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How to Reuse an Old Ikea Chair for Your Toddler’s Robot Garden

See below for a sneak peek of the robot garden I made for my toddler using an Ikea chair and milk jugs. Find a detailed tutorial on Houzz

Eliza-02 Eliza

In a strange way, I built it in response to the ideas presented in this book: All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood

I confess that I have not yet read the book. After finishing my fourth or fifth baby sleep book, I realized that the more you read these parenting books, the more they confuse you with their conflicting advice.

I am intrigued by this book’s premise, though, since the author describes the subject matter as more social science than parenting. As I understand it from the reviews, the author, Jennifer Senior, argues that the anxiety around modern American parenting stems from the notion that children are helpless. She implies that the modern parent’s tactics for increasing their child’s happiness and self-worth—smothering them, packing their schedules with extracurricular activities–is backfiring while also piling on more stress into parent’s lives. In the past, children handled more responsibilities at home, perhaps even earning income for their families, out of necessity. She finds some merit in this more hands-off parenting approach, suggesting that children might only gain self-worth (and therefore happiness) by following through on their responsibilities and by contributing in a meaningful way to others.

So I built this scarlet red robot with an underbite, a single gold tooth, herb legs and cherry tomato arms to amuse my toddler. But also to serve as a small gesture of empowerment for her. Maybe in a few months she can eat pesto made from the basil she helped grow ;)

On a more pragmatic note, I designed it for those strapped on time and/or money. It cost virtually nothing to make since I recycled an old Ikea chair and some milk jugs. Its vertical orientation helps maintain a small footprint so I hope that parents living in small quarters could use it in their balconies or patios.

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How to Make Mysteriously Magnetic Wooden Spoons

Strong magnets are buried in these wood spoons. Use this tutorial to create a kitchen magnet that doubles as a toy for your kids from any wood object lying around the house.

Disclaimer: No childproofing agency confirmed the safety of this projects for children less than 3 years old. Rare earth magnets are dangerous if swallowed.

Final

I noticed my toddler gravitating towards the magnets on our refrigerator whenever possible. Our current magnets were fragile; she’s already broken more than one. They also presented a potential choking hazard with the magnet glued on and exposed to the surface.

I designed these spoons so that the magnet is buried and plugged deep within the wood. The result are mysteriously magnetic wood spoons.

Materials

Materials
–Wood spoons. I purchased mine from a discount store for less than $5.
–1/4” diameter by 1/8” long rare earth cylinder magnets. Purchase them online.
–1/4” diameter wooden dowel
–Non-toxic wood glue
–Painter’s tape
optional non-toxic finish (e.g., walnut oil, food-based stains like coffee)

Tools
–Electric drill with 1/4” bit
–Clamps for drilling
–Saw for trimming the dowel
–Sandpaper, both fine and coarse
–Rubber mallet

Mark

Step 1: Locate an ideal position for the magnet on the front of the spoon. To do so, lay the spoon on a flat surface (back of the spoon on the surface) to locate the back part of the spoon that makes the most contact. Mark the front of the spoon at this location.

Measure

Step 2: Find the depth you want to drill by placing the drill bit up against your wood spoon. You don’t want to drill the entire depth of the wood; you want to leave about 1/16″, if possible.

DrillMark

Step 3: Mark the depth you want to drill (depth of spoon minus 1/16″) with tape.

Drill

Step 4: Clamp the spoon and drill the front. Go slowly so that you don’t drill the entire depth of the spoon. Remember you want to leave some thickness.

MagnetDowel

Step 5: Drop magnet into the hole after blowing any shavings out with your breath.

Dowel

Step 6: Drop dowel into the hole after the magnet and then mark a location to trim the dowel. Leave extra length on the dowel that you will sand off later.

Step 8: Tightly wrap the hole with tape and then wait for the glue to dry. Check your glue's label to determine drying time.

Step 8: Tightly wrap the hole with tape and then wait for the glue to dry. Check your glue’s label to determine drying time.

Sand

Step 9: Remove tape and sand the protruding dowel edge smooth with coarse sandpaper. Check the strength of the magnet on the back of the spoon. If it is weak, sand the wood until it is thin enough to not block the magnetic force.

Done

Step 10: Smooth out the entire spoon with fine grade sandpaper.

Optional: Explore edible, non-toxic finishes. Walnut oil is ideal because it doesn’t go rancid like other food oils.