Make a Laptop

Posted on Jan 29, 2010 in Parenting | 2 comments

I’m not much of a kids crafter kind of person. My son usually likes to just do whatever he wants with the materials and takes over completely if there is any kind of agenda. For the most part we just let him do what he wants with the art materials which is usually to cut great wads of paper into tiny pieces, spread them around, declare the craft finished and refuse to put anything in the recycling. We find tiny squares of paper spread through the house for weeks afterwards and there is usually a sizable stash stored in Rain’s nightstand because they are too precious for him to part with. (My family is laughing hysterically right now about how the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree or some other dumb thing about how I used to do that, but whatever. I don’t let him have the tape anyways so I don’t even know what they’re talking about.)

I got the idea to make a laptop with him out of an egg carton. Of course, a power struggle ensued about how it was to be done. I won because I’m bigger but that meant that I made the craft and Rain mostly watched so now we have no In-Process pictures for the tutorial. The laptop turned out pretty darn cool. I’ll tell you how it’s done and I won’t even be there to boss you around if you want to do it your way. But really, you can’t make a laptop out of a bunch of cut-up pieces of paper so it would be best if you listened to me. Just sayin.

You’ll Need:

  • 1 Egg Carton (empty)
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • Paper
  • 1 Piece of cardstock or thin cardboard

I had just received a labeller as a gift from my husband for doing the books and marketing all year for our business. I have a secret stationary/office suply habit so the labeller was like giving me crack. Pretty sweet of him. The laptop would be the first labeller project. Rain also adores the labeller because of all the tiny buttons and portability. It’s like a kid sized computer. Heck, it’s like a laptop. That’s where the power struggle started. He likes to do everything himself. He drops things a lot. I don’t like broken electronics. If broken electronics were a publicly traded commodity, we’d be one of the top shareholders. Enough is enough.

You’ll need a labeller or you could just use your computer/printer combo. Or I guess you could write letters with your hand and a pen but that seems kind of old-fashioned now doesn’t it? I mean if you could use a labeller or your own hand, what would you choose?

First step, open the egg carton and using your scissors or an exacto (if you’re doing this craft while the kids are in bed, which let’s face it, is a better time to do crafts), cut off the 4-5 points that protrude up towards the lid. Cut them so that they are level with the edges.

Next, cut the cardstock into a long rectangle the same size as the lower portion of the egg carton. Fit it in place to check if you have the surface flat enough. Some of the edges may need to be trimmed again. Glue in place.

Now the fun part!! Copying the pattern on the keyboard, print off large bold letters and numbers. You can even do the arrows and other keys if you are so inclined. I was planning to do all the SHIFT, CTRL, ALT etc keys but started to get stingy when I saw how much label tape we were going through. I did start to relax though and let Rain press the keys, the print button and use the tape cutter.

The labeller was great because we could just cut them and stick them on. If you are printing them on paper, you’ll need to use glue. I hope you don’t get carpel tunnel from not having a labeller for this craft. Especially if you are drawing the letters with your own hand.

I tried to get Rain to stick the letters on the cardboard because I was feeling bad about being so bossy over the labeller but he only did two and got bored. He preferred the labeller too. (Who can blame him?) So I stuck the letters on myself and they are in much straighter rows that I had hoped they’d be if Rain did them. I did it a bit messy just so that no one would think that I completely took over and did the craft myself (which I did).

Next step: The Screen. If you want to use a picture chosen by your child, you can do a google image search for a favourite animal, place, scene or machine. We actually did a print screen of the desktop (because that’s what Rain wanted – I let him choose!). If you haven’t done this before, close all your windows so you can see the desktop and locate the print screen button on your keyboard. Mine says Prt Scr on it. Press this button.

Whether you are using an image from google, your own photos or your desktop, now you should open your word processor and select Paste. If you used the print screen function, an image of your desktop should appear. You can then resize it and crop it. You’ll have to change the page orientation to Landscape and adjust the margins so the image fills almost the whole width. Print it out and glue or tape it into the lid of the egg carton. Alternatively, you could print off several different images or screen prints so that your kiddo can change his screen depending on what he’s working on.

At first, though I thought it was cool, I thought the laptop was pretty useless but Rain has been carrying it around the last few days and we’ve been using it to practice his letters, finding letters, spelling his name. It’s fun and functional! Yay!

I discovered that I’m a control freak and I’m not sure how we’ll fare should we end up homeschooling. But now at least the labeller is safely stored away unharmed and Rain has a laptop to distract him. Sounds like a craft success story if I ever heard one.


  1. Love the article.

    I hate most kid craft projects. I don’t like school projects where the kids make the same old turkeys or snowmen and they are so valuable and I’m not allowed to throw them out. I had one enormous 4′ x 4′ cupboard that contained my oldest daughter’s craft projects from Grade 1. The projects included a 6 foot tall paper St. Patrick’s Day leprechaun with sproingy arms and legs. Never again.

    Much better when the kids make their own crafts. Although – I hear you on the little pieces of paper. I have one child who has been like a mouse from the time she could crawl – and now that she is 7 still has a thing for shredding or cutting paper into teeny pieces and walking away. I don’t think she even realizes she’s doing it.

    However – kids are great at seeing things in books or somewhere else, and using that as a jumping off point for their own ideas. Like creating wearable 3-D gas mask and oxygen tank entirely out of printer paper. And you have to admit – that’s a lot more practical than than a stupid turkey. 😉

    But there’s a difference between kids crafts – that they should be left alone with entirely unless they beg for help (and keep bugging you unrelentlessly until you have to get off Facebook) – and getting mom to make something that they want to use for other purposes. Moms (and Dads) are needed for those projects that kids can envision but don’t have the skills to do yet. As I see it – you built Rain a laptop that he can use for stuff. It shouldn’t be confused with doing a craft.

    Later, when his skills increase and he says, “Mom – I want to build a cannon.” You can say well, I have to make dinner. However, there’s wood in the garage. Go ask your dad if you can use it. ”

    And he’ll have learned from you, that attempting to build a cannon it is a quite reasonable and do-able project. (And you might start having second thoughts about teaching your kids that anything is possible for them if they set their minds to it.)

    lol. Keep the articles coming, Alison. The laptop is awesome! I showed it to all the kids.
    Twitter: melaniemcintosh

  2. I forgot to say: Labellers are AWESOME.

    Wait till Rain learns he can use it to print out his name many, many times and stick them everywhere! And leave all the backing pieces on the floor with the rest of his cut paper.

    Enjoy! hahahaha!
    Twitter: melaniemcintosh

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