Introduction: Making the Magic School Bus

Picture of Making the Magic School Bus

Hello! So my bf wanted to go as The Magic School Bus and Miss Frizzle for Halloween this year, and I couldn't help making this tutorial to share the fun! After doing research and collecting materials, I would have to estimate the cost of the bus to be around $40-$50. I mostly shopped at Dollar Tree and local thrift stores- as cheap as possible! Thanks for looking =) 

Bus Materials:

-foam boards, 4-5 panels, Dollar Tree
-yellow poster boards, 6 (buy extras incase of accidents), Dollar Tree
-cardboard display panel, 1
-white, grey, and black spray paints
-pool noodle (or anything that can resemble a bumper)
-2 medium sized touch lights (found mine at Dollar Tree)
-white poster board, 2 sheets, Dollar Tree
-car reflectors (red and orange at Walmart)
-1 medium sized box
-face mirrors, 2 (Dollar Tree)

-box knife
-blue painters tape
-bolts and screws
-hot glue gun and glue
-masking tape

Step 1: Bus Structure

Picture of Bus Structure

I started out by simply constructing the base part of the bus by folding the display panel inside and gluing the foam boards on each side, making the walls. I found a box which would fit snuggly on the cardboard exposed section, unfortunately this was pure luck as I found it in my garage. I glued the yellow poster board onto the foam board panels along with white spray paint for a shiny look. I also gave each side a metal bar to avoid using more poster board to cover up white space. Next, use masking tape to attach curved wires to set as the base for the roof. (In the picture below, I just folded over a piece of poster board to see how it would look, I didn't attach it yet.)

Step 2: Bus Back and Coverings

Picture of Bus Back and Coverings

With another foam board, measure the back empty space and cut accordingly and glue back into place. This would be a good time to cut a hole in the bottom of the bus; make sure it is not interfering with the wire section for the roof! That is where the body of the wearer will be. Cover the medium sized box with yellow poster board and spray paint for detail.

Step 3: Windshield and Roof

Picture of Windshield and Roof

Cut a poster board panel into the shape of the windshield. (I had to eyeball this since I couldn't trace the wire contour directly onto the foam board.) Trace windshield shape onto yellow poster board, and cut two squares out for the main window panels. From there, eyeball where to spray paint streaks using painter's tape. Then glue down the yellow poster board once you are happy with the windshield streaks. Making minor adjustments, cut and fold yellow poster board over curved wire, forming the roof. Tape like crazy into place! Make sure everything is sturdy before continuing.

Step 4: Details 1

Picture of Details 1

Now for the bus details... Slice up the white poster board into straight long rectangles for the grill of the bus. I used metallic spray paint but simple grey and black is fine too. Hot glue rectangles into place. Stick on the reflectors and LED lights in the front and back. spray paint the back of the mirrors to make them look metallic. Screw the wood screws into front of the box. This is where the touch lights will hang. Spray paint anything that can resemble eyeballs, I used mini air discs from the dollar store. Once dry, glue them into place onto touch lights. I also added a rim to the windshield panel, and curved light heads for the LED lights.

Step 5: Details 2

Picture of Details 2

Spray paint the pool noodle grey with white streaks to resemble metal. I then glued caps to the grey spray paint cans to finish off the ends of the bumper, which you will see in the next step. Once everything is dry, hot glue mirrors on sides and add an oval panel on front for decoration. In many episodes, the bus has different symbols on the front- I did a simple rainbow. I left the sides blank since I cannot afford a nice printer, but I was going to print out pictures of the kids in windows on each side. Attach any extra poster board necessary! Add straps underneath if you want!

Step 6: Done!

Picture of Done!


Put batteries in everything, and light up the neighborhood! This was a great costume idea when we passed out candy... the kids loved it! We also had the Magic School Bus theme song playing. =) We don't have an iPad or iPhone, or we would have made the music portable going from door to door! 

I really hope you enjoyed this tutorial and hope it was clear as well as coherent  . Happy Halloween!


JohnS1183 made it! (author)2016-10-31

Thanks for the write-up! Our costume was a huge hit. We made a few minor adjustments:
*A $9 pair of black suspenders from Walmart made holding the bus much easier

*We cut small slits in the side of the bus to poke the sideview mirrors through instead of taping them.

*A copious amount of duct tape was used on the inside of the bus to keep it together.

*We couldn't find mini frisbees at the dollar store, so we spray painted $3 adhesive doorknob wall protectors (Walmart) for pupils.

*Spray paint kept flecking off the pool noodle, so we decided to duct tape the noodle and hot glue it to the bus.

*Although we found small LED touch lights for the upper headlights at the dollar store, the larger ones we had to buy at Walmart (they weren't included in the original write-up, nor was the duct tape or mini frisbees)

*We didn't end up needing white spray paint

reeves.danielle made it! (author)2014-11-02

Thank you so much for sharing. The costume was a huge success!

Looks great!! So much fun.

EducationSmellsSweet (author)2012-11-05

Oh this is adorable! I bet children who saw you thought this was top dog!

poofrabbit (author)2012-11-05

Great idea!!!! I adore that the headlight light up!

ecsaul23 (author)2012-11-05

Very cool idea, not something you see often. I love that you added the lights.

mikeasaurus (author)2012-11-05

Cute idea for a costume, I think it came out great!

"C'mon Bus, do your stuff!"

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