What Things Have You Created?

Caine Monroy, nine years old, built an arcade out of cardboard boxes in his father’s auto parts shop in Los Angeles, California. This video is the story of Caine and his arcade.

Have you ever made things out of found materials when you were little? Pillow forts ~ paper dolls ~ sandcastles ~ or anything else?
What are your best memories of creating things?

Students: Tell us what you remember best about the things you created when you were a child. How old were you? What materials did you use? Did you create secret spaces like pillow forts where you could retreat, or construct inventions or child-sized versions of real things out of cardboard? Did you write stories, put on plays, invent potions or your own recipes? Tell us some favorite childhood memories of creating — and ask yourself why those creations were so satisfying and memorable.

(Idea and some text courtesy of the NY Times Learning Network)


  1. The story of Caine’s arcade was so sweet! When I was a little girl, there was never a spot in our house that didn’t have a creation on the floor. Somewhere in our house my brothers and I always had a fort, restaurant, obstacle course, or a homemade game splattered all over. If I had to choose my favorite fort, it would be the one we made when I was about seven years old. We made a fort out of sheets, clothes pins, duct tape, and some books for weights. (We didn’t need any expensive tools to satisfy or amaze us.) That creation went all the way down our two flights of stairs. In the middle of the fort we had a sitting place (like a lounge) where we would sit and give each other jobs like builder, electrician, carpenter, or house cleaner. I had a variety of jobs over many years. At the end of the week right before our parents would get tired of the mess that we called a “masterpiece,” each person who had a job would give the other people in the “house” a bill. As I look back now on it I realize that I had such a huge imagination, and I really took this fort like it was a real house and a real job.

    These memories are so important to me because I feel that when we would work together we would develop a stronger bond with each other. Building and constructing was a way that my brothers and I could really have fun, but yet still remember that we love each other, and our importance of being a family.

  2. I loved to make secret recipes and make people try them. At the age 8 I finished doing my homework and a friend Tabitha was over, so we decided to do something creative but fun. She came up with making homemade ice cream and i wanted to make up my own concoction of random sauces and really anything I could find in the fridge. When it came to the end we decided to do my idea because we did not have all the stuff to make ice cream. The first one we made included ketchup, soy sauce, hot sauce, mayo, peanut butter, jelly, and applesauce. When we finished she dared me to try it so I said if someone else tries it first i will try it. Then we asked my mom to try it and she asked what is was so we came up with the name, Hoobdle. She refused but, i tried it anyway and it was not half bad. After that when Tabitha comes over we always created new concoctions with different stuff every time.

  3. When I was younger I did what any usual kids what do, build forts. But, when three years old I made my new two best friends that I would never, I created two imaginary friends. I’m not sure why I had two imaginary friends because kids usually only have one. Their names were Solly and Dolly. I would buckle them up when we went in the car, and have tea parties with them, and play with them everyday. I would yell to them and talk to them too. I don’t remember them that well but, I remember they were my best friends until I was four or five.
    These are important memories to me because it tells me what I was like when I was younger. My parents think I created them around the time my brother was born because I didn’t have any attention. As I look back and hear stories about Solly and Dolly, realize how big an imagination a kid can have.

    1. I meant would in the first sentence, and in the second sentence, But, when I was three years old I made my new two best friends that I would never, I created two imaginary friends.

  4. I remeber when I was nine years old my dad and I built the coolest tree house ever. It was built on a huge oak tree. To get up you had to climb a ladder that had been nailed on the tree. Then you would have reached a little porch, that in the middle had the door to the tree house. It was pretty cool, because it was two stories, that had a few couches, it had lave lamps everwhere, it also had cool christmas light hanging at the top of the walls powered by solar panels, and the windows had glass so that animals couldn’t get in. It also had a little look out zone that also acted as the third floor. From the look out zone you could see the whole neighborhood, because it was built where the top of the tree was. I still have the tree house and I still enjoy it.

  5. When I was about seven years old I tried to build a club under a table. I was at a camp, and one day I was bored so I got with a few other kids under a table. We hung out down there, we decided that it was so fun that we decided to make it a daily thing. That night, I went home and took a bouncy ball, coated it in glue and glitter, and attached a string to it. The next day I taped it to the bottom of the table. We put pillows as a barrier around us. This is so memorable to me because I felt like it was a huge success, and we all had so much fun!

  6. I remembrer when I was a 5 year old I made a fort out of chairs a sheet and pillows. I pretended that I was a knight, and used a clothes hanger as a bow and arrow and long piece of plastic as a sword. I would run in my backyard and hit pieces of bamboo and pretended that I was in battle to protect my kingdom, cathmog. then when I got tired I went inside and got snacks and pretended it was a feast. Then when I went to bed I put my “bow and my sword” under my bed and went to sleep then did it all over again the next day.

  7. When I was around nine years old I liked to build forts, bunkers, and any thing that involves snow. This was in New Jersey when we had a major blizzard. I went out side with my friend Quinn and we saw these huge snow drifts on the end of of the driveway. So we started to dig a holes in the snow drift. The snow was like five feet high. So we just dug like dog into the snow. It was really cold out and the wind was whistling the air. We dug and dug until we had like an underground snow fort. Then my other friend Hunter arrived with an igloo block maker. So me and my to friends made an igloo with tunnels. It looked like an under ground hamster tunnel. Then when I was crawling through one of the tunnels I guess it was snowing a little to much because the snow piled on top of me! I thought I was going to suffocate but I got up. My friends laughed because My whole face was covered with snow! I took off my snow gear and then asked my mom for some hot chocolate and I went back outside to build another one

  8. I remember one time when I was little my friend and I made this amazing fort out of pillows, blankets, sheets etc. We took anything that we could find in my house and even went to his house to get a few things to help out like extra blankets, a small light we could put inside, and baseball cards to play and trade with when we were done with the fort and were playing inside. Once we got home we took our longest blanket and tacked it to the living room celling and used our other blankets/sheets and draped them over chairs. It ended up being so big that we had to move the couches and the table in the living room to fit it. This was one of the most fun and memorable moments of my life and I will never forget it.

  9. When I was younger I lived in Connecticut. My house there had a little stream in the woods in the backyard and the stream whent on for awhile. One day I rember that me and my three older siblings we built little boats and had a race down the stream. I was young so my older sister help me buil mine. It was made out of tinfoil. My two brothers he’d a little work shop and they worked together on building both of there boats. When we did the race I got last because mine did not get very far. Mine sank but my oldest brother won. I really had a lot of fun doing that and spending time with my older siblings.

  10. My favorite part of the video was when Nirvon planned a flash mob for Cain. Cain was so happy that Nirvon planned a flash mob for him, and it made me happy that Cain was so excited. My favorite thing that I have created is a clubhouse that my friend and I built. The clubhouse is eight by four feet and made out of wood. I was ten years old when my friend and I built it and we loved to play in it. Our favorite game to play was war. The clubhouse was the prison, and the goal was to escape, which was not ver easy. A lot of my friends would play the game and we would all be guarding the clubhouse with brooms. Creating the game was fun because it let me use my imagination and see my clubhouse turn into a prison, which was very exicting. This game is memerable because I loved geting to play in my clubhouse and I always had fun playing the game.

  11. When I was younger Felina and me would have like 2 day sleepovers and we built these crazy forts. They were from the end of the hall to my bedroom covered with pillows, stuffed animals, bed sheets, and anything that had stuffing in it. We had them up until my mom told us we had to clean it up or when I would come home from school the next day it would be gone! When I was at her house we used her playground and put blankets that covered the whole thing and we started to scream at people. They never saw us because we had so many blankets and pillows covering us. If we got bored we would climb at the top of the playground and jump down onto the swings. Sometimes when I had another friend over we would go onto my trampoline carrying about 20 pillows and blankets and then jump on top of them and do flips on them. It was always winter time so we would have hot chocolate and when we finished we would throw the cup into the grass and not know where it went until the next day and started jumping again!

  12. When I was four, I created a glamorous collection for my black lab named Zoe. I loved her, and played with her everyday. On her way to the red carpet, she has on a fitted red construction paper skirt accented with purple and pink sequence. She had a white paper tank top with a hint of red glitter. To match her outfit she had a red and pink scarf that flowed in the wind as she pranced down the red carpet. She had high quality diamond sequin earring stickers. Last, but not least, I tied a tie die ribbon that contained reds and pinks around her tail. I have many more collections: a stroll around central park, shopping on Broadway, school uniform, and going to Publix. My favorite collection is the school uniform.

  13. One creative thing that I made was pillow forts. I loved making them and I would also always have a theme. One time I also made a halloween fort with some decorations and Me and my friends slept in it the next night. I also like to have fun with it and find different colored blankets and pillow to hold up my fort. Most of the time I would make it in my bedroom but its also nice to try putting it somewhere else.

  14. When I was younger my sister and I created many forts of sheets, blankets, and pillows from the spare closet. We would use two card tables as the foundation, and drape the blankets over them. Sometimes the entrance was on top of the fort in between the card tables, where we would leave a space. Inside the fort it was cool and comfortable. We set up pillows around the inside perimeter of the fort so we could lean back anywhere. To keep things cool we would put an electric fan inside the fort. It was also a heating fan, so if I set it to the wrong level, it would make the fort really hot! My sister and I could stay in the fort a long time and feel like we had our own private house. I remember whispering with her in the fort and pretending that it was our own house. The only visitors we had were my two Siamese cats, who love to squeeze into small spaces. We liked them, but one time one of them threw up in the fort. This made us take the fort down immediately! I definitely had fun making forts, and I’ll probably make another one now that I have written about them.

  15. When I was about nine years old I went to sleep away camp. I was really scared, so my little brother left me his stuffed animal bunny. It was a blue bunny that was about three inches tall and two inches wide. I was a little homesick, so my counselor told me that maybe I should make a house for the bunny. She gave an old shoebox. I started making the basic things needed in a house. I made a paper bed with the paper I brought from home. Also I made a toilet out of paper. That’s when the rest of my cabin decided that they wanted to help too. We worked together to make a paper table. On the table we made plates. After that we thought that the bunny needed some food. We quickly went outside and picked up some sticks to feed him. We also made him chairs to sit in and a flat screen TV. My cabin and I started thinking about what else we could do for the bunny, but then I realized that I was out of paper. The only way to get more paper was to sneak into the arts and crafts room, so that’s exactly what we did. After all of our activities were over we went into the arts and crafts room and took some colored paper. Next, we went to the knitting room and ran off with loads of yarn. Then we made toys for the bunny house. We made a jump rope out of purple yarn. Also we tied a piece of string together to make a hoola-hoop. It was such a fun thing to do. My cabin mates and I couldn’t stop making things. This is probably one my favorite memories because it was so much fun to work together on the project. I was very proud of this bunny house because it took us a long time to make. I definitely wasn’t homesick any more.

  16. The best thing I remember building as a child was making a fort with my cousin Keona. Making this fort took place on a Spring break at my grandmother’s house. At this time in 2009, Keona was two years old and I was eight years old. Although Keona kept destroying the fort, we both still had a great time together. Keona had a good time breaking the fort and I had a good time rebuilding it. We made the fort with a bed sheet to cover us up and to make it dark. We also used a lot of pillows to put on the ground for comfort and used a couple of clothes pins to hold up the bed sheet. We would pretend to sleep in the fort and we would imagine that there was a ghost in the fort. Sometimes, we would bring food into the fort to eat and we would get in trouble for making a mess. I remember making this fort because sometimes when I see Keona, she always wants to make another fort with me. We really enjoyed spending time together.

  17. When I was seven years old I would have an American girl doll. I would love to dress it up in the morning and take care of it. When I would go to bed I would let my American girl doll just sit on a shelf. One day I said to my mom that I wanted to have a bed for my doll. So I found these shoe boxes and pillows and made a bed. I had all of the boxes staked together and duck taped. After that I would decorate the bed. I stuck little flowers on it and beads. I had a part of my room that would be where my doll would sleep. Once I put the bed together I thought that it would be cool if I made a whole room for her in part of my room. So I grabbed more boxes and put her clothes in there. I would also have a sitting area for the doll. I had a pink carpet, drapes, everything. I thought it was so much fun to put together a room for my doll. So last year I made a doll room for my younger sister. She has an American girl doll too. She was very happy when I made the bed for her.

  18. When I was eight years old it was Winter. I couldn’t go the water park because it was too cold. So I went to the garage and I got some buckets. I filled all the buckets with warm water and unfolded my futon. I rested the top of the futon on a chair. I rolled up my carpet and put it on my bed. I went down stairs and grabbed very big towels, lots of paper, an umbrella, and some beach chairs. I went back upstairs and laid down the towels and set up the umbrella and the chair. I crumpled up the paper and arranged them around the beach chair like sand. I ran down stairs and made some lemonade and put a straw in it and a small umbrella. I carefully walked the drink upstairs where I put it in the cup holder. I changed into my bathing suit and poured all the buckets of water out. Down the futon it went. I slid down the futon about what seemed like one million times then got tired and decided to take a break to drink my lemonade. It was so fun and it didn’t make that big of a mess. It was the most fun I’ve ever had in my room! Now every time I drink lemonade I think about it.

  19. I recall when I was 3 or 4 years old and was living in Maryland. I was sitting in my playroom playing with some toys, when a thought struck. I decided to build a fort. I started making the fort out of pillows, window seat cushions, sofa cushions, and some footlong cardboard blocks we also had in the playroom. I think I slept in that fort for a few hours each of the next couple of days. I thought this was a really cool, and I got my sister to sleep in it with me and let my friends explore the fabulous fort. I had a lot of fun with that fort, and I can’t wait to build one with my kids someday. I think I am going to go ask my parents if we have any pictures of that fort.

  20. “I promise to respet all members of this club. To never brack a rule, to not hurt animals and to be kind to all others.” That was the pledge to my secret club that my sister and I created when I was six. We made the secret clubhouse at our grandparents house under the staircase. We cleared all of the dusty boxes that were in the closet under the stairs, and replaced them with many blankets and stuffed animals. My sister and I came up with a set of rules that we thought would be very important to the club, and we posted them on the door. Of course we were young and couldn’t spell, so we had rules like “no smocking”, “no wepons”, and “no wineing”. I remember that Aliyah and I were really serious when we were writing the rules, and we thought that our secret club was actually going to have important meetings and missions. In truth, we mainly sat in the closet under the stairs and threw pillows at each other. Our club rules are still posted on the closet door today. I will always remember how much fun I had spending time with my sister and playing at my grandparent’s house!

    1. Please disregard my spelling errors but that was how I wrote it when I was six.

      I can bring in pictures of the rules if you would like.

  21. My best memory of creating things is, ever since I was about six years old, I have always loved to make big blanket and pillow forts. They

    would normally be made in the living room, but sometimes I would make them in my room. The forts wer built from chairs, pillows, blankets, and flashlights.

    I would get all of the chairs, small tables, and large blankets I could find, and I would construct a fort. I would align the chairs the way I wanted them, then

    I put blankets on top of them to make a ceiling. Sometimes, I would assemble the chairs according to height, and have the ceiling (blankets) go up and

    down so it was like I was in a cave. I have always had fun making forts, but sadly I always have to take down my masterpeice. I wish I could keep them built.

    Making forts is a fun, creative way to spend extra time. You can make it as boring or elaborate as you want and it will still be cool. Even though it is a

    childish thing, I still love to make forts.

    I remember making secret little areas in my forts, that were covered by blankets and pillows, and I would crawl inside and play with dolls, or

    have a tea party with my stuffed animals. The forts were places where no one but I could go. I would normally make the fort’s ceilings very low,

    just to make sure only I could get inside. My favorite memory of making forts is the satisfaction of creating something that I designed and created. When I

    made my forts, I could stand back and see what I had made. Forts are easy to make, but when you are done, they show your creativity.

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