Monday, December 7, 2009

Thrifty Gifts - Marshmallow Gun

Disclaimer: This gift has no spiritual value, no sentimental value, and little educational value (unless you want to figure out the science of how it works). In spite of that, we've made dozens of them over the past few years because they are so FUN!

Materials:
  • 30 inches of 1/2" diameter PVC pipe available at any home improvement store that sells plumbing supplies
  • PVC joints (2 caps, 2 elbows, and 2 T joints)
  • a saw that will cut PVC (a hacksaw will work - a power mitre saw will work really well)
  • mini marshmallows (I typically include about 2 dozen in a zip-loc sandwich bag.)
Directions:
  • Cut the PVC into the lengths pictured on the diagram.
  • Use a jack knife or some other sharp edge to smooth the cut edges of the PVC. The sharpening steel from your knife set might work.
  • Push them together according to this diagram.
  • Viola! That's it!
Notes:
  • If you're making them for multiple children in the same family, you may want to decorate the guns with electrical tape stripes or permanent marker so each child can identify their own gun.
  • It's not necessary to glue the pieces together. In fact, keeping them separate allows them to be easily rinsed or even put in the dishwasher periodically. (Only use when they are completely dry though!)
  • To use - place a mini marshmallow in the mouth end of the gun, take a big breath, put your mouth on the end of the PVC, and blow hard. You'll be surprised to see how fast and how far your marshmallow will fly out the other end!
  • It's the rule in our house that all ammunition shot indoors MUST be retrieved - no exceptions! (I do not want to find marshmallows in the sofa cushions!)
  • I know of a boy scout troop that made these and used small pom-poms for ammunition.
IMPORTANT - This toy is not for anyone who may forget to take their deep breath BEFORE putting their mouth onto the gun (You don't want to inhale a marshmallow!) If your children are more interested in eating the marshmallows than using the toy, they may be too young. Or it's lunch time.

4 comments:

Thérèse said...

This toy is not for anyone who may forget to take their deep breath BEFORE putting their mouth onto the gun

I think I have a picture of my husband seconds after just such a mistake somewhere around here...

Joseph said...

Why doesn't this surprise me. P.S. Send the pictures.

Margaret Mary said...

Perhaps he's better suited to being on the receiving end of such things... ;-)

Tim said...

Just saw this post today after following a link from The Crescat! My son and I made one of these and will be making a ton more with a bunch of Galaxy Explorers in March. Since the marshmallows can get a little messy after a while we figured out you can use Nerf darts instead if you front load them. This also avoids the choking hazard mentioned above. You can check out the video we made at our web site, WREXLabs.com.

Another tip: Hacksawing the pipe ends up creating rough and sharp edges and lots of pvc dust. There is a relatively inexpensive pvc pipe cutter that can be found at any hardware store that cuts through the pipe cleanly with minimum effort. Here is a link to the tool.