Our nationâ€™s farewell to the beloved space shuttle has been at the front of our minds this past few months, so itâ€™s no wonder that when I asked our 2nd grader what type of Valentineâ€™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.Â 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 sonâ€™s dresser. I despaired of ever getting rid of it.
Fast forward a month to Booâ€™s (belated) birthday party. After looking around town, unsuccessfully, for a suitable piÃ±ata for a mature young man of 8 years, we decided to build our own.Â 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.Â Why not turn it into a custom Monster Truck? So we did.
Part One: Valentine Box
We used NASA Diagrams forÂ the cool background information (did you know the orbiter is just a very elaborate glider, when all is said and done?) and for the shuttleâ€™s general shape:
Fairly simple construction â€“ 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.
Boo did (nearly) all of the painting and sticker positioning. We forgot to take a â€œcompletedâ€ picture, so here is a picture taken after the school party, and the following mile-long walk home in the bottom of Bugâ€™s stroller (fortunately, you canâ€™t see the footprint where I trod on it after it escaped containment):
Part Two: Monster Truck PiÃ±ata
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 piÃ±ata 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 truckâ€™s suspension
- Wheels (we glued on crumpled tissue paper bits, Ã la preschool craft hour)
- Pom-poms for flame-exhaust.
Our son supervised the decorations and named the monster truck Crash Landing. (Yeah!)Â Finally, we did something we should have done at the beginning (woops) and added the hangers – zip ties – so that weâ€™d be able to hang the piÃ±ata. Ta-da!
And here is one very excited little guest: