Popsicle Sticks Bow and Arrow

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When your son requests a bow and arrow at 6 am on a Saturday, you pray to the craft gods that you have all the materials in your craft bin. And when in fact you do, it feels like a little miracle, especially when that includes wooden bobbins that I’d purchased only the day before for a different craft, but had never owned before. Clearly it was meant to be!

So here is the quite-complicated bow and arrow we put together. For my preschooler, it mostly meant watching mommy since it involves lots of hot glue. If your child is 8 year old and up, they can get more hands on!

First, glue together 6 jumbo craft sticks in an arc, securing at each meeting point with hot glue.

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Repeat with 6 additional craft sticks for the other side of the bow. It’s very important that you line these up exactly right, or your two sides won’t glue together properly.

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Although not necessary, we added reenforcements and embellishments with decorative craft sticks, making V and T shapes. Hot glue these down.

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Add wooden bobbins at each of the craft stick intersections, gluing the right side of the bow to the tops of the bobbins and the left side of the bow to the bottom of the bobbins.

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Ideally, we would have used a very stretchy elastic for the bow string. Since I didn’t have one that was large enough (the craft bin gods weren’t perfect!) we tied on two taut pieces of twine instead. This wasn’t ideal, but it worked in a pinch. Add duct tape around the center for a smoother arrow launch.

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To prepare the arrows, insert two straws together and tape where they meet.

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Hot glue a pom pom to one end and cut the other end into a V so it can notch onto your bow string. Again, what I had on hand (bendy straws) wasn’t ideal. Next time we’ll use thicker straight straws, which will make much sturdier arrows.

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But my little knight/samurai/warrior now had a bow, and that was all that mattered!

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We might not have had perfect launches, but we did have imaginative fun!

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King of the Castle

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I first spotted this homemade castle in Family Fun magazine months ago, and knew it was something I just had to make for Travis eventually!

Parents, it may seem like a lot of work, but the castle comes together remarkably easily in very few steps. My advice is to tackle one portion per day, so that it never seems overwhelming.

First, purchase (or reuse!) three large boxes. Use large (about 20×20 inches) for the two sides, and extra large (22×22 inchesĀ  – or more!) for the center portion.

For the center section, trace a drawbridge shape onto craft paper, and tape down to the largest box. Cut out the shape.

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To attach the drawbridge cutout, you’ll need two lengths of plastic chain (ask them to cut these to size at Home Depot) about 2 and 1/2 feet in length. Poke a pipe cleaner through the end of the cardboard further from the castle, and thread the pipe cleaner through; attach to one end of a chain. Repeat on the other side. Make two small holes next to the drawbridge cut-out in the castle box, and thread each chain through, securing with hot glue or tape.

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For the two side pieces of the castle, cut out window shapes, leaving the “shutters” attached. Peek-a-boo!

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You can use scissors or an x-acto knife to crenellate the tops of all three boxes. We taped one roof flat with the anticipation of adding a “bell tower” down the line – if we do, I’ll update this post!

Cut a side door in each side section so your kids can crawl from “room” to “room” within the castle; now tape all three sections together with a few pieces of duct tape.

Next up, we needed to apply a coat of paint!

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For some fun extras, we didn’t stop there! To make banners, attach pieces of triangular cardstock or poster board to dowels, and tape at the top of the castle.

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For ivy, hot glue leaves cut from green tissue paper or construction paper onto twine.

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For a torch, hot glue the bottom of a paper towel tube shut. Stuff with tissue paper, and then add gold or white tissue paper up top to stick out as flames. Position a battery-operated tea light just behind the tissue paper and your torch will really light up!

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That’s as far as we went, but there’s so much more you can do! Consider painting old shoeboxes and positioning below the windows as sills, stuffing with additional green tissue paper as greenery. You can also hot glue an old blanket or piece of cloth into the drawbridge opening, or hang strips of crepe paper as a “portcullis”.

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Inevitably, games in the castle involved Travis’s sword and our homemade shield. What else will you add to the castle for your king or queen? Please share in the comments!

Creative Crowns

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In our ongoing quest for the best kingly crown, Travis and I found this method – simple as can be, and no glue required!

First, cut a piece of contact paper long enough to wrap around your child’s head, and twice as wide as you want the final product to be; tape down to a work surface and peel the paper backing off only half of the sticky paper.

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I set Travis up with a variety of materials that he could adhere to the contact paper, using what we had in our craft bin: pipe cleaner pieces, yarn pieces, bits of construction paper and felt, and strips of decorative washi tape. Patterned fabric pieces and stickers would also be great for this craft!

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He set about arranging the items on the sticky paper. Ideally, the pieces will point upwards like the points of a crown, but Travis preferred some of his sideways instead.

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This was a great chance to talk about the difference between horizontal and vertical as he worked!

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Once Travis declared his crown finished, I removed the remaining paper backing and folded the sticky paper over on itself; he loved helping seal in the decorations.

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Simply use clear packing tape to fasten the crown into a circle, then let your child be king or queen for the day!

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DIY Shield & Coat of Arms

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Inspired by our Medieval kit from Koala Crate, we had to continue the fun with more games of knights and kings! Travis has a Disney plastic broadsword, so this Medieval mama couldn’t wait to show him how to make a shield to go along with it.

Start with a piece of cardboard roughly the size of your child’s chest, and trim the bottom edge into a point to make a shield shape.

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Next we covered the shield in foil for a shiny metal look, securing on the back with masking tape.

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It’s starting to look like the Middle Ages around here!

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Travis adored the next step, outlining the edges of his shield in colorful duct tape. I knew I’d need all those colorful rolls that have been taking up space in our craft bin eventually!

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Any pretty washy tape would work great here as well, and you can tape designs on the interior of the shield as well as the edges, if your child would like.

We then talked a little about coats of arms, and how knights used them to distinguish one another in battle. Travis drew a “lion” as his sigil.

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Older kids may want to do some online research and pull up information about real coats of arms, or learn about the symbolism in many of the designs. You can draw a more complicated coat of arms on paper, and tape that onto the shield. If drawing directly onto the foil, make sure you use sharpie markers; washable markers will rub right off.

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For the handle, tape two pieces of colored duct tape together, leaving one longer than the other. Apply the sticky ends of the long tape to the back for the shield in an arc. Now your knight has something to hold on to.

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Behold brave Sir Travis!

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Then it was time for a sword fight of course. Haha, that’s me wielding a Nerf bat to battle my son.

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Medieval Crate

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I pretty much peed my pants when I saw our latest theme from Koala Crate – the Medieval crate! I was a huge medieval dork as a kid (and, well, still am), and couldn’t wait to share with Travis the projects and ideas about the Middle Ages.

One note in general: I’ve noticed that Koala is getting more… complex, both in terms of theme and the materials we receive each month. I’m not sure if the kits grow more sophisticated as your subscription goes on, or if this is an attempt by Koala to stay competitive in the expanding world of kids’ subscriptions boxes. This isn’t a value judgment, just an observation that our projects feel a little needlessly complicated. Still, you should be able to mostly replicate the ideas below with items from a craft store, if so inclined!

Because we’ve recently been in love with dragon stories and lore (Dragon’s Love Tacos!), it was natural to start with the Dragon Wagon project. We needed to first apply provided tissue paper circles as dragon scales to the sticky sides of a cardboard box.

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Whoops, just in time we realized there were shiny stickers too, and made room for those.

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My favorite part of this crate was the dexterity Travis showed. He largely took over adding 2 wooden dowels to be the axles, then adding 4 wooden wheels and a foam circle to hold the wheels in place.

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Next he threaded through the provided orange rope, to pull the wagon along.

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We hadn’t even added the dragon and already the Middle Ages were a huge hit with my boy!

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To add the dragon, we adhered four thin streamers of orange tissue paper to the sticky strip on a cardboard dragon head. Koala set this up very neatly so that if you huff through the open mouth, the “flames” wave.

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Slide the dragon head into the provided slot on the wagon and your project is complete.

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I read to Travis a bit about catapults in the Imagine magazine, after which he couldn’t want to set up the Catapult craft. Again, he insisted on doing a lot of the dexterous work solo. Slip a foam circle onto a clothespin, slot the clothespin into the hole on the cardboard catapult base, and secure it with a second foam circle.

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We added sticky-back foam to one end of a craft stick, and adhered the catapult dish (a small plastic circle) to the other end. The catapult then slots into the clothespin and is secured with an elastic.

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Now it was time to load up our cannonballs (er, pom poms), provided in fun, rock-like colors and various sizes. Launch!

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For a little math in the process, set up a ruler and see how far your pom poms go. It was fun to guess which size “rock” would go furthest.

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Well now we needed a target, so we didn’t waste any time before turning to the final craft, the Medieval Castle. This was simply pieces of cardboard which slotted together. Travis was a bit frustrated (the slots were tight), so I finished up the castle and folded the provided cardboard characters for him.

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Here’s where the crate scored big points with mama on the imagination scale! Your child can have so much fun with the characters moving about in the castle, laying siege to one another, and avoiding the fire-breathing dragon.

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Did I mention I’m a nut about the Middle Ages?

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To continue the interactive play, we made Travis his own crown to be king of the castle, with an easy DIY pipe cleaner crown.

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Twist two pipe cleaners together to be the base – you may need three pipe cleaners, depending on the circumference of your child’s head.

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Cut 5 or 6 more pipe cleaners in half to be the points of your crown, and bend each into a triangle.

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Travis and I devised a little assembly line – he threaded a shiny bead on to the point of each triangle…

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…after which I twisted the ends around our base. Be sure no wire points will poke into your child’s head.

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A proud king!

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Thanks for medieval fun, Koala Crate!