I am the proud father of twin girls. One of our girls loves to come up with projects, which usually amounts to cutting paper into hundred of pieces, gluing a few together, and leaving the rest all over the house. So last fall when she asked for a box to make a fire truck, I jumped at the chance to make it bigger and better - and to help her think "outside the box."
Step 1: Gather Supplies
Our daughter wanted to make a firetruck out of a cardboard box. At first she was thinking small, like a shoe box, but then decided on something bigger that maybe she could sit in. The school I work at was replacing some of the desks with tables, and I was fortunate enough to be able to snag a couple of the boxes. Other items we needed included:
1. A tarp to cover the garage floor.
2. Spray paint - buy extra so you don't have to send your wife out for more.
3. Paint for details. We used basic craft paint from the big box store in town.
4. Paint brushes - We used sponge brushes, but they didn't work as well as we'd hoped.
5. Stencils for lettering, shapes, etc.
6. Pencils for the stencils.
7. Straight edges - ruler, tape measures, etc.
8. Box cutter
For this project, we chose not to tape the boxes shut, because we wanted to be able to pack them up and store them easily.
Step 2: Let the Painting Begin!
I wanted this to be her project, so I gave her some basic instructions on how to use the spray paint safely and let her try it on her own for a while.
Note: Be sure the room is well ventilated, and that your kids wear old grungy clothes.
Step 3: Use Teamwork
Since I brought home two boxes, her sister decided she wanted to make an ambulance, so we let her get started on her box.
Spray-painting is a lot of work, and after a while your fingers get sore. So our girls decided to take turns helping each other out. Mom even got in on the action for a while.
Eventually, the girls decided to let daddy finish because they "wanted the boxes to look nice."
Step 4: Add Details
A few days later, after the paint had dried thoroughly, we added the details.
1. We traced a bowl for the headlights.
2. We traced a plate for the wheels.
3. I taped stencil letters on the sides for the words, which the girls traced.
4. I helped line up the ruler/tape measure so the girls could draw the ladder and cross, as well as the windows and a back door.
5. The girls painted what they had traced, while I stood back and took pictures.
6. After the paint dried, I cut out the windows and doors using a box cutter.
Step 5: Watch Their Imaginations Take Off!
The girls had a great time making their box vehicles. They got to pick what they wanted to do, and how they wanted to design it (yes, that's why the ambulance has a triangle window). They were very proud of what they made, and have spent many hours putting out fires and rescuing baby dolls and stuffed animals who need a doctor.
Although this may not necessarily be a true Instructable per say, I hope this gives you an idea for a fun activity you and your children can do together.