Build a construction party bash for your children, complete with invitations, decorations, a cardboard house and a non-bake cake.
Caution! Party in progress: Raise the roof with a party any construction-loving kid is sure to dig.
Announce your big job with simple scrap-wood invitations (wooden craft rectangles from a craft store). Use a ballpoint pen or carpenter pencil to add such details as “Construction Site” (place) and “Site Boss” (host), along with carpenter-style notations.
A real fixer-upper
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Let your crew get a cardboard-box playhouse up to code by adding shingles, shutters, window boxes and more.
Site prep: Before the party, cut the top flaps off a large box; tape the bottom flaps closed. (Ask a department or appliance store for a box if you don’t have one. We used a refrigerator box.) To add a roof, score another piece of cardboard down the middle, fold it over, then hot-glue it to the box. Finally, collect supplies for the building activities below.
Construction: Anything goes when it comes to customizing this structure, but here’s a list to get kids started:
• Glue construction-paper shingles to the roof.
• Draw doors and windows (parents can cut them out with a box knife if desired).
• Fill shoebox window boxes with flowers made from pipe cleaners and tissue paper; hot-glue the boxes to the house (a parent’s job).
• Glue on doorknobs made from jar lids and bottle caps.
• Use hot glue to attach cardboard shutters and other decorative touches.
• Paint the house using tempera paint.
• Festoon the house with “caution” tape (found at home-improvement centers and some party supply stores).
When the foreman says it’s break time, break out this snack box. To create one, line the tray of a clean new toolbox with aluminum foil. Fill it with chips, crackers, cut-up veggies, cheese and tubs of dip. Load the bottom with juice boxes and ice.
Pack that tool belt
At the beginning of the party, outfit each worker with a hard hat and a waist apron and have kids personalize their “tool belts” with fabric markers. After games and activities, hand out additional gear for the workers to tuck into them:
• Hard hat ($6 per dozen, Orientaltrading.com)
• Waist apron (similar to ours are $15 per dozen, Orientaltrading.com)
• Small measuring tape
• Wooden paintbrush
• Carpenter pencil
• Tool and truck stickers
• Granola bar
Dig this cake
This no-bake excavator cake may look like a labor of love, but it’s easily assembled from a pound cake, Twinkies and other sweets. Even the dirt (crushed cookies) is edible.
You will need:
9 ½-by-4-inch pound cake
1 ½ cups yellow frosting
½ cup light-brown frosting (white and chocolate mixed together)
Chocolate decorators’ frosting
4 mini chocolate-covered doughnuts
Blue and green M&M’s candies
Red and yellow gumdrops
4 (8-inch) wooden skewers, trimmed into two 4 ½-inch
and two 6-inch pieces
4 yellow Twizzlers Rainbow Twists, cut to the same size as the skewers
12 chocolate cookies (we used Oreos)
1. Cut a 2 ½-inch-long section from one end of the cake. Frost the section’s cut end and place it on top of the cake for the cab, as shown. Cover the entire cake with yellow frosting, saving about 1/3 cup for the loader and bucket.
2. Spoon the light-brown frosting into a resealable sandwich bag, snip off a corner, and pipe a window onto each side of the cab. Outline the windows with chocolate decorators’ frosting, then press the doughnut tires in place. Add M&M’s and gumdrops for lights and hubcaps.
3. Use Twix to add a smokestack and loader arms. Frost one of the Twinkies yellow, set it on the loader arms, and add chocolate decorators’ frosting details. Cut a 2-inch section from the other Twinkie, place it behind the truck for the bucket, and frost it yellow. Add pieces of yellow gumdrop for teeth.
4. Slide the skewers inside the Twizzlers. Press them into the cake and bucket as shown, using dabs of chocolate decorators’ frosting to join them. With a rolling pin or food processor, crush the chocolate cookies into “dirt” and sprinkle it around the cake. Serves 8.
Topple the tower
In this test of precision demolition, kids use a miniature wrecking ball to knock down the tower one box at a time.
Site prep: Attach one end of a long piece of string to a tennis ball painted black (we tied ours to a small screw eye inserted in the ball, but you could also secure it with duct tape). Feed the other end through a key ring taped to a tree branch or door frame. To construct the tower, number and stack seven empty cereal or snack boxes.
Demolition: Players stand about 4 feet from the stack. They adjust the height of the wrecking ball by pulling on the string, then swing the ball at the tower. The group’s challenge: knock the boxes off in sequence and only one box at a time. Each player’s turn lasts until he misses. If he knocks off more than one box, or knocks one off out of order, it’s considered a miss and the box is restacked. The person who demolishes the last box wins.