Spaghetti Box Kids

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The Amazing One Minute Crane Your Child Will Love

June 29th, 2009 · 9 Comments

The toy crane: a timeless activity that captures the imagination of kids everywhere. The best part, that part that kids love the most, is pickin’ stuff up. So, if you’ve ever wondered how to make a kids’ crane, or how to make a pulley for kids, here’s your answer:

simple pulleyMaterials:

Magnets (2)
String (kite string is fine)

How to make the Crane:

1. Use a piece of tape to make a loop at the top of a doorway or archway in your house. Here’s how to do it so the string moves easily through the loop: Cut one piece of tape six inches long. Cut another 4 inches long. Center the shorter piece onto the longer piece and press them together (press the sticky sides together). Now only the tips of the longer piece are sticky. Press the tips to the top of your doorway to make the pulley.

2. Pass a piece of string through the pulley. The two ends should reach the floor.

3. Allow two small magnets to grab each other with one end of the string between them.

How to Operate the Crane:

Simply allow your child to raise and lower the end of the crane by pulling the free end of the string. Create a range of motion by giving the magnets a gentle push.

Activities/ Games:

Scatter a jar of nuts and bolts onto the floor beneath the crane. Objective: pick up the items and transport them to receiving area (–a shoe box or bowl). (Hint: if magnets separate from string when “unloading” items, wrap magnets tightly with one layer of tape.)

Fill a vase with water. Add a handful of nuts and bolts. Objective: retrieve the items from underwater and transport them to receiving area.

Tie a bundle of toothpicks together to make a “load.” Do the same with popsicle sticks. Add a bolt to each bundle so the crane is able to pick it up. Make a dozen or so loads. Objective: pick up the items and transport them to receiving area (and sort by type).

Make and cut out alphabet letters using construction paper. Tape or glue letters on top of bottle caps. Scatter the letters beneath crane. Objective: pick up letters to make words. (Hint: try to focus on visual words like “cow” or “dog” for instance.)

Make numbers using the same procedure as above. Objective: retrieve the numbers in order. (Advanced: retrieve only odd or even numbers in order.)

how to make a simple pulleyKids love cranes, but you don’t have to go to the toy store to find one. Just make your own in about 1 minute. Advanced version of this activity: allow your child to make a pulley system using three or more pulleys. To do this, use the sides of the door opening in addition to the top. One pulley could even be on the floor! (Just locate it away from target pick-up items.) Regardless of how you play, this simple crane activity will hold your child’s full attention and focus, and provide a fun and easy learning experience time and again.

Tags: Kids’ Activities · Kids' Science

9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tony // Jun 30, 2009 at 7:14 am

    Home made toys are always so much fun, at least they were when I was a kid. It seems high tech & expensive seems to be the most important things with a lot of kids today

  • 2 Spaghetti Box Kids // Jun 30, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Good points. I agree–not only are home made toys fun, they generally require more creativity and imagination. They nurture a child’s active motivation to explore (concepts and information), versus a passive need to be stimulated (by exciting things and gadgets).

  • 3 MiscBytes // Jul 1, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    What fun! Like Tony mentioned, kids are getting more and more high tech toys these days, but the thing is once they are bored of that immediate thrill the bells and whistles will do, then the toy is worthless. Something like this crane can provide hours of good-quality fun and I think even older kids would enjoy doing it and maybe changing it around to see what happens. When you travel with kids and need “something else” for them to play with, it’s great to know of some things you can produce on the fly!

  • 4 Spaghetti Box Kids // Jul 1, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    Thanks for the feedback. I agree that this activity offers something for older kids too. But regardless of age, kids are using a wide range of skills. Plus it’s a pretty easy time for parents.

  • 5 Meam Wye // Aug 31, 2009 at 6:08 am

    Wow……..that’s pretty creative and simple! I wish I had access to your blog when my nephews and nieces were kids and I used to spend quite a lot of time online finding such fun and educational activities :)

  • 6 Spaghetti Box Kids // Aug 31, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Sounds like your nieces and nephews had a pretty cool aunt. Hope you are still close with them.

    Thanks for the feedback-

  • 7 Jamie // Feb 22, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    I like the 1 minute crane, but have had issue with tape coming off door way too easily and paint tearing off….otherwise great activity though!

  • 8 Spaghetti Box Kids // Feb 23, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Sorry to hear that. Try an eye hook instead. That should do the trick-

  • 9 cole // Jun 1, 2013 at 6:40 am

    i love this crane thanks for the instructions!!

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