They never go out of style: those jack-in-the-box toys that jump up to surprise and startle a young child. It gets them every time, doesn’t it? Did you know that you can make a jack-in-the-box that’s cheap and easy yet will give a child hours of fun? You’ll fall in love with the simple process that lets you create small ones or much larger ones using mostly things you have around your house.
Make a large jack-in-the-box by using a gallon ice cream carton that has a separate lid. The round cartons are generally larger at the top than they are at the bottom. These are ideal. You can make a much smaller version by using a smaller, similar container. Wash the tub and lid thoroughly and allow them to dry. You’ll do less damage to the carton if you use a damp cloth rather than filling the cardboard carton with water. Make sure it’s no longer sticky, and is completely dry, before continuing.
Wrap the ice cream carton in fabric, decorative paper or even colored tape. Make sure that whatever you use it doesn’t impede the lid. After the fabric or paper is added to the carton check to make sure you can still get the lid on it easily. Colored tape works well to create a colorful striped effect that’s fabulous for the jack-in-the-box.
You’ll need a spring to create the pop-up effect that will give your child the giggles. Choose a spring that’s about a quarter-inch in diameter but possibly smaller for a smaller jack-in-the-box. The length of the spring should be about three inches longer than the container is tall.
Make the toy for the jack-in-the-box by using a ping-pong ball. Or, you can use a small stuffed animal you already have. One filled with beans is not ideal; use one that’s filled with lightweight poly-fill. Poke a small hole in the bottom of the container, right in the middle. Put the end of the spring in the hole then use some hot glue around the bottom of the carton to secure the spring.
If you’re making your own toy for the jack-in-the-box use a ping-pong ball for the head. Poke a small hole in one end of the ball and insert the spring into it. Use hot glue to secure. Draw a face on the ball with markers then glue on yarn, cotton balls, shredded paper or other “hair”. Cut a piece of a pipe cleaner and wrap it around the “neck” area of the spring to make arms. Position them so that they stick straight out on each side of the spring. Cut two shirt shapes and glue them together, trapping the spring between them.
If you’re using a stuffed animal inside the jack-in-the-box, poke a tiny hole in the underside of it, then insert the spring. Surround the spring with hot glue to secure. Place the lid on the jack-in-the-box then wait for the fun. When someone opens it the toy will spring to life and startle a child – and maybe even an adult! It’s a fun toy to make but it’s even more fun to watch as your child giggles and laughs at the sight of the pop-up toy!