There are so many maker activities that you can engage in during the days leading up to Halloween. Kids can make their own costumes, there are lots of really interesting projects with lighting, for example these cool options for under $5 and the crafting ideas are endless.
However, if you are into twisted and creepy, which in my opinion is a perfect match for Halloween, maybe you want to try making Frankentoys. The idea behind Frankentoys is to create a “new” toy out of a mishmash of different parts, just like Frankenstein (which is where the name comes from) or like the Mutant Toys from the movie Toy Story.
Middle school kids love doing this. It’s twisted enough to interest them and it feels a little bit naughty to pull (or hammer) toys apart. It’s appealing because they get to do all sorts of things that they aren’t allowed to do at home – cut the toy’s hair, pull off their arms, apply glue to their faces. Even though they have permission to do this while making Frankentoys, they feel like they are getting away with something. Some of them actually giggle while they are working. It’s adorable.
If you’re interested in facilitating a Frankentoys making event, it’s helpful to plan ahead. I start at the beginning of October with an old and discarded toys drive. There are plenty of parents, who have toys in their play room or basement, that they can’t wait to get rid of. It’s particularly fun to have toys that move, light up or make some sort of noise and the added bonus is that these types of toys will help kids learn about electronics, too.
The only tools and materials you really need to create Frankentoys are scissors, safety goggles, a multi-bit screwdriver a hot glue gun and, of course, lots of old toys to choose from. Likely you will have kids whose first choice for taking things apart is a hammer. This is a great opportunity to teach them about the right tool for the job (hint: unless you are hammering in a nail, a hammer should not be your first choice).
Once you have collected everything that you need and you’ve introduced the concept of Frankentoys to your makers, you just need to step back and let them do their thing. Our 6th graders even made a haunted house to use to display their Frankentoys.