Cool Fun Toys

Fun Toys You Can Make

Enhancing the sound of a PVC didgeridoo.

Didgeridoo Player

The commercially made entry model didgeridoos are made of PVC pipes that are painted with attractive designs and colors. They typically cost anywhere from $20.00 to over $100.00 depending on the level of work put into it. None the less, an exorbitant price considering a 10' length of 1 1/2 " diameter PVC pipe can be obtained for about $6.00 at any hardware or building supply stores. Here's a short video on how easy it is to make one on YouTube.

A PVC didgeridoo obviously is not going to sound the same as a real eucalyptus limb didgeridoo. The key difference is the texture of the inside wall of the instrument that cause the right amount of back pressure when blown. A tree limb hollowed out by ants does not have a perfectly smooth and straight inside wall of a PVC pipe. It is highly textured and never arrow straight. It is these imperfect textures, bends, bumps and curves of a natural tree limb that produce back-pressure when blown and the right amount of back-pressure is what makes the real didgeridoo sound.

These natural imperfections of a tree limb can be simulated on to a PVC pipe, all that's needed are non-toxic glue, saw dust and a heat gun. You can simulate wood texture by coating the inside of the PVC with glue and then applying sawdust. The heat gun is used to soften the PVC pipe enough to bend or twist it slightly and to make bumps both from the inside and outside by pressing on the heated pipe with a small rounded object like a round headed bolt for example.

Didgeridoo links

Become a rocket scientist NASA rocket science pages and interactive rocket modeler for kids. A site where kids can design their own rockets using real math and science. Choose construction materials, propellant, design types and other inputs for exact readout of the rocket dimensions. When parameters will not work, the program shows "unstable" in a red box.
RocketModeler II Version 2.1f

A link to kids NASA pages that explain the math and science principles involved in designing a rocket. Beginner's Guide to Rockets Take the Guided Tour, a more structured approach to the information.

Want to design a kite to fly on Mars? Now you can with this nifty kite modeling program developed by a team of NASA scientists from the Glenn Research Center.
Interactive Kite Modeler Version 1.4a

Take the Guided Tour and let NASA explain the math and science principles of kite building and flying.


Making fun bubbles No need to buy when you can make your own bubble making solutions using common ingredients. The basic formula is water, soap and a small amount of glycerine or syrup (the magic ingredient for really big bubbles). There are many formulas available but experimentation will produce the best results. Successful bubbles depend on purity of ingredients, cleanliness of cups and tools and the weather. Less wind the better and higher humidity, like after a rain, increase the duration of the bubbles.

©Steve Ford Elliott

Typical formula:
1 cup distilled water
2 tablespoons soap.
1 tablespoon glycerine or Karo Syrup

Purity of water is important and distilled water, readily available in gallon jugs, will ensure it. Using the right type of soap is also important. Use liquid hand washing soap or detergent. Don't use soaps and detergents made for dish washers and washing machines. They have anti-sudsing agents in them which are not good for making bubbles. Glycerine is the magic ingredient for reducing the surface tension of bubbles enabling them to grow really big. It's readily available in drug stores but an economical alternative is using Karo Syrup. However, the sugar content may end up attracting unwanted bugs.

Bubble making tools There are many bubble wands available for sale but they can easily be made from wire coat hangers. Basically a loop or circle on one end and the other end for a handle. Straws can also be used but for bigger bubbles, a paper cone works well.

How To Make Monstrous, Huge, Unbelievably Big Bubbles (Klutz)
A wonderful book all about making bubbles with instructions on how to make the secrete bubble solution. Comes with a bubble wand to make monster bubbles. Multiple award winner.
How to make Monstrous Huge unbelievably Big Bubbles Book

Making play dough A great medium for nurturing creativity. When young, our kids loved it and played for countless hours creating little figures and worlds. Easy to make using safe kitchen ingredients and equal in performance to ones in stores.

1 cup flour
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup salt
food coloring

Mix all of the ingredients into a sauce pan. Stir and cook over medium heat until smooth.
Remove from heat and cool until you can comfortably handle it without being burned. While it's still warm, knead until it is smooth.
Cool and store in a plastic bag.

For children old enough to know not to eat the dough, add essential oils to create fun smells.

Underwater Viewer This is a nifty gadget that enables kids to see clearly underwater. Fun to use in ponds and tide pools to see what's at the bottom, fish, plant life, aquatic creatures, junk or treasures. The concept is old and is still used by fishermen and pearl divers to see underwater from their boats.

Here's how to make one. Take a plastic milk or juice jug, wash thoroughly and cut the bottom out in a circular pattern. Use a kitchen plastic wrap about 14" square and cover the bottom. Use a rubber band to hold the plastic in place tightly. Then use a length of duct tape and tape around the edge of the plastic wrap to the jug. It's important to keep the wrap taught. The duct tape is to make a water tight seal, to prevent water from seeping inside the jug. To make viewing easier, the top can be cut to enlarge the hole but the jug handle should be left intact for easy handling.
©Peter Rol

How to play Spoons
A fast and fun card game that is our family favorite. One less spoon than the total number of players are placed in the center of the table. Four cards are dealt to each player. The dealer looks at the top card of the remaining deck to see if he or she can use it to help make a four of a kind. If not helpful, it's passed on the table to the player to his right or left. Players must hold four cards at all times so if the card they pick up is a keeper, one in the hand must be passed on. That player picks it up and checks to see if it's helpful, if not it's passed to the next player and so on. The dealer checks and passes cards off the deck as fast as possible. The game takes on inertia as more and more cards are being passed. Organization and decision making skills are taught as players must deal with an avalanche of cards coming in. When a card returns to the dealer it's discarded in a pile. The object of the game is for the first player to accumulate a four of a kind to grab a spoon. The rest of the players at this time must also grab a spoon, irregardless of what cards they are holding. Since there is one less spoon than the number of players, it now becomes a test of peripheral vision, awareness, reflex and hand speed. Players take turns being the dealer since they have the advantage of controlling the flow of cards to their liking and the fact that they don't have to pick the cards off the table.

When I was kid in Los Angeles in the late 1950s taps were the rage in my neighborhood. We weren't into dancing but for the distinct clicking sound made when walking on the sidewalk. We thought it was a blast plus there was the element of menace we liked to project to other kids. After all no one wanted to get kicked by one. It was all in fun though. We would get what they called horseshoe taps, shaped like a flat horse shoe that nailed to the shoe heel and smaller oblong shaped ones for the sides and the tip, from the local shoe repair man. The best part was at night you can run and slide on the taps making sparks. It was so cool. I don't see the horseshoe taps anymore but these would work. A note of caution though, the schools ended up banning them as they were destructive to floors and kids were slipping and getting hurt.
screw on taps
screw on taps

Pop-pop boat construction links. What the heck is a pop-pop boat?

Slater Harrison's instructional pages. He's a science teacher with a wealth of information not only about these boats but other fun science projects.

Marc Horovitz's
"how to" page for a more advanced (metal) boat. He is the author of the definitive web site on pop-pop boats.

Scitoys "Science Toys You Can Make With Your Kids" Great site with a large selection of simple yet fascinating science toy projects. They provide detailed instructions and also sell necessary components.

Yann's Model Airplanes Designer and builder of cool ultra-light, electric-powered, radio-controled airplanes with unusual designs that everyone can build.

Magnet Man Web site devoted to magnetism and cool experiments to do.


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