How to make a cardboard shield

Whether pretending to be a noble knight or a Roman soldier, every brave young warrior needs a dependable shield. If a costume is needed for a party or an event, the plastic shields available commercially may not fit your child well, and the colours may be all wrong for matching the outfit. Making your own is simple and inexpensive.

Measure the width of your child's shoulders to find the width of the shield, and measure the distance from his knees to his shoulders to find the length of the shield. Use the pencil and ruler to sketch a rectangle with these dimensions onto one sheet of cardboard. Cut out the shape with a hobby or utility knife. Lay it on top of the other piece of cardboard, trace it, and cut it out. The shield will be more durable if the corrugation ridges of one sheet run horizontally and the ridges of the other one run vertically.

Ask your child to make a fist and hold her forearm up horizontally against one of the rectangles. Mark where the wrist meets the hand and where the crook of the elbow lies. This is where you'll be attaching arm straps on the back of the shield.

Glue the two cardboard rectangles firmly together. Allow the glue to dry completely, then reinforce all of the edges with strips of duct tape.

Have your child decorate the front of the shield. Markers, crayons, paint, glitter, coloured paper cutouts, shiny buttons and uncooked pasta all make for great decorations. Allow the shield to dry completely.

Poke holes around the edges of the shield, and press brass brads through the holes. This creates a great studded or riveted appearance. You may want to reinforce these on the back of the shield with drops of glue.

Measure your child's fist and the widest part of his forearm. Use the two strips of canvas or heavy denim to form circles large enough for him to loosely slip his fist and forearm completely through. Securely duct-tape these arm straps to the back of the shield where you made the marks.

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