Ingredients: A ball of string and scissors, paints, pins, cardboard, wooden board, etc…

The Big Sell: What on earth could you do with just a ball of string?!

 Strategy:

Leave some bored kids together and they come up with the best ideas. One of the most exciting purchases my son requested over the summer was a ball of string, just for him. It’s amazing what he came up with by himself and when playing with cousins.

One lazy afternoon I came in the room to find he had wrapped zig-zagging string around every available door knob, chair back, banister to create a wild maze from floor to child head-height. It turns out this could be either a spider web or laser beams (in the diamond heist scene from Wallace & Gromit and The Wrong Trousers style) from which he had to escape from the middle without touching the string. This required minimal other props – maybe just his large rubbery spider toy to balance in the middle and some dexterity on his part as he clambered around. As long as you don’t mind not being able to walk across the room for the day, this game kept them going for ages!

 Other great string ideas, include:

• The old classic of joining two yoghurt pots with a long piece of string to make a primitive phone

• Use glue to stick interesting string patterns to a square of hard cardboard, allow it to dry then roll on sticky paint to make a print-making tool – you can use this to make free wrapping paper!

• Push nails or thumb tacks into a block of wood and wrap string around in the shape of a cobweb. This could either be for a mini-beast project to which you add toy insects, or you add small wooden pegs to make an innovative display board for your artwork or Christmas cards.

The Verdict: You really can make something (or things) from nothing. Arm a tool box with the bare essentials – winged pins, pipe-cleaners, sellotape, old nuts and bolts, lolly sticks, of course string (basically anything that sits unloved in the bottom of drawers) – and watch the kids blow your mind with possibilities!

Catchphrase: Watch me get past the laser beams Mummy!

Left wanting more?

Attach some small offcuts of wood or hard pieces of card using masking tape to two long parallel pieces of string to make a v dangerous rope bridge which can be strung between the backs of two chairs, then force all kinds of small toys / cars / trains to cross in the most perilous journey of their lives!!

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