Photo of a cardboard Space Shuttle

The Impatient DIYer: Cardboard Space Shuttle!

It's a well known fact that younger children are like cats in many ways.  They will jump on you in the middle of the night.  They'd rather sleep in your bed than theirs. They are picky eaters. They are loud about wanting food.  And for this entry, they love playing with random objects rather than expensive toys.  For my son's fourth birthday, he wanted a space themed party with his friends.  So between a rocket cake, air-powered rockets, jet packs made out of 2-liter bottles and red tissue paper for the flames, we had a pretty good setup.

Photo of cardboard space shuttle

We were looking around for indoor rocket playsets, and while there were a few sets that fit a kid or two, they seemed cheaply made, small, or extremely expensive.  We had moved into a new house a few months prior and thought to ourselves, we can make our own cheaply made cardboard rocket for much cheaper!  We took a look around the house at what we could reuse and make, and came up with a cardboard space shuttle.  Here's what we did:

  1. We started with one of the wardrobe moving boxes and cut out a door and porthole. 
  2. We reinforced the edges with duct tape.
  3. We took some additional cardboard and taped on a "nose cone" on the top of the box.
  4. We purchased two concrete form tubes from a local big box store for the booster rockets and wrapped them in white kraft paper.
  5. We bought two dollar-store plastic bowls and taped them on top of the tubes for the booster nose cones. 
  6. We printed out a few random "rocket control" graphics we found online along with some NASA logos and taped them inside and out.
  7. We added some cheap battery-powered white LED string lights we had laying around.

In 2018, and the overall materials cost that we purchased came out to be around $20 at the time, and I have since re-used the concrete form tubes for some projects around the house.  The concrete tubes have gone up in price a bit since the pandemic, but it's still doable for pretty cheap.

Did the 4-year old kids care that it looked like cardboard box with a lot of tape on it?  Of course not, to them it was a giant, gleaming space-shuttle three or even four of them could squeeze into and play in as they ran around the house in their jet-packs.  All you need for a child's imagination is a spark, not a bonfire.  It's a hard thing to remember sometimes these days.  It's another reason why we came up with our space themed candles.  "Daddy, what does space smell like?"

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