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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Recently, I converted the old layout I had resurrected to serve as a test bed for several now-completed projects, and before I stored it away I was inspired to redecorate and repurpose it as a holiday layout for the gerbils (my grandkids) to play with when they visit. As you can see in the linked video, so far for decoration I just threw on a few old out-of-scale accessories, but it still seemed pretty bare. That got me thinking, wondering if I could come up with some sort of craft project the kids could do quickly when they visit, and which would become part of the layout. What I came up with is the template for a simple card house, inspired by a venerable Plasticville O scale house (the prototype is in the middle, an earlier unsatisfactory attempt is on the right, and the final version is shown on the left):
Plant Wood Ruler Rectangle Office supplies


Part of the original template can be seen at the bottom, as well as the page of self-stick envelope labels on which I printed the doors and windows. I've attached a PDF scan of the cardstock template, as well as a PDF 'print' of an MS Word document for printing on a sheet of 1 inch by 2-5/8 inch address labels (Avery 8660 or 5630, or equivalent), or you can just print on plain paper, cut them out and glue them on, though the self-stick labels are much easier to trim and affix.

If you've ever played around with card stock structures, the assembly process should be relatively straightforward, even for kids, but a few tips and tricks might help:

- First, the PDF scan slightly shrank the image to fit within the printable area of my printer (a border margin of about a quarter inch). Thus, when you print the file, there will likely be an unprinted area at the margins, or the image may be printed at full scale and your printer's blank margin may cut off the edges of the template. If so, you may have to literally "fill in the blanks" of the printing, by extending the unprinted portion of the lines. Similarly, the forum did not let me attach the original Word document, so I exported it to the attached PDF file, and it may suffer from the same type of mis-alignment if you try to print on the label sheet. If you encounter problems, contact me and I'll email you the original Word template, or you can just print the PDF version on plain paper and cut and paste.

- Second, my plan was to first have the kids color and fill in the sides of the house as a flat sheet, adding the label 'stickers' (or other stickers or cutouts you might have at hand) before cutting out and assembling the house. Note: this is definitely less of a true artistic endeavor than what we day care workers used to call a "parent pleaser," a craft project designed to reliably produce something the parents can ooo and ahhh over, but there's no reason each kid can't make it their own, so be flexible!

- Third, after cutting the sides out, I found that folding the tabs over a rigid straightedge (such as a ruler) will facilitate the assembly process. Glue sticks are by far the easiest method; hot glue or superglue are also quick but require adult supervision! White glue will work, but takes much longer to stick and will dampen and wrinkle the card stock -- not fatal, but it might delay moving the completed house from the craft table to the layout.

Enjoy!
 

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· Railroad Tycoon
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BUMP.

What? It is not electronic! :)

That ought to keep them busy, and when they grow up the will remember Grand Dad's trains forever.
 
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· Railroad Tycoon
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Well, I did plan to drop an Arduino Nano inside, to control all the LEDs in the windows, the DF Player playing Christmas carols in the background, and the servo to open and close the front door . . . did I forget to mention that? :unsure:
Arduino Nano....had to google that.
How about an electronic Santa that pops out of the chimney? Flying reindeers pulling Santa? :)
Don't forget the RR hopper cars filled with gumdrops or Hersey kisses. :)
How old are they?
 
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Very cool project, thanks for sharing.
So I take it they are open to making a craft? How do you do it?
My grand niece just turned 8 going on 18 and she owns a smartphone.
Her brother is a little older but the same...no way they could ever get their mind out of their phone.
They are all about instant gradification...I gave up trying ...so sad.
I imagine these kids will be crippled in the future.
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Very cool project, thanks for sharing.
So I take it they are open to making a craft? How do you do it?
My grand niece just turned 8 going on 18 and she owns a smartphone.
Her brother is a little older but the same...no way they could ever get their mind out of their phone.
They are all about instant gradification...I gave up trying ...so sad.
I imagine these kids will be crippled in the future.
Thanks, SFG! Well, it's a bit of a leap of faith that we will actually be able to coax at least the two eldest of our local grandsons (three boys, one a first grader, one pre-K, the other still a seven month old infant) into coloring and adding stickers to the card stock sheets that have the outlines of the sides and roof of the house printed on them, and perhaps, with varying degrees of adult assistance and/or supervision, actually cut them out and glue them together. My goal, after seeing some simple child-decorated boxy structures that had obviously been prepared to be part of a holiday public train garden, was to draw up simple templates that could be easily completed in two dimensions (as flat sheets) by the children, and "transformed" into three dimensional objects, ones that can reside on and become a contributing part of the holiday layout. My thought is that even if it's just a kid's scribble, cutting out and glueing the parts together should yield a recognizable structure. The grandkids regularly use the chalkboard and the magna-tiles to do drawings and constructions when they visit, and we've done a few other craft-type projects, so we'll see. In a former life, I was a day care center teacher, so we'll also see if I have any surviving "child whisperer" skills! :sneaky:

I'll report how it went, but I encourage anyone with young kids to print out the templates on card stock and give it a go!
 

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Arduino Nano's are great for doing just those kind of things. Better still if you use programmable LEDs in a string then you mess with color and since the LED's are addressable you can do just about anything! Put an encoder switch on the Arduino to give you some manual selectability.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Arduino Nano's are great for doing just those kind of things. Better still if you use programmable LEDs in a string then you mess with color and since the LED's are addressable you can do just about anything! Put an encoder switch on the Arduino to give you some manual selectability.
Uhh, just to be clear, I was kidding about automating the card stock houses on my holiday layout, though I agree the ridiculously inexpensive Arduino boards and peripherals can be programmed to do just about all the things Big Ed and I were joking about! Given the toll my last Arduino project took on me to bring it to completion (which BTW used Adafruit Neopixel strips with addressable RGBW LEDs to create the lightning effect), it'll likely be a long time before I tackle the next! o_O
 

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I guess I had a completely different experience. I was curious about having a string of addressable LED's doing something like a theater chase while having one LED in the middle doing an arc welding sim. The Nano had no problem doing all this while also interrogating an encoder switch I used to change modes and brightness. It was a fun project.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I guess I had a completely different experience. I was curious about having a string of addressable LED's doing something like a theater chase while having one LED in the middle doing an arc welding sim. The Nano had no problem doing all this while also interrogating an encoder switch I used to change modes and brightness. It was a fun project.
Oh, the Nano was the least of my problems -- it pretty much performed as programmed. It was connecting the Neopixel strips (literally; trying to solder four wires to tiny strips on each end of both Neopixel arrays!) and the DF Player Mini to the Nano, and getting them all to work together. Keep in mind that I am an arduino duffer at best, and I was purely cutting and pasting and following the work of others -- and I still kept failing, again and again! At some point I may dive into the code to redirect the 'lightning' output to some brighter LEDs, but until then I'm just glad it works! 😵‍💫
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well, the grandkids visited, and the craft project pretty much went as planned! The two eldest (first grade and pre-k) decorated the card stock sheets (the elder elected for a halloween motif, while the younger opted for traditional scribble, in Christmas colors!), but the cutting out turned out to be an adult project. Since the glue sticks didn't work very well, I ended up using a few dabs of superglue. In the end, though, they both were able to produce usable additions to the holiday layout, so I'm happy with the project:

 

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Next project:
You need these for the tree. Lol. Can't belive this was that long ago.
 
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