Make These Toys: Beyond the Useless Crafts for Kids

Make These ToysLeave it to a third grade teacher to figure out how to keep kids occupied with the stuff you have lying around your house anyway.

With budget cuts aplenty in American schools, today's teacher has to be thrifty.

But Heather Swain has taken it to an extreme with her new book "Make These Toys: 101 Clever Creations Using Everyday Items" and would-be crafty parents reap the benefits.

These aren't just the cute projects that end up hanging around your house for days before you chuck them in the trash when your kids aren't looking.

They're USEFUL, and I dare say fun.

The former third grade teacher and mother of two has collected the best of green grade school crafts into a handy little collection that no parent -- or teacher for that matter -- should be without.


In honor of the recent heat wave, we selected our favorite Swain crafts for beating the heat: the age old milk carton sailboat:


  • 1/2 gallon beverage carton (empty, clean and dry)
  • marker
  • ruler
  • utility knife
  • stapler
  • duct tape

1. Open the top of the carton all the way. Notice that two of the top panels fold, and two are flat. Measure and make a dot in the center of each of the flat top panels. Then draw a line down the center of the carton on these two sides.

2. Use the utility knife to cut the milk carton in half lengthwise along the lines you drew. Stop when you get to the bottom. Do NOT cut through the center of bottom. Instead, after you've cut both sides, cut all the way around the bottom so this piece stays intact. The carton half with the bottom attached is your boat (note, if your milk carton has a plastic spout hole at the top end, just cut around it and remove it.)

3. Place the bottom of the boat (which is the long flat side of your carton) on your workspace. Fold the edges of the top panel up so that the carton comes to a point. Staple the edges together to form the boat's bow (that's the front, for us landlubbers). To make your boat seaworthy, reinforce the bow seam with duct tape.

4. Launch your boat.

Reprinted from Make These Toys by Heather Swain by arrangement with Perigee, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Copyright (c) 2010 by Heather Swain.

For more milk carton boats, including a balloon-powered option, check it out!

Image via Heather

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