The Super Builders

One rainy day, after watching a few too many episodes of  the Amazon show “Annedroids” , Myla said, “I want to build something!  I want to be an inventor.  Hey mom, can we build stuff out of other stuff, too?”

Not one to turn down an awesomely creative educational opportunity, I asked her what she wanted to build.

“ROBOTS!” she exclaimed. “We can even make one that helps with chores, and does the dishes.  Maybe even one that talks to us and plays Legos.  Can we make one that cleans?”

Um.  Well, since I don’t happen to have earned a degree in robotics and engineering, I was stalled out.  Until I remembered this:

One year while visiting my parents, my nieces decided to take apart some old electronics and build stuff.  They just took it all apart and hot-glued it all together.  Because that’s the kind of awesome stuff they do.  One of them came up with this one, and sent it to us–it’s a portrait of Myla painting!


Isn’t it AWESOME?  The curly hair!  The eyes!  The “paints,” and even the little collaboration taped to the easel.

I offered that as a suggestion, and Myla jumped at it.  We dug around the garage for some old electronics, but since I had recently donated or dumped most of them, a trip to the thrift store yielded a good harvest:  $5 for an old broken cassette player and a video tape rewinder.   The height of technology at the time, they now served a much more artistic purpose by yielding parts for our creations.


The cool thing was getting her familiar with some tools, which is a good skill for any kid to have.  I unscrewed the main body of the pieces, and taught her a little about wire clippers and screwdrivers.  This all involved a lot of work on my part, but it kept her busy and interested, just trying to figure out the tools and tiny pieces.  (Plus she looks super cool in her dad’s sunglasses, which doubled as eye protection, since I didn’t have any kid-goggles.)

A big bowl came in handy to keep all the little parts in for later.  That would be where we’d keep all the tiny pieces and what we could dig through to build more out of later, and she got a kick out of seeing all the little pieces inside.


I plugged in our trusty low-temp kid’s glue gun–those are the ones that heat at lower temps to make it a little easier for kids to use.  Still, since she had a bad experience with it ages ago (she directly touched the hot glue), she was hesitant to use it.  Instead, I let her tell me what went where, and I helped her glue.  I showed her, too, how the glue dries VERY quickly, and as long as you don’t touch it right away, it’s pretty harmless.

I just remember being warned so often about the dangers of power tools (my grandad cut the tip of his thumb off once, and I’ve heard tons of Wood Shop horror stories) that I have to fight through my fear of them sometimes.  I’d rather teach her the right way to use them, than just have her be afraid.


So here’s what we created!  A remote control cat, and a tiny gear robo-mouse!  So what if they can’t move on their own.  They were fun to make, and we had a great time building them!

cat mouse

This is the first little face I made as a quick example to show her how you can make things out of the junk parts…


Later, I was inspired by an Instagram artist who fixed his friend’s Ever After doll by building her a steampunk leg–and I realized I could use some of the broken electronics to make a prosthetic arm for a Monster High doll that Myla had acquired, whose arm was missing.

I had some tiny watch parts from a jewelry project I had in my craft supplies, and just hot-glued a little hook-arm together for her.

robo arm
Anyway, it’s a rainy day again today.  Maybe we’ll have to be inventors again.  Ah, sciencing!  It’s the best!


12 responses

  1. Sent from my iPad


  2. Oops. Sent two mistakes to you. So here is why,,,

    Actually I LOVE everything about you in your roller derby & army background & tattooing yourself. I LOVE how you collaborate w Myla but encourage but never DO for her. I think that is such a good lesson for ALL ADULTS, PARENTS, TEACHERS ( I was one). I love what you do & how you show & share what you are doing.

    The first time I was introduced to you was AT CHURCH). Our minister, a new dad at the time) beamed your collaborative drawings up on the wall in the sanctuary as the main focus of his sermon. I think it was about sharing & being inclusive & working w others. Can’t remember but ever since then I send your stuff to ppl I think would be interested. This one is going to my son in law for when my 2 yr old grandson is a bit older.

    Carry on. I love how you create your critters & although I’m not into monsters, they are growing on me. Peace, roz kvet in Chardon, OH

    Sent from my iPad


    1. What a wonderful thing to hear; it blows my mind that people in other places would be talking about the little projects we do! It’s all a learning experience for me, because I’m naturally someone who DOES want to “take over,” but I realize she’ll never learn if I do. So I try my best to let her feel like she’s free-flying (when it’s actually under a pretty supervised environment!)!

  3. I hope I’m as cool of a mom as you one day! Sciencing is indeed the best–as are robots!!

    1. Thank you! I’m only cool by being SUPER dorky. 🙂 LOL But robots= SUPER cool!

  4. Love that you are teaching Myla to use tools. I volunteered at school a lot when my children were there, and found it frustrating that most of the tools I wanted to use in the classroom were not allowed because they might be dangerous. Even sharp scissors were not allowed in upper primary, and the students were frustrated because blunt scissors didn’t even cut paper neatly.

    1. Yep, it’s amazing the things that have to be “safe” now–like the daycare nearby requires shoes with no open air-holes (not even those tennis-shoe sandals) because (and this is what they told me:) “a stick or something might get stuck in there, and they might trip and hurt themselves.” Um. Okay? I’ve always thought that if she hurts herself doing something, she’ll either learn NOT to do it anymore, or learn how to do it better (within reason, of course!).

  5. Very cool! How wonderful of you to be so supportive of your daughter and her interests. She gives you these windows of opportunity to introduce her to different facets of creativity and you jump right on in. Someone else might say to their kid, “Yeah,yeah, robots, yeah, I don’t know anything about robots.” But you got some cool stuff together for her to look at and rearrange. I think you’re awesome!

    1. Yeah, I DON’T know anything about robots! But I always forget that kids are happy with MUCH less than I expect. And when she gives me ideas like that, I do my best to try to find a version of it that would work for us. I always say if she has an idea and I CAN do it, and the only reason I’m not is if I’m being lazy, then I try my best to go ahead and do it! If anything, it’s time spent together!

  6. this is so super crafty of your daughter and of course kudos to you for being a fab mom!! 🙂

  7. How cool! Your first thought when a kid asked to make a robot (mine would be) impossible! Because I wouldn’t be thinking through a kids mind. I would think they actually wouldn’t be happy unless it was a walking talking robot! In kids eyes, that is what they imagine, but are quite capable of being pleased with the efforts, and a “sculpture”, the rest is then, in their imagination! Great project, great blog! Oh, your sister and Dad were in on the project mentioned with your two nieces, it kept all 4 of them busy for a full day! Seriously!

    1. Yeah, it’s funny sometimes how something so simple can keep you busy for a good chunk of the day! Myla spent TWO HOURS one day, just writing and drawing a book. And you’re totally right about how she’s happy with much simpler versions of what’s in my head!

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