The Rainy Day Explorer’s Kit

Hello again at last, after an uncharacteristic hiatus; we’ve been a plague house this last couple of weeks, with both my husband and I felled by seasonal ‘flu.  Harry miraculously escaped, and observed our symptoms and progress with great interest; he immediately and opportunistically whipped out his Melissa & Doug Veterinary Dress-Up Bag, and proceeded to administer bandages, injections and chilly plastic stethscopes to whichever of us was too slow to evade his latex gloved-clutches.

Still, the fevers have at last abated, leaving us feeling a little stir-crazy and restless, particularly as last month’s glorious snowfalls have been replaced by driving rain and an all-pervading damp chilliness.  It was time for some indoor adventuring, in the style of a housebound Indiana Jones, so last night whilst Harry was asleep I hastily constructed the Rainy Day Indoor Expedition Kit…

Rainy Day Expedition Kit from katescreativespace

I used this old cardboard laundry box (below) which I found at a local junk shop.  A vintage suitcase would also be brilliant for this, but equally a large shoebox or bag would do the job.  I designed a suitably enticing picture for the front (you can download mine below), and pasted it on before filling it with a collection of bits and bobs from around the house that would spark Harry’s imagination and get us started on a truly exciting and brave indoor adventure.

laundry box

Almost all of the items can be sourced within minutes – and quickly returned to their usual homes afterwards.  A quick raid of the laundry cupboard, fridge, and Harry’s toybox generated most of the contents.  I’ve highlighted below what I included and why; you can customise this for the age(s) of your kids, and also get them to join in the planning; when Harry’s a bit older I’ll get him to decide most the things we need.

Contents of indoor expedition kit

In our rainy-day expedition case you’ll find:

  1. A field trip notebook and pen for recording what we see 
  2. A torch (you can teach morse code to older kids).  We had battery-powered fairy lights too for our den
  3. Toy walkie-talkies so we can communicate when out adventuring; real ones would be even cooler
  4. A large white sheet to use as a tent for our den, with pegs to hold it in place.
  5. Books to read in our tent, when eating our snacks
  6. Juice and crackers.  We ate these before we even started, so one of our first expeditions was back to the fridge
  7. A simple point-and-shoot camera for Harry to take endless blurry photos of our trip
  8. Hat and goggles, in the manner of all true explorers
  9. A sword, because you never know when you’ll meet a pirate or a baddie
  10. Handcuffs; see above.
  11. A rubber snake, for instant atmosphere; throwing this around (Harry) and screaming in faux-terror (me) took up quite a lot of the day and caused endless delight
  12. Marvin, Harry’s right-hand mouse and inseparable companion, and finally..
  13. A strong rope; we used a waxed washing line rope, mostly as a lasso for wild animals, but also to tie around our waists when climbing the stairs / dangerous mountain.

Expedition Kit Contents

I placed the expedition suitcase on a stool for Harry to discover it at breakfast time, when we usually make our plans for the day.  Once he wrestled the top off the box, he also found this mysterious ribbon-tied scroll in the case, which outlines exactly what you need to do to qualify as a proper Adventurer; this provided the basic plan for our morning…

Adventurers Challenge

Our den-building took quite a bit of time and was lots of fun; pondering the exact location, and discussing what we needed to consider; (ability to see pirates coming from afar, easy access to food and toys, and a multitude of other specifics).  We strung, hung and pegged and bundled cushions and suitcase into the finished den, stringing up fairy lights for added atmosphere..

harrys big expedition

Harry’s toy dog Digby nobly agreed to play the role of wild animal and was duly captured and tethered to the kitchen table, with some crackers as a reward for his co-operation and acting skills.

indoor expedition

We fended off attacks from a troop of Lego City Robbers and some Playmobil pirates before settling down to stories and juice.  After lunch we discovered the promised treasure; leftover chocolate gold coins from Christmas, secreted in an old wooden box at the top of the stairs.

It was the best kind of day; just enough planning to spark Harry’s imagination, and then much adventuring, rescuing, wrestling, construction, destruction and finally chocolate, which seems to me to be the formula for little boy heaven.  I’m sure versions of this game are played in homes the world over, but if you want to download our Expedition Case label and Adventurer Instructions, you can find both below.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to just go untether a dog before retiring to my den with a fistful of chocolate coins (who says you have to grow up?).

The Adventurers Challenge

Expedition Kit

Rocket Man!

Today the house is once again filled with swirling brick dust as our renovations continue, though it is eerily silent as the builders seem to have downed tools in search of sunshine, and have not been seen since Thursday. I’ve been forbidden from stepping in to finish the job, glue gun and apron in hand, so instead have turned my restless energies into creating…. a rocket!

Harry’s current passion is rockets and outer space, having discovered Wallace and Gromit and their adventures to the moon in search of cheese.  With the challenge of only using items already around the house, I built this in a couple of hours and it has already been piloted on several missions (‘Let’s go whooshing Mummy! Put your seatbelt on and I will press the button!’).  Making the rocket capsule was easy enough – I used an opened-out packing box from our recent move – but the domed roof gave me pause for thought.  In the end, I used a fibre matting liner intended for the hanging baskets I never quite got around to planting this summer.  Sprayed silver and with empty yoghurt pots glued on top it does the job just fine…

I cut out the viewing window by drawing round a plate and then using a craft knife.  A polystyrene wreath ring makes a good porthole, especially when wrapped in scraps of brightly coloured paper.  Cotton reels give a countdown to launch, and also provide the basis for an external control panel (below; I added one inside too for proper piloting of the craft after take-off…).

On the side of the rocket is this fuel cap and general gadget bar, made from old plastic lids and some stick-on alphabet letters

The captain needs a proper entrance, of course…  Reels provide doorknobs on both sides, for pilot access and to firmly shut the door once inside, in case of aliens (or grown-ups).  See how to make 3D stars like these here.

And finally our accessories; a spaceman lunch box (for cheese sandwiches and milk; the food of champions), a range of plastic tools in case of spacecraft malfunction – always possible when Mummy is the architect – and space goggles; this cardboard pair of 3D specs I saved from an old comic.

If you fancy making one of these yourself, come fly with us!  Here’s a full list of what we used, though the beauty of these is there’s no ‘right’ way of doing it – use whatever you have to hand.  A word on technique; I found that hot glue (from a glue gun) is the best way of ensuring everything stays in place, and craft knives – rather than scissors – are best for cutting corrugated cardboard like this without squashing and tearing it.  Toys like this will take a battering if used to their fullest potential, so I’m armed with a big role of clear packing tape to add reinforcement and repairs when needed.

Like this project? If you’re a cardboard recycling fan, you might also like our cardboard train and our cardboard shop.  And now you’ll have to excuse us; we need to prepare for  a moon landing in 5…  4 …  3… 2….