But this week, they've been a little more restless, and with only one adult to entertain them instead of three, I needed an activity that would keep them busy and not result in fighting.
So we made these cup launchers, an idea I first saw in a post on Spoonful.
Aaron goes crazy for just about any craft, and the other two happily followed along. They were totally focused and engaged for at least an hour (while Clark slept peacefully--bless that baby!). And afterwards, my four-year-old thanked me for coming up with such a fun idea (I wish I could take credit, but I rely heavily on the creativity of others).
If you want to make some cup launchers of your own, here's what you'll need:
- two plastic cups (I would go for heavy duty ones. They have to hold up to a lot of pushing and popping)
- two rubber bands (again, heavy duty is ideal)
- tape (whatever variety you prefer)
First, they had to decide what picture they wanted on the front of their cups. Ideally, it needed to be something that could fly or bounce or hop. The three of them spent a good chunk of time debating the launching abilities of various objects and animals. For example, does a dolphin qualify since it leaps out of the water? What about a shark? Or a lion?
They finally settled on a rocket ship, a dragon, and a frog. Aaron sketched his own dragon while Max and Bradley opted for printing theirs out and coloring them.
Once they were done drawing and coloring, they cut out the pictures.
Then we taped them to the front of the cups.
To assemble the launcher, take the cup with the picture on the front and make four 1/2 inch snips around the edge. The snips should be evenly spaced. Put a small piece of tape at the top of each snip to prevent the cup from splitting up the side. (This really is necessary. We had one piece of tape fall off, and that little snip spread all the way up one side.)
Take the rubber bands and cut them open, so that you have two long strips instead of two circles. Knot one end and thread it through a snip. Pull the other end across to the snip on the other side. Slide it through the snip and then knot that end as well. Do the same thing with the other rubber band and the two remaining snips.
The cup should look like this with the rubber bands making an X and knots along the outside edge. (I should have used colored tape, so you could see it, but it's there, I promise.)
We experimented a little with the tightness of the rubber bands. At first, I pulled them just to the point of stretching, but I think that was a little too tight. The launcher seemed to work better when there was just a little bit of slack in the rubber bands (this also helped the rubber bands not break).
To use the launcher, slide the cup with the rubber bands over the other cup. Push it down so the rubber bands stretch out.
Then let it go, and watch the rocket ship (or dragon) (or frog), spring up into space.
Then repeat again and again until the rubber bands break and have to be replaced (which ours did).
This is a fun activity because 1) it's cheap, 2) it can be played with outside or inside, 3) the picture can be changed to extend the fun, and 4) it actually works.