Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bubble boys and girls

A short narration on why my mom is cool, then directions on how to make your own bubble-house (or biosphere, if you want to sound like a smarty-pants.)

I'm a preschool home-schooler. Our little friends had a blast. Not sure where Jonas was.

My mom was one of 'those moms'. She threw giant birthday parties where everyone got their own (non mentholated) can of shaving cream, and we all put on our bathing suits and got shaving cream all over the trampoline. My sister got the gene, as evidenced by the four days she spent making a cardboard pirate ship for her daughter's birthday. My apologies for the grainy picture off Facebook, but you get the point.

Mom had a stand-up rabbit cake pan, and she made that cake into everything. Need a baby cake? Cut the ears off. Need a Carebear cake? Cut the ears off? Need a car? I don't know. It never happened, because we were all girls, but I bet she would have cut the ears off and sliced them to make wheels. (This is why, when I was 'garage sale'-ing and saw a stand-up Carebear cake, I got so excited.)

I've used it at least four times. Once as Yoda.

This pic is another FB steal from my niece's party, but that's an awesome cake.

I think there's a rabbit in there.

During my high school years, she was always fine with a bonfire, an unlimited number of guests, and no curfew on her end. And if she didn't know about the occasional explosive device, well, we just didn't bring it up. (A friend was 'interning' at a fireworks company. I got to roll the chemicals into clay like balls and make my own four inch mortar- a red ring. There. I used to be cool.)

There's a lot to live up to. But even the cool stuff I do with my kids now is at least partly inspired by her, if not an out-right gift. Like the giant bubble we made last summer.

It's like sewing for giants. You buy plastic sheeting (I think we got our a thickness of 4 mil., a 20'x30' piece, or thereabouts) and a big roll of duct tape (we recommend red) from a home improvement store.

Cut a five foot piece off of the end. This is going to be a tube that inflates it, so measure the circumference of your box fan and then cut it an inch longer. Then make it a tube- line up the seams, don't overlap- and tape them together.

Then turn it inside out and tape it on the other side. So you'll have a five foot long tube, just big enough to slip over the front of your box fan.

Now for the bubble. Fold it in half, so that it is 20' x 12.5' (remember we cut off five feet). Tape the seams together from the outside. It helps to have a friend or two to keep the tape straight.

I like an 'I' shaped door. So in one end, I cut a four foot vertical line, then made a 2 and a 1/2 foot cut across the top and the bottom. Regardless of the shape, make flaps so it can be closed and stay inflated. Then tape the raw edges, folding the tape around the edge like 'seam binding'.

Then turn it inside out, and tape the large seam around the bubble again. This makes it stronger, and prevents people from getting their hair stuck in the duct tape (you can never line up the edges PERFECTLY. At least I can'tJ)

At the other end, cut a hole the exact circumference of your tube (slightly below the midline of the fold so that when the bubble is inflated, the tube can rest on the floor), stick the tube in the opening. You can tape it, but you don't have to.

Now, attach your fan to the end of the tube and make sure your tube doesn't block the air intake. And if you don't have a box fan, you can group together a few oscillating fans (don't let them oscillate, though.) That's what I did. Don't tape all the way around the fan, just a piece or two will hold it in place.

There is a constant stream of fresh air, so don't worry about the kids suffocating. Of course, if the fans get turned off or the tube gets pulled free, the bubble will deflate. So supervise kids in the bubble.

We like to put some blankets in to walk on, because it's slippery. And move or pad hard things on the outside, because four mil of plastic doesn't make the tv stand soft.

Have fun!

My happy Jojo. His alternate state is not nearly this cute.


  1. Oh, you had the best birthday parties (especially when they were joint with mine)! :) Why did you move away?

    Your bubble house looks like fun! It reminds me of the portable planetarium that came to Plantation Elementary. I don't remember what year that was. It was inflatable and they set it up in the art classroom, I think.

  2. Wow. That is on the edge. Kids playing inside (gasp) a big plastic sack!?