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How to Make a Laptop (in 17 Easy Steps)

14 Feb

It’s no secret that I’m a hybrid wannabe. Here’s the thing, though: the biggest reason why I don’t do much hybrid stuff is because I never have enough time (or motivation) to get out a whole bunch of yummy, textural stuff then create stuff with actual scissors and glue and rulers and cutters while making sure that my younger kids don’t accidentally, say, touch the hot glue gun and then clean everything up after. Phew! See how tiring that was just to read? Can you imagine actually doing it? (Hybrid experts, I salute you!) ๐Ÿ˜€

So when one of my sons takes home a school project that requires parental participation, I sigh and scratch my head, but really, I’m secretly delighted because I have no choice! I have got to get down on my knees and put my hybrid skillz (whatever little I have ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) to work!

This weekend, it was my six-year-old boy’s turn to be my school-project-partner. The task: Create a toy laptop using at least 5 different recycled or old materials.

Nice.

Well then… there was nothing to do but get to work! (And maybe get the camera out, too, so that in case you ever find yourself having to create a toy laptop from recycled materials, you just might find some cool ideas here! ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

STEP 1: Do the caveman thing: hunt and gather!

First order of the day: Collect all the junk you can get your hands on. Never mind if you won’t end up using half of them. It’s just nice to know that you’ve got enough junk to create with (and by using them, you make space for even more junk to collect! Win!)

STEP 2: Have the essentials ready.

Essentials in this particular case would be the project instructions, your hand-drawn diagram of what the finished project might look like, a list of possible materials to use for each part, and yes, that ever-essential super-mug of coffee (or Diet Mt. Dew or hot cocoa, or whatever makes your little hybrid heart happy).

Step 3: Rule it!

Grab the biggest carton that you can find. (I knew there was a good reason to hold on to that box of my laptop stand! ๐Ÿ˜† ). Get the metal rulers out (a metal ruler doesn’t get nicks like plastic rulers do, in case your cutter decides to get naughty and cross paths with it). Start trimming off the edges you won’t need.

Step 4: Get a super-cute hybrid helper.

Just because it’s always fun to work with a cutie. ๐Ÿ™‚

Step 5: Slot it.

Cut little slots into the sides to create flaps, which will then become the fortified sides of your box.

Step 6: Nip and tuck.

Or, actually, fold and tuck… the sides of the box. Use masking tape to keep the flaps down, in case your carton is thick and refuses to stay down.

This is going to form the body of the laptop. (I’m just sayin’… you know… just in case the box starts to resemble something a pizza would be delivered in… which I think it kinda did for a while. And that’s how I knew we needed to break for a snack ๐Ÿ˜† ).

Step 7: Tape and cut.

Oookay. When your tummy is settled and happy, get one side of an old gift box and measure it so that it fits inside your main carton. This will form the base upon which your keyboard will rise. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Tape the sides of the keyboard base. Then cut out 4 strips (measured to fit in the inner part of the other side of your main box). The leftover carton trimmed from the box comes in handy for these little pieces.

Step 8: Got foam?

If your old box came with packing foam inside it, like mine did, do the happy dance! If it didn’t, any semi-stiff material that you can find lying around will do the lift-up job.

Let me explain the how’s and why’s:

Cut up strips of foam and stick them around the sides of the keyboard base. Oh, and the middle part too! This will take care of the extra cushioning you’ll need so that the keyboard base doesn’t lurch inward once eager kid-fingers start “typing” on the keyboard.

Step 9: Bring out the gun.

Turn the keyboard base over, take your glue gun and shoot glue over the sides where the keyboard edges meet with the lower part of the carton.

Step 10: Slice and dice.

Take the leftover carton and cut little strips for the trackpad (scissors come in handy for curving the corners of the trackpad) and then cut the strips into little squares to form the keys.

Stick all of these temporarily with masking tape on any expendable piece of carton, just so you can see how the keys will all line up (plus it makes it much easier to paint them, which is the next step coming up).

Step 11: Go forth and spray.

Step outside into the great green garden, carrying old newspapers to protect the grass… and spray away with old paint left over from various projects.

Step 12: Be Sharp(ie)!

When the paint has dried, take your Sharpie pen and write the letters and symbols of the keys on the little painted cardboard squares.

TIP: It helps to copy from a real laptop! ๐Ÿ˜€

Step 13: Monitor, monitor.

Print out whatever image you want to use as your monitor image. For our project, I transformed my Facebook page into my son’s using Photoshop. I replaced the profile photo strip with photos of him working on the project. I included an imaginary conversation between his teacher and him, which was a great place to list all the materials he used on the project. ๐Ÿ˜€

Step 14: Have an apple.

Print out your logo, cut, and paste on the cover of your “laptop.” (I briefly considered using a mango or some other tropical fruit, but Apple won in the end. Hahaha).

Step 15: Watch the wires!

Take a pipe cleaner and bend it a bit. Stick this onto a strip of black leftover carton (folded in half to create both sides). Tape a tiny piece of cut-off pipe cleaner to form the other metal side of the plug. Stick back and front sides of folded carton with glue gun.

Step 16: Check it out!

Check if your laptop looks fine. Do a whoop and a victory battle cry together with your cutie hybrid helper!

Step 17: Fall in love…

… when you see the look of sheer delight and excitement on your little project-partner’s face!

And voila! You’re done! Wooooooot!!!

PS. And if it looks like your little ones aren’t going to sleep early that evening because they’ve “got work to do” on their laptop, don’t say I didn’t warn you! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Confessions of a Hybrid Wannabe

14 Jan

First confession: I actually have just one. One confession, and it’s simply this: I am a hybrid wannabe. HAHAHAHA! ๐Ÿ˜†

It helps to think this way every time my kids have some school project that requires “parental involvement” (which basically means you roll up your sleeves and go splashing in the mud with the kiddo).

Friday afternoon when I picked up J from school, I walked into what looked like a cloud (of thinly-veiled stress) hovering over my co-mothers. The reason: we just got a letter which basically said our kids would be having a mask-or-hat parade first thing on Monday morning, and the kids had to make their own masks “with help from their parents.” It would be graded as Homework. This meant only two things: (1) “make masks” = don’t even think of making a trip to the shops to buy a pre-made mask; and (2) “with help from parents” = goodbye, relaxing weekend.

The mask had to be a storybook character, and the kids had to be able to act in their character. Hmm. Wonder what the easiest mask to make would be? Mickey Mouse, right? (I mean, really, how hard can it be to trace one big circle and two smaller circles, stick them together, and paint them black and red? ๐Ÿ˜€ ).

But my son wanted to be Optimus Prime. I tried to convince him to explore other characters but he really wanted to be the Transformers chief. So I thought to myself, oh why the heck not? Let’s just go with what he wants; after all, it’s he who has to wear the mask and act in character. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So Sunday afternoon my son J and I set to work with leftover pizza carton boxes (good thing Son No. 2 had some school friends over on Friday evening, and lemme tell ya, those boys can eat a whole truck of pizza if you dared them). We gathered toilet paper and old newspapers and PVA glue (paper machie ingredients), foil, poster paint, colored popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, and whatever else we thought we’d be needing to make the mask. And just so you know? We ended up using about 10% of the loot that we collected. ๐Ÿ™„

Just in case your kid happens to come home one of these days with the same homework, I decided to share the mask-making process with you (heehee).

First order of the day: Trim the box to a more manageable size. (Also, resist the urge to order another box of pizza to eat while working ๐Ÿ˜† )

Then, roll box around the head of your kid and mark where the eyes, nose and mouth areas should be. This is to ensure that your kid doesn’t go bump in the night while he walks around with the mask, and that he doesn’t get dizzy from the leftover-pizza-smell on the box.

Cut out eye area from the carton and fit. (Be prepared to fit a lot during the process. Better to stop and fit rather than go from beginning to end without interruption, only to get into a fit when you realize the eye area is just the right fit for the… nostrils!)

Cut out the portion that will go over the nose and mouth area.

Don’t omit this most important part: Stay awake with coffee (or Diet Mountain Dew or Pepsi, if you rock that way ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). Because, my dear friend, at this point we’re not even halfway there ๐Ÿ˜›

Fueled by cafe, cut out the breathing area…

… and (behind the scenes) stick all the rest of the materials you have: more cut-up pizza carton, crumpled and squished newspaper, bottle caps from Florida Naturals juice, a couple of pipe cleaners to hold the mask in place over the head, and tape: lots and lots and lots of tape to hold it all together.

Oh, and I did say don’t forget to fit, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Next, check the time and decide NOT to do paper machie because your mask will never dry in the next 6 hours. So decide to take the mask outside under the stars (yes, the moon had risen by the time I got the entire thing modeled to go) and spray-paint it entirely with silver paint in a can. (It totally helps if your paint says “dries in 10-15 minutes”). Try not to sweat the small details (like when you realize that there’s a slight difference in the texture of the paint on carton versus paint on tape, just let it go… ๐Ÿ˜† ).

Then paint in details with acrylic paint. (I tried poster paint at first and almost freaked out when I realized the poster paint wouldn’t stick to the silver paint! It was doing its own kind of “crayon-resist” performance. Thank heavens for craft rooms filled with paper scrapping stuff that has been hoarded–and hardly used–over the years, mwahaha. Those things come in handy at exact times like this.)

Do a final fit to make sure everything’s fine (and make sure the tape at the back of the mask is patted down without any areas peeling off because you definitely don’t want parts of your kid’s eyebrows to come off together with the mask ๐Ÿ˜† ).

Let mask dry overnight, and reassure your kid that you both did a great job together, and it doesn’t really matter whether you win the mask contest or not because you had a lot of fun creating it together anyway, and that is what matters. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Then go do some work on the Spraground (if you live there like I do, lol!) and then force yourself to sleep at 3am because you’ve got a big day tomorrow watching your kid in his mask parade.

D-Day:

Optimus Prime meets Captain Hook meets Bugs Bunny meets two Cats in the Hat and…

A hop, a skip, and a jump…

And we’re done! ๐Ÿ˜€

PS. The kids in the primary grades voted for the winner. Guess who won?

Whoopee-doo! Whodathunk, huh? ๐Ÿ˜†

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