tubes to the wall. The next time we try this, we’ll definitely start by sketching out a detailed plan on paper, but sometimes it’s just more fun to jump right in.
If you’re working with a combination of clumsy hands and walls that you’d rather not wreck, I suggest using FrogTape Delicate Surface. Its adhesion is not as great as other tape, but it won’t peel off your wall paint either. If you’re not too concerned with your wall’s well-being, then any painter’s tape should do the job.
In order to keep young minds interested, work backwards and be sure to do LOTS of testing each step of the way. We used a bell that came with a board game so we could hear a satisfying ding at the end of every successful run. If you don’t have a bell, try finding something else that makes a fun sound, like a toy xylophone or drum, or even a tin can.
The rest of the build is pretty straight forward and limited only by your imagination, although you won’t get very far without having to do some problem-solving.
For instance, we had to figure out how exactly to get the marble to drop from one tube into the next, something we initially overlooked. Cutting them in half lengthwise, like a half-pipe, made for a simple drop from chute to chute, but we found the tubes were much harder to tape to the wall that way. Instead, we cut out small notches for the marbles to pass through. We also had to plug the end of a few tubes to stop speeding marbles from launching out the other side.
You can go crazy with incorporating other light objects into the design. We thought about using some kitchen funnels but our marbles wouldn’t fit through the small holes, so we improvised with a plastic milk jug and styrofoam coffee cup. We ended up liking these recycled items way better.
At one point, while my son and I were playing, we noticed that my daughter had ditched us. I figured that she hit her limit and finally got bored with the project. I was wrong! As it turns out, she left to design her own marble run without any help! I love the design she came up with, and how she sometimes has to jiggle one of the tubes when a marble gets stuck. A little more tweaking should solve that problem. This was a super fun project, and I think would appeal to all ages. I sure had fun! If you try it, please send some pictures our way!
I recently wrote about my experience learning to juggle. I hope it has inspired someone out there to give it a try. Please let me know if you do! I still have a lot I’d like to learn juggling three and four balls, but I’ve also become curious about juggling clubs, which are bigger and flashier. While I’m at it, I also want to learn how to unicycle, but I’m afraid that my family may get fed up with too many circus shenanigans at once.
While juggling clubs are a natural progression, I’ve been reluctant to run out and buy a nice set of them because I still have a ton to learn with juggling balls. Fortunately, I found some great online instructions to make your own DIY juggling clubs. They are made almost entirely from common household items such as empty soda bottles, duct tape, and tennis balls. I scrounged up the majority of materials at home, and only needed to buy some rivets and wooden dowels.
They look like they’ll do a great job of giving me a feel for juggling clubs before committing to purchasing a professional set. Now I don’t have an excuse to avoid learning clubs any longer. Time to practice!