This morning a certain three year old (almost 4 soon!) really wanted her "computer" which is kept in the car and reserved for car rides only. There were tears and a whole lot of disappointment when she realized I was not going to budge on our rule. Remembering a supply of keyboard parts and a cord I had saved from our last computer I offered her the idea of making her own laptop. It didn't take long before both of my daughters were excited about creating cardboard laptops.
I found the keyboard parts, cut a rectangle from cardboard (using a piece of the flap that was already in the bent position), found a couple magazines (for the screens), a tongue depressor, gathered markers and found a sheet of craft foam for buttons (glittered no less and sticky on one side).
Once we had all the pieces, my daughters stuck the foam circles I had cut out onto the cardboard. They colored their tongue depressor and then we hot glued the tongue depressor down as a space bar and I glued the keyboard buttons on with the hot glue gun.
My daughters looked through a catalog for a picture and we found some printed text from a magazine to add on as the screen. They glued these on with a glue stick.
Lastly, I cut a cord in half so they each could have a piece and I used the glue gun to attach it.
My youngest daughter was very happy with the results and I haven't heard any requests for that "other computer."
My oldest daughter drew some extra buttons and liked the idea so much she made a tiny cardboard computer for her dollhouse family as well. Now here is a computer I can feel good about letting them use whenever they want!