Spark some five-alarm fun with this whimsical playset made from recyclables. Inside-out cereal boxes are the building blocks for this drive-in fire station.
PREPARE THE BOXES. For a better painting surface, open 4 cereal boxes along the seams, reassemble them inside out, then tape over the seams. (We used masking tape because it's easy to paint over.) Draw doors and a window on the front box as shown.
CUT THE OPENINGS. Cut out the doors and window, leaving one side of each uncut for a hinge. Create a bay by cutting a series of openings through all 4 boxes. Tip: Cut out one 6- by 7-inch rectangle, then use it as a template for the other 6 openings (we didn't cut an opening in the back of the last box).
MAKE THE BELL TOWER. Turn an oatmeal box inside out. Tape it closed but leave the bottom unsealed for access. Trim the box as shown, then paint it (we used tempera). For the roof, score a line down a piece of cardboard as shown. Bend the cardboard in half along the line, then secure the roof with strips of masking tape inside the box.
FASHION A FIRE POLE. Wrap duct tape around a straw, then attach it to a milk cap with a glue dot.
PUT IT ALL TOGETHER. Line up the openings in the cereal boxes, then glue the boxes together (we used 8 to 12 glue dots per box). Paint the boxes and allow them to dry. Secure the bell tower on top with glue dots. Finally, place a sign on the front of the engine house. (We made our sign with paper and a paint marker and attached it with glue dots.)
To make Spark's abode, follow the directions for the bell tower (we used a tea box) and cut out a doorway as shown.
Firefighters race to the scene in this egg-carton rescue vehicle, complete with straw water hose.
CUT THE TRUCK BODY. Use scissors or a craft knife (a parent's job) to cut and remove 4 rows of cups from an egg carton as shown below. Save the cups. Paint the truck body and allow it to dry.
FASTEN THE WHEELS. Mark 2 holes on each side of the truck as shown. Make starter holes in the centers of 4 milk caps with a pushpin. Widen the holes with scissors or a craft knife (a parent's job), then attach the caps to the truck with 1-inch paper fasteners as shown.
TAPE ON THE AERIAL PLATFORM. Use a hinge of duct tape to attach a plastic fruit cup to the end of the boom. Here, it's flipped up for travel.
PICK A NUMBER Personalize your vehicle with an engine number (we drew ours with a paint marker).
ATTACH THE HOSE Poke a hole in the back of the truck, then thread a bendable straw through it. To keep the straw from slipping out, wrap tape around the part that is inside the truck. Pinch the end of a second straw and insert it into the end of the first, then attach a third straw to the second.
Cut a square from a plastic coffee-can lid, draw the sign with permanent marker, and attack it with 2 glue dots to a straw wrapped with duct tape as shown. Affix the sign to a milk cap base with a glue dot.
Two nesting aluminum-foil boxes make up this extension of your fire truck.
1. For safety, remove the metal cutters from 2 aluminum-foil boxes. Use two sizes so that one can slip inside the other (we used boxes from a 25- and a 50-square-foot roll). Reassemble the boxes inside out using masking tape (as you did with the cereal boxes). Cut them as shown. For easier assembly, cut a small square in the closed end of the bigger box (see step 2 photo). Paint the pieces and allow them to dry. (Ours are unpainted here for clarity.)
Make 3 holes in the support: one on the bottom and one on each of the taller sides as shown. Push a paper fastener from the inside through the bottom hole and then through a milk cap, first making a pushpin hole in the cap, as you did with the wheels. Then make a hole on either side of the base (only one is visible in the photo).
3. Attach the support to the base with paper fasteners, insert the extension into the base, tape on the fruit-cup aerial platform, and use black electrical tape to decorate the boom as shown. Tip: To keep the extension from slipping out of the base, attach a piece of craft foam or foam tape (with the backing in place) to the outside of the extension as shown, and one just inside the open end of the base.
4. Make a hole in the bottom of the truck bed where the boom support will sit, then insert the paper fastener as shown to attach the boom to the truck.
Use bottle caps and the leftover egg-carton cups to make these on-the-scene spectators and firefighters .
THE BODIES Paint the egg-carton cups. Let them dry, then use glue dots to affix a bottle cap on top of each. Draw faces with permanent markers.
THE HAIR Cut a strip from a plastic bag, fringe the ends, and affix it to the head with a glue dot. Attach pipe cleaner hair ties, if desired.
THE HATS Cut brims from plastic lids, then attach one to each head with a glue dot. Affix a bottle cap to each brim with 2 glue dots (we stretched our glue first), set just inside the cap rim.
To make Sparky, draw features and spots on a whipped-cream cap with permanent markers. For his ears, cut a strip from black paper, then attach the strip to the cap with a glue dot.
Cut several cereal boxes into sections of road, tape them together, then lay them in place.