-A fun project to do with kids you're babysitting, siblings, friends, or just by yourself!
-Altoids tins are some of the coolest creations on earth. They smell good, they're a convenient size, they look great, and they can be used for all sorts of needs!
-This is a chameleon project. It can always change and improve with you.
Disclaimer: It's not my original idea. Several have come up with it, and I took the ideas of many hard workers. Thanks so much!
Step 1: What You Need
Plastic bag to put extra mints in
Various tiny objects around the house!
Here's what we used:
Gum and mints (coughaltoidscough)
Tiny game timers
Quarters for parking meters and vending machines
Small action figures
Keychain action figures
Homemade lego checkers/chess
Papers with checker/chessboards, tic tac toe pads, and addresses cut to fit lids
Swisstech folding tool device thing (my brother's)
You get the picture. However, you don't need to collect these things until after you've started the 4th step. Also, if you don't think it will all fit, collect it all anyway. You'll narrow it down later. Please read on!
Step 2: Prepare Tins
Give the tin a quick rinse to get rid of the powder inside and dry thoroughly. Your mints and tissues etc. will be ruined by a little damp.
Save whatever mints you need for your tin.
You're ready to go!
Step 3: Brainstorm!
Good ideas: fun toys or activities, things you're always wishing you had, useful items, and things that may come in handy for you or others in a tight fix. If you're doing it in a group, it's fun to brainstorm ideas together.
Once you've brainstormed together, each person should write what he wants on his own sheet of paper. Then it's on to the next step!
Step 4: Collect!
If you plan to make a notebook or chessboard or the like, save that for last so your whole group can do it together. Once you have everything (except the group activities), meet together at a big table or floor and get started!
Step 5: Pack
It's always surprising how turning something 90 degrees, sticking a few legos together, and eliminating a couple tissues or quarters can change the way your entire mint tin fits. Play around with it until you get the best fit.
If you can't close the box or you still have some stuff left over, just prioritize. What do you need/want the very most? Include that first.
Another quite useful idea is to use the rubber bands that will hold your tin shut as straps that can attach notebooks, keychains, or chapstick to the outside (see picture).
The third picture, since it won't allow me to make image notes, is of some random discarded articles that didn't fit. Rock, mini lincoln logs, mini tinker toys, etc.
Step 6: Make the Good Stuff!
Trace a certain size of paper that you want. It should be small enough to fit in the altoid tin, of course.
Cut a certain amount of papers this size, using whatever method you wish.
Place this stack of papers on the inside of an opened-up cereal box. The top edge of your stack of papers should line up with a crease of your choice of the cereal box. Cut around the stack of paper, and (important) include about a centimeter of extra cardboard from *above* the crease and paper as well. This extra cardboard will later wrap around the top edge of paper, forming a small lip over the front surface of your notepad. The area that you cut around the paper will form the back, to lean on.
After cutting around your papers, it's time to staple your notebook together. Take about half of the paper and staple it to the "back" section of cardboard. Then add the second half of paper and staple it to the first. Try to keep it all lined up.
Fold over the centimeter of extra cardboard and glue it down. Some clamping will be necessary (use your hands or a heavy object)
You have your notebook!
To make it look nice, choose a nice section of your cereal box, perhaps a section with less text and more image.
In the image below, the orange is the cereal box. The white is the stack of paper. The pink is the crease. Push the Top edge of paper up to the Crease. Then, cut the cardboard around the paper, so that the cardboard is suddenly the back of your notepad and also the lip over the front of your notepad. This lip helps to hold the pages together.
*suggestions to help the clarity of this section are appreciated
Chess set instructions:
Magnetic strip from the store; old thin, flat refrigerator magnets; or, to make it easy, buy tiny round magnets.
Several one-stud legos or clay molded to look like pieces. We used legos.
Pick out your set. Pawns in chess = checker pieces = tic tac toe pieces, to save room.
Cut or hole punch pieces of magnet to fit the bottoms of the lego pieces. This makes the set much more portable. Even weak magnets help more than nothing at all.
Cut squares for square legos. Hole punch for circle legos. Circles are, of course, far easier!
Add a small amount of glue to the edges (not the cavern) of the bottom surface of each lego. If you want, let it get tacky by leaving it for a bit, or use superglue (don't get it all over your house or fingers!). Two methods: 1) Squirt it delicately onto the surface. 2) dip the lego's bottom/base into a dollop of glue on wax paper and spin it around a bit. Both methods are messy.
Press your magnet, magnetic side facing OUT, into the glue.
Let dry overnight. You have your sets!
Also, you'll want game boards. Trace around the BOTTOM (base) of an altoids tin on paper and then cut out this piece of paper. I didn't take measurements for the squares, but you can do this yourself. Measure a square on this piece of paper, then divide the length of each side by eight. Draw lines that are as far apart as this new measurement (side/8). You will have an 8x8 grid. Then, using a sharpie, color in half the squares black in a checkerboard pattern.
Then simply insert it inside the TOP (lid) of your altoids tin. If you were careful cutting it out, this piece might stick there by itself. If not, use some glue, but DON'T put the glue where it will prevent the magnets from sticking.
Step 7: Complete
PS don't forget, your altoids tin never has to stay the same. Never wind up using that little game timer? Replace it with the tissues you couldn't fit before.