Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Crafting with Jake: Minecraft Magnetic Poetry Board
I love to make stuff with my two littlest boys, but their clumsy little fingers and illiteracy place certain limitations on the types of things they can tackle. Michael and Charlie, two and four years old respectively, are still in the heavy scribbling phase. So no matter how I try to parlay their creative expressions into lasting works of art, most of our projects don’t have a whole lot of staying power. Meaning they eventually wind up in the trash. There. I admit it. I throw my kids’ art away.
But Jakie is eight now. (And yes, I still call him Jakie in spite of his advanced years.) His fine motor skills are off the charts, and his mind is an incredibly fertile landscape. Having said that, it’s not like he spends his spare time finger knitting and making short films with my iPhone. He’s a product of his times and his environment as much as any kid, and as such he loves an opportunity to play video games. Minecraft is his current obsession. If you’ve seen this game being played and could perhaps explain its appeal to me, I’d be much obliged. Intentionally stylized to mimic the look and feel of an early 80’s Atari environment, the game involves, to the best of my limited understanding, building worlds and structures with unwieldy looking hunks of rock. Apparently there is also ample opportunity to kill zombies, but I’ve yet to witness this myself. As video games go, this one looks pretty innocuous to me. Also, its not very loud. That might be because I make Jake play with the volume turned all the way down, but I’m not sure.
So recently I thought of a project that I could do with Jake that would satisfy my urge to spend creative time with him, keep his interest and enthusiasm alive, and actually get a little more use than last summer’s tie-dye t-shirt. This magnetic poetry kit was (like everything I have any interest in making), very easy to put together.
Here’s what we used to make it:
1. A roll of adhesive magnetic tape.
This was the only thing I had to buy for this project; it was $3.99 for a 1/2" wide,ten foot long roll.
2. Magnetic bulletin board. I had bought this thing years ago and never put it to use. I think I paid about $15 for it at the Container Store.
Another option (and better bang for your buck) would be the Ikea Spontan magnetic bulletin board for $12.99
Another option is to paint a magnetic board on a section of wall in your child’s room using magnetic paint.
3. A label maker or printer. I happen to have a label maker, which I used to print out the words that go on the magnets. You can get a Brother P-touch for less than $20. If you don’t have or want a label maker though, you have a couple of other options. You can either print out your words onto a plain piece of paper (use an 18 point font for ½” wide magnetic tape), cut them down to size and attach them to the top of the magnetic tape strip, OR, you can write out your words by hand (or in your child’s hand) and similarly cut and attach them to the magnetic strip.
Before we printed out our words we had to decide what they’d be. I asked Jake to brainstorm some Minecraft words and divide them into categories; we needed nouns and verbs in order to make successful poetry. I also made sure we had some conjunctions, prepositions, an extra "s" and an "es". Here is Jake's notebook showing his brainstorming session:
Next we set to work with the label maker. Jake printed out the words, and I peeled the backing off and stuck them onto the magnetic strip. Then I trimmed as needed and stuck 'em on the board.
This project took about two hours from start to finish, and it was a totally stress free affair. The really fun part, of course, was making up crazy sentences using Minecraft parlance. Here was Jake's first line:
This project can be adapted to any theme. For God's sake don't go out and buy those magnetic poetry kits when you can make your own. If you do this project with your wunderkinder I'd sure love to see the results, so please share.