Monday, August 24, 2015

Quick and Dirty DIY Board Game: An Update

About a year and a half ago, I shared my idea for a DIY customizable game board made from butcher paper and clear contact paper.
Well, that board, or rather roll, has been kicking around the game closet for a long time and is rather the worse for wear. We've used it any number of times, but it's always a challenge to get it to lay flat on the table.
A few weeks ago I saw some teens in a cafeteria break out an obviously home made game, and I realized they'd simply taken a commercial game board and covered it with white paper. Brilliant!
I've had my eyes open for a cheap game to buy for this purpose ever since, but when the most recent garage sale netted me a copy of Sequence for Kids, it turned out that we love playing it!
I then realized that there's no need to sacrifice the commercial game: the back side of the board can be used without harming the front.
Here's how I made my reusable board, and the first game we played on it.


1. Commercial game of your choice
2. Paper to cover back (or front) side of game board. My board had four panels each smaller than 8.5x11, so I used heavy card stock. Butcher paper would be a good alternative for a larger board.
3. Glue / Glue sticks
4. Clear contact paper. Alternately, 8.5x11 laminator.
(OR, use White contact paper and skip the whole annoying paper bit!)
5. Standard felt-tip markers and pencil
6. Dry erase markers


1. I picked a modern copy of Chutes and Ladders for my project. I would personally have loved to sacrifice the front side of the board, but the kids would have thrown a fit, so I used the back.
I measured the panels and cut four sheets of white card stock to size.
2. Even though I really hate glue, it was my only sensible option for adhering said paper to my game board. I went with glue sticks to avoid any bubbling or seepage.
3. I then used my pencil and markers to create a basic game path on to the board. I did not get very scientific about it. I made a basic attempt to avoid having cells span the folds in the game board, but that was it.
4. I cut contact paper to the size of the entire game board and applied it.

That's it! We were ready to create a game! We came up with

Uppercase Lowercase Match

My four-and-a-half year old had been following my progress with great interest, so I had her help me create the game itself.
Amazingly, her attention held through writing all 26 letters in the cells (she still needs quite a bit of coaching on letter formation, but she's willing to stick with it!)
However, once that project was done, so was she. She had no interest in playing! This also is typical: her older brother is the competitive one.
So 6-year-old James joined me for the game itself.
Grace's letters were capital; I pulled out a set of magnetic lowercase letters and stuck them to a handy cookie sheet. We rolled a die to advance our counter, and when we landed on an unoccupied square we found the matching lower case letter, covered that square, and then got to advance the counter one more space. If you landed in a square that had already been covered with its matching letter, we just stayed put. The first one to the end (thankfully, James!) won.

Here are some additional ideas for games to create on your new game board. These are for slightly younger kids, 3 to 5 years old.

Ideas for Improvement

As I mentioned after creating out first contact-paper laminated board game, clear contact paper is not a perfect dry-erase surface. Even alcohol fails to remove all of the ink and things get a bit smeary. It's good enough, but it's not great.
If I make another game board, I will probably use my laminator on my game board segments rather than the contact paper. That would require a bit more precision in cutting the pieces to size, especially since you need to leave a little margin between the edge of the paper and the edge of the lamination sheet, but it would yield a better dry erase surface. I am concerned that the added bulk (or perhaps the rigidity) may also complicate folding the board - especially if you're using the back.

Of course, an obvious improvement to the clear contact and white paper method is simply to use white contact paper. I didn't have any. This would have the benefit of eliminating the black lines running through the game where the board bends. If I come across a small roll dirt cheap (I.e. at the Dollar Tree!) I may give it a try.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

9 Things I will Never Repost on Facebook

I'm going to indulge myself today with a little rant. A Facebook rant.
I Love Facebook. I spend far too much time keeping up with what my friends are doing and posting adorable pictures of my children. But I almost Never repost anything. Every once in a while I'll share a link to an article or a joke that I think might be edifying or amusing to my friends, but that's about it. Why? Because most of the re-posts Make Me Crazy.

Specifically, here are several categories of things I will never re-post - or usually even respond to.

1. Anything that begins "Nobody ever reads my timeline, but..." 
Similarly, nothing that begins with "most people won't repost this, but..."
Why? They're manipulative, pure and simple. They're trying to guilt me into doing something not because I want to, or because it is meaningful or true, but because I feel guilty. I hate that.

2. Anything - even anything that I agree with - asking me to comment with an "Amen" or a "share." Or honestly, anything that asks me to share Anything for any reason.
Why? Again, see "manipulation." I feel that most of these are incredibly annoying, disrespectful plays on emotion and I don't chose to participate.

3. Any post asking for help finding a lost child, teen, dog, or etc. 
Why? Am I really that heartless?!
No. Have you ever noticed that not one example of this sort of post in a dozen actually includes the Date on which the alleged disappearance took place? One popped up in my feed the other day that, upon investigation, was two solid years old. I visited the profile of one of the two missing victims and saw that it had been active within the last few days. I don't want to be part of the perpetuation of bad information!
Exception: When a date is clearly communicated, preferably embedded in the photo, and when the missing person is local. Social Media can actually be useful in these instances - but only when used responsibly!

4.  Similarly, any picture or link with an adorable sick child asking for "likes" and "shares." 
Why? Again, it's the play on emotions, specifically guilt. "Liking" a post doesn't help that kid - half the time the photo involved is years if not decades old and the information is wildly outdated if not entirely inaccurate. Ugh.

5. Any post proclaiming that it is "National Short Person Day," "Ice Cream Day," "Hug an Armed Services Person" day, or fill in the blank.  
Why? Again, there's never a date on the picture. Maybe these days exist. Maybe they don't. I don't care. But I'm pretty sure they're not months and months long.

6. Any article, video, or similar link that includes language like "He does X, but when Y happens, my jaw dropped." 
Similarly, anything like "Top 10 things in X category. I couldn't stop laughing at #4."
(In other words, pretty much everything from Buzzfeed and its relatives.)
Why? It's like they think we won't read it unless it's the Most Amazing Thing in the History of the Internet. Over-hyping everything from a neat trick for slicing a watermelon to a list of celebrity foibles ends up causing a form of sensation inflation that bothers me on about 15 levels. And when the links don't end up paying off, I feel tricked, foolish, and annoyed. I rarely read these links. I never share them.

7.  Anything asking me to comment and/or share so I can win a trip to Disney Land, a new Apple Watch, or whatever. 
Why? 99% of these are scams. The 1% that aren't are pretty easy to recognize, but rarely worth entering due to pure statistics. Hint: If the name of the profile posting the contest includes a period or other bit of punctuation, a space where none belongs, or similar weirdness, it's Definitely a scam - the scammers come up with an unused profile name similar to the legit one, and then basically hijack the traffic.
Another hint: Check the date the profile was created. If it's this year, it's a scam!
Exception: When the contests / raffles Are legit and sponsored by a small business that I respect and want to support. These aren't hard to recognize. Just look for the good English. :)

8.  Nearly anything proclaiming that coke / coffee / microwaved or reboiled water will kill me, or "one weird trick" will save my health. 
Why? False information, about 99% of the time. Check if you doubt me. :}
Quite often when I read these my natural inclination towards vigilante-ism kicks in, and I do my five minutes of research and respond to the post. Sorry if I've done this to you. :)

9.  Practically anything in support of any political party, social issue, or religious position. 
Why? This is a trickier one. I have some very strong, very sincere convictions and beliefs. I enjoy discussing them. Sometimes I even enjoy debating them. But - and this has taken me something like 20 years to learn - Not on social media.
Nobody is listening. No-one who doesn't already agree with me, anyway. And I'm slowly figuring out that nothing alienates people faster than a position directly in opposition to their own posted in black-and-white. Often I could have a very reasonable, mutually beneficial conversation with these same people if I was just doing it face to face. But online? There's no way to see body language, no way to communicate humility or even humor... it's Just Not Worth it.
(Sadly, I only adhere to this about 90% of the time. Again, if I've done this to you, sorry!)