What do you do with empty “Altoids” tins?
Well, if you were my dad, you would save them for all kinds of projects. Not that I ever in my whole life saw him eat a single Altoid, you understand. But people would save this type of thing for him, or he would get boxes of them at yard sales, knowing they would come in handy one day. And if you were me, you would still have most of those Altoid tins today. The first picture shows my box of all different sizes of tiny nails, brads, and screws, which Daddy had neatly sorted and labeled years ago. And, if you haven’t guessed by now, the unlabeled ones are empty. Along, I might add, with a whole bunch more at my mom’s house. (If you’ve read “Why Teachers Shouldn’t Be Mosaic Artists”, you’ll know that this kind of stuff is in my genes.)
So when a friend sent me a picture from Pinterest of a little paper doll with a background scene inside of an Altoids container, only one thing popped into my mind. What could be more fun than Foster and Panda play sets?I haven’t shared them yet, but awhile back I got the idea to make Foster and Panda paper dolls. I had no clue what I was going to do with them, I just wanted to make them. For awhile they sat on the end table next to my recliner, and the way they seemed to be looking at me reminded of my blogging friend Chris (Luna’s On Line) in South Africa, an author whose characters have been known to hold meetings and provide her with their input (albeit unsolicited) on her writing and their “plans” to be in another book. If you’ve never read her work, you have to see this: “The Characters’ Verdict,” and from there you can click around and read more. The first thing I did was get out the empty Altoids tins. Then it was on to the computer to resize the paper dolls into miniatures. They fit, so the next thing was to make a backdrop for them. I decided on their adventure in the Swiss Alps for this set. I can’t tell you how many tries it took before I got everything the size I wanted it. My trusty helper was on hand as usual.And, also as usual, he got bored and decided to take a nap.So here they are with the Swiss Alps backdrop.Had to check to see if they would still fit if the box was closed. Next was the job of figuring out how to decorate the front and back of the box.
This is just a “prototype”, with the front and back taped on to give the idea of what it would look like. Then, as an afterthought, I decided they needed snow. I plan to trade the “snow” for piece of white felt, because they don’t stand up too well on polyester fiberfill.
Now, if I were going to make these to sell or give as gifts, there is no way I plan on cutting out each of the paper dolls individually. So I made this option so the recipients just have to cut out the dolls by themselves.Then I thought, what if the recipient had their own Altoids box? Maybe I could make a sort of kit, where they would have everything they needed to put together their own play set, including instructions. And what if there were other stories that could be made into separate sets?
For “A Trip to the Farm” and “Firefighters in Training”, I was going to need at least the chicken and the dog, since after all, the penguin made it into the Swiss Alps play set.For things like this I usually work from PowerPoint slides. I’ve always had an easier time when I need to insert, resize and move objects around the page on PowerPoint than I do on Word. Then I can save the PowerPoint as a PDF, which is what I did for this post. Yes, (for a limited time only) you will be able to download and print your very own Foster and Panda play sets, absolutely free! (Eventually I may add them to my digital downloads for people to purchase, but I haven’t gotten that far yet.) So for now all you need are your own empty Altoids tins and a printer! I used card stock for mine, but I’m sure regular paper will work too. It’s a perfect “quiet time” activity that can be easily transported in Mom’s purse and presented to little hands when they need something constructive to do.
To download and print your own play sets (the three you see in the picture above), click below:
“Just checking: are you done, Mom?”