About six weeks ago, Liam began begging for a new toy sword, despite having at least four swords in his play box. I tried diverting his attention. I attempted to rationalize, asking why he would need yet another sword. After the twentieth plea, I took a new tactic. I told him he could earn the money for the sword. We assigned chores and set up an allowance. I even gave him a chart to cross off the days until “sword day.” All was going according to plan, until it came time to purchase the sword.
Of course, by the time he’d earned the money, he no longer wanted the sword. I sent him and Kellen to the toy store with their dad, and advised Ben they could each pick one new toy under $15. Liam selected a $9 superman action figure, and Kellen a $30 bat mobile. I admonished Ben for going over budget.
I shouldn’t have been so quick to judge because a few hours later, after hearing the boys spend the better part of the afternoon arguing over the new toys, I took them to the thrift store and got another action figure and another car so each boy would have a set and I could utter a new phrase besides “share!” With my purchases we ended around $27 over budget.
This obsession stuff gets expensive. Every time the boys enter a new phase, they want clothes, toys and books to match their latest craze. Tired of giving in, but also wanting to nurture their interests, I set about getting crafty, Superhero style. Each of these crafts were made with items from my house- I did not purchase a single thing new.
1. Captain America shields- One of the boys favorite playmates has a Captain America shield and of course they wanted shields too. I grabbed a couple of old frisbees and got to work. Steps are captured in the photos below. If you have elastic instead of ribbon, that would work better, but I didn’t have any on hand.
2. Homemade Super Bat Cave- Liam’s last obsession was Ninja Turtles. I spent an arm and a leg on a sewer lair for the turtles. When we opened the package, it was about 60% cardboard with a few cheap plastic pieces. Liam started asking for a Bat Cave and I determined I was not going down that road again. The real key is to have a few different stations in the cave, and a few interactive parts.
I gave two boxes and a toilet paper tube a quick coat of silver spray paint, because I happened to have left over silver in my garage. The shoe box added the first interactive element- a door concealing a pole leading to the bat cave, the pole being the second element. The third is a slide made from cutting a rectangle in the top of the larger box and taping it down to the bottom. I found images for the Super Bat symbol online, as well as the bat computer, etc. I made a gadget case by gluing pictures to a wooden block, and made the furniture out of blocks as well. The case to house Batman’s suit is a tiolet paper tube. We fashioned a hook for Superman’s cape out of a pipe cleaner, and made an extra cape out of a scrap of red fabric.
3. The Fortress of Solitude- Although we made a Super Bat Cave, it seemed more Batman than Superman. So I made a Fortress of Solitude as well.
I used a clear plastic tote as the housing for the Fortress, since it was clear and “crystal-like.” Appropriately enough, I made the crystals by cutting apart empty containers of Crystal Light drink mix, as well as a gallon milk jug and a gallon water jug. I cut them all into crystal shaped pieces and dipped them in glue and glitter. I made a small slide, and used the handle from the milk jug as an additional ice fixture. I hot-glued the crystals, slide, handle, and some glass beads to create the Fortress. I wanted to have more interactive parts, but the tote was too thick and I couldn’t cut through it.
4. Superhero Counting Set- Of course, I want to sneak in something of educational value into this superhero play. I made a counting set out of construction paper. I cut bat symbols, superman symbols, and Captain America shields. The boys could use the manipulatives to count, as well as start learning simple addition and subtraction.
This week, we’ll be working on Super Villain lairs! And yes, I am more excited about this than the boys are, as my husband loves to point out.