Live By The (Foam) Sword

crossed swordsEvery pirate needs a cutlass, every musketeer needs a saber, and every knight needs a sword! But the combination of kids and swords can get a bit… dicey. Someone always get dinged, bonked, poked, or conked.

So you need a sword that will hold up in battle but that won’t bruise on impact. Foam is usually the way to go but foam swords can get a little pricey and fall apart quickly.

I have a solution for you. Straight from the plumbing section of your local hardware store.

foam tubesIt’s tubular foam pipe insulator. Also called “that gray foam tube that gets wrapped around pipes.” It’s made out of polyethylene (the same stuff as pool noodles and kickboards). I use the 1/2″ diameter foam, which comes in 6′ tubes and costs 97 cents. You can cut it easily with scissors. I can get 3 good-sized (i.e. 20″ – 21″) swords out of 1 tube. That’s 32 cents a sword. Oh yeah.

You can wield the sword as a plain tube, or you can create a “hilt” by wrapping the base with color masking tape. To reach the pinnacle of royalty, try hot gluing a large gemstone to the hilt as well. Grab your shield, and you’re ready to sally forth!

hiltsPssst! If you’re looking for another amazing find in the plumbing section, check out this post. If you’re yearning for a cannon to go with that pirate sword, you can find it here. Looking for a dragon to adventure with? Click here!


pom-pom cannonIf you do programs with kids, inevitably, you’re going to do something with pirates. Now, you can come well-armed with this amazing pom-pom cannon!

I created this project for a large-scale Treasure Island event, so it’s designed to be quick to make, cheap to produce, and fun to play with. It was a huge hit. The brave crew at the Historical Society of Princeton helped kids make 500+ cannons at the event. Arrr!

You’ll need:

  • 1 paper towel tube
  • 1 piece black construction paper
  • Metallic markers for decoration
  • cannon wheel template printed on an 8.5″ x 11″ piece of card stock
  • 2 jumbo paperclips
  • Hot glue or glue dots
  • Tape for construction
  • 1 jumbo 2″ pom-pom (any color)

Wrap the paper towel roll in black paper and tape to secure. Then use the metallic markers to decorate the cannon and the wheels. We used metallic Sharpie markers.  Silver showed up the best on the black paper.

Slide the two jumbo paperclips on one end of the tube. These are the “weights” on the base of your cannon so it won’t slump forward when sitting on a table. I found it’s best to put the clips side by side, like so:

paper clip placementNow it’s time to attach the wheels. I used hot glue for the version you see here, but we used glue dots and/or tape at the event (while I love hot glue, I’m not big on running a hot glue gun for 5 hours amongst thousands of kids).

You’ll notice that the wheels are attached almost in the center of the cannon. You’ll have to play with the placement of the wheels a little to get the cannon to tilt just right.

pom-pom cannonReady to fire? Hold the cannon aloft in one hand, push the pom-pom into the “mouth” (i.e. the non-paperclip end) of the cannon, and then blow a big puff of air into the opposite end. The “cannonball” will launch!

Now, how about some swords matey? Printable tattoos? A floating island hideout? A parrot pal to perch on your wrist? Or this lovely (and incredibly easy) ship in a bottle?