Two-for-One Space Shuttle: Valentine Box and Monster Truck Piñata

Posted by on March 14, 2011


Our nation’s farewell to the beloved space shuttle has been at the front of our minds this past few months, so it’s no wonder that when I asked our 2nd grader what type of Valentine’s Day box he wanted to decorate (thinking of the oatmeal-can rocket ship, or the ubiquitous construction paper-wrapped shoe box) he insisted on a space shuttle.  Mom and Dad built it, and Boo (our son) decorated it. After completing its noble card- and goody-carrying mission, it was decommissioned to the top of our son’s dresser. I despaired of ever getting rid of it.

Fast forward a month to Boo’s (belated) birthday party. After looking around town, unsuccessfully, for a suitable piñata for a mature young man of 8 years, we decided to build our own.  Boo wanted a monster truck, and as we tried to negotiate features (he wanted fancy rounded edges, I wanted a simple boxy design) we remembered the Valentine Shuttle. It even had a handy dandy candy compartment in the form of a cargo bay.  Why not turn it into a custom Monster Truck? So we did.


Part One: Valentine Box

We used NASA Diagrams for  the cool background information (did you know the orbiter is just a very elaborate glider, when all is said and done?) and for the shuttle’s general shape:


Fairly simple construction – a corrugated cardboard box, with paper board sides and a cone for a nose. For the Valentine Box, we used packing tape and painted with tempura and acrylic paints.

Another view of the original Valentine Box, as Boo prepares to paint:pinata1


After Boo’s first coat of paint.  Acrylic (white paint) worked well on cardboard and but just “okay” over packing tape: Pinata2

Boo did (nearly) all of the painting and sticker positioning. We forgot to take a “completed” picture, so here is a picture taken after the school party, and the following mile-long walk home in the bottom of Bug’s stroller (fortunately, you can’t see the footprint where I trod on it after it escaped containment):




Part Two: Monster Truck Piñata

The first thing we had to do was take the entire thing apart and replace packing tape (stronger) with masking tape (weaker), and introduce some points of weakness into the body (we want the piñata to break, eventually). We filled the cargo bay with candy, and shut the payload doors. Using spray adhesive, we wrapped the shuttle in several layers of tissue paper:


Missing steps, many missing steps. Well, you can see that we had to wrap and replace all of the shuttle bits, but we also added:

  • A trapezoid-shaped box with straws glued to it, for the monster truck’s suspension
  • Wheels (we glued on crumpled tissue paper bits, à la preschool craft hour)
  • Pom-poms for flame-exhaust.

Our son supervised the decorations and named the monster truck Crash Landing. (Yeah!)  Finally, we did something we should have done at the beginning (woops) and added the hangers – zip ties – so that we’d be able to hang the piñata. Ta-da!


And here is one very excited little guest:

Photo Credit: Tara Bobadilla

2 Responses to Two-for-One Space Shuttle: Valentine Box and Monster Truck Piñata

  1. Wesley's Mom

    Thank you so much for the great instruction. We couldn’t find a Valentine’s box that my son liked until we found your space shuttle. We will give it a try this weekend. Thanks

  2. abby

    its awesome and th kids love it

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