DIY Cardboard Camera


DIY Cardboard Camera by Amber

There are so many adorable ideas for cardboard cameras on the internet, but this one comes from the first post I ever published on The Cardboard Collective about cardboard beads. When I got my new camera, I had the paper camera brochure left over, and glued it to some cardboard. We strung it with some cardboard beads on paper twine to make one of the more popular items in the girl’s jewelery box.

DIY Cardboard Camera by Amber

Recently I joined up with about 15 other mothers from my daughter’s yochien (Japanese preschool) and we made cardboard camera necklaces for all the kids at her school. The cameras were a prize from our fishing booth at the summer festival.

It was SO fun to see the kids snapping photos of each other. Since most of the parents were also walking around with their cameras slung around their necks, there was the slight excited air of a press conference announcing the magic of summer; more kiddie pools and popsicles to come….

DIY Cardboard Camera by Amber

Some of the kids know I helped make the cardboard cameras, so it was cute when they pretended to take my picture. A sweet way of trying to communicate and be playful with me. Of course I love kids AND cardboard, so I was pretty smitten the entire day.

DIY Cardboard Camera by Amber

Say “チーズ!”

Cardboard Tinkering Toy Series: Cardboard and Cork Flip Car

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This car is SO much fun!

It really makes my girls giggle because it seems like it has its own personality. We’ve had a great time tinkering with ramps, and there was also a failed zig-zag chute, but the girls also love attaching a string and chasing after each.

This project is pretty intuitive once you gather all the tools and materials together. A few pointers:

* Use large paperclips that have fewer kinks to straighten out.

* Try to cut your corks as evenly as possible.

* You can make the car without the hinge in the middle, but if you do make the hinge, be sure to leave a gap between the hinging parts.

I hope you try this one out, it truly is a toy for all ages!

Stackable Cardboard Puzzle Trays

Getting our toys organized to the point that they can easily be used and put away has been a huge focus in our home this past month.

Electra is a complete puzzle nut, so I thought getting our puzzles straightened up would be a good place to start.

These are just kiwi boxes, super sturdy ones, that I rescued from the grocery store. I cut out the front portion of the box with a utility knife.

The boxes have notches at the top that interlock with the box above. This feature makes the boxes great for stacking since they always stay in place.

In the first version I tried, I removed the entire front of the box, which I wouldn’t advise. It’s important to leave at least an inch or so on all three sides to maintain the rigidity of the cardboard.

We thought about decorating the boxes in some way, but I in the end I fell in love with the punchy red and yellow (and the little diagonal break.)  Bold, graphic colors are such a great contrast to all of the neutral shades we have in our apartment.

I’m a big proponent of Montessori philosophy. “Help me do it by myself,” is a central Montessori theme, and this project is an example of one way that we integrate Montessori  philosophy into our day-to-day activities.

Electra always works on a mat to define the space, and chooses one puzzle at a time. When she’s done she has to put one puzzle away before she gets  another one out.

Sometimes I pull all of the trays out for her to choose from and sometimes just a few, it kind of depends on the mood of the day and what she’s currently interested in.

I have to say, with this system, she really does clean up after herself. There’s something about that whole order begets order thing.

Now if I can just get it to spread to the rest of my house a little faster.

More on Montessori:

Basics of Montessori Philosophy

Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, by Angelina S. Lillard, PhD (If you don’t have time to read this excellent book, listen to the NPR podcast while you’re folding laundry!)

Tokyo Toy Museum


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On Saturday we went down to one of my favorite places for children in Tokyo; The Tokyo Toy Museum. Housed in a renovated elementary school building in central Tokyo, TTM is home to a superb collection of toys, both traditional and modern, from around the world. The museum has several floors with rooms and play spaces devoted to different age groups. This past weekend the museum hosted a matsuri (festival) showcasing retail toys from a variety of special toy makers, toy making workshops, activities, games and performances.

One of the highlights for us was visiting the new, or at least new since our last visit, 0-3 years room, filled with beautiful wood and cloth toys. The space felt both serene and joyful at the same time. How do they do that?

Electra loved the sculptural pieces of cedar that had been carved and sanded until soft, into earthy slides and tunnels. Isis was fascinated by the fabric balls and otedama (Japanese bean bags) that had wandered into the white concave space she spent most of her time exploring.

I am again overwhelmed with inspiration after our visit to Tokyo Toy Museum, and am hoping to post about many, many TTM inspired cardboard playthings soon!

My favorite picture from the day.

This is the toy hospital. Where your favorite toys find new life. Staffed by retired electricians, hobbyists, and other kindrid spirits.