We're snowed in here in North Carolina, so I thought that this would be a great time to continue my series about handmade toys that I have made for my daughter over the years. If you're snowed in with your kiddos, you can whip up a fleet of these tiny, adorable pistachio shell cars in no time. I've also provided a free, printable PDF of the backdrop that you and your kids can color!
Back in 2012, when my daughter was three years old, two things happened simultaneously:
1. My family purchased--and devoured--an enormous bag of pistachio nuts.
2. I discovered the wonderful, printable paper toys on the Made By Joel website.
The synergy of these two life-altering events inspired me to dream up this easy craft project that uses pistachio shells along with a printable backdrop for play.
For an investment of just a few minutes of my time and a few pennies worth of craft paint, I created a fun set that my daughter really enjoyed. Vroom, vroom!
Are you ready to make some cars of your own?
How to Make the Cars:
Empty shells from pistachio nuts (washed out and dried)
Craft paint (ie: acrylic paint) in several colors, including white
Small paint brushes (Q-tips could work in a pinch!)
Black fine point Sharpie marker
Toothpicks--flat or round will work
Old clothing or art smocks to protect kids' clothes
1. Gather your materials, cover your work surfaces, and put art smocks on your kids (acrylic paint will stain fabric and clothing).
2. Using small paint brushes and colored craft paint, cover the pistachio shell halves with paint and allow them to dry. You won't need to wait very long; acrylics dry quickly!
3. Use a black Sharpie marker to draw on the tires.
4. Use a toothpick and white craft paint to add hubcaps (a single dot of paint) and windows (the side of the toothpick point is useful for "smearing" the windows on).
5. Use a toothpick to add bumpers if desired. I used a grayish purple color for mine.
6. Allow to dry, and play, play, PLAY!
How to Make the Printable Paper Backdrop:
White letter sized printer paper or card stock (the latter will stand up better)
Crayons, colored pencils, and/or markers for coloring (yellow hilighters are great for "glowing" windows)
1. Download the free, printable PDF of the "Pistachio Lane" backdrop from my website. You can find it by clicking here (no sign up is required). If you don't see the link, try refreshing the page.
2. Print it out on your printer.
3. Color it in using colored pencils, crayons, and/or markers.
4. Fold at the edge where the houses meet the driveways, as pictured.
5. Play, play, PLAY!
At the risk of craft-bragging, I love that this project is green and eco-friendly, inexpensive, quick, easy, and kid-friendly! It would be a great group craft activity for a kids' party or even a summer camp. As an added plus, the finished product will take up very little storage space in your home. However, there are two safety issues to consider. First, due to the choking hazard, this project (and the resulting toy) is best suited for kids age 3 and up. Also, pistachio nuts are an allergen for some children, so please exercise caution during playdates.
After you have made your first set, there's a lot of room to expand on this idea. Maybe you'll print several copies of "Pistachio Lane" and connect them side by side to make a larger neighborhood? Or you can draw a whole paper downtown that connects to "Pistachio Lane", with a library, ice cream store, or other businesses!
Maybe your little one might enjoy drawing his or her own backdrop (including a "parking lot"), as my daughter did when she was three.
Or maybe you'll be inspired to create other things out of pistachio shells, craft paint, and a Sharpie. How about a tiny set of ladybug buddies that are just the right size to slip into your pocket to keep your kiddo entertained on an airplane or in a restaurant?
Or a minuscule mouse with his own paper wedge of Swiss cheese? The harsh lighting in this photo gives it a "crime scene" effect; maybe the cheese was actually stolen from some other mouse's Swiss account?!
Have fun, and happy crafting!
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