Several years back, I got my kids into a family game of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). They fell in love with it immediately and my oldest picked it up really fast. I have always wanted to get my kids into D&D and couldn’t wait until they were old enough to at least try a basic game.  D&D is a great way to learn how math really works.  This isn’t some dry classroom where x = y + 1.  In D&D, there are statistics: If a pit is covered with loose boards, what are the odds someone will fall in?  1 in 6?  1 in 4?  There’s applied algebra and percentages: Calculating how safe you are with armor bonuses and shield bonuses and magic items is a complex series of pluses and minuses.  There is basic economics, from how many silver pieces equals a gold piece, to how much treasure is needed to buy the item that might help on a quest.

One of the coolest things to watch, however, is the problem solving.  Each encounter or puzzle in D&D requires thought and sometimes debate.  Should we attack or hold back?  Negotiate or run away?  How could we possible get this locked door to open?  Does the map suggest that there might be another room behind this wall?  If I cast this spell now, will I need it later and be sorry?  Of course, all of this is in an imaginary fantasy setting, but each puzzle and math problem and encounter with others is a tiny lesson for things that happen in the real world.

Summer was coming up, so I asked him if he wanted to start his own campaign with his friends as well over the summer. They were all ecstatic over the idea, and plans were made. Sadly, everybody had different family traveling plans, so it never happened, so we just continued our family campaign.

A year later it was brought up and tried again. This time it stuck… mostly, since not everyone could come every time, they just ended up pretend fighting their characters outside. Eventually they started using Nerf weapons and adding their D&D rules to it. At this point, I told A about LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) that a bunch of my friends use to do when I was younger. That planted a crazy seed that he shared with his buddies. From that point on, the D&D at our house became full on LARPing, but still with makeshift weapons. One of his buddies even put together a bunch of PVC pipe to make a staff and a dagger. They look like .. a bunch of PVC pipe. But it did what it was suppose to do.

Which brings us to a week ago. A friend of mine is neck deep into movies and sent out a link to a trailer…. (NSFW or kids under the age of 14) Knights of Badassdom (which, OMG looks Hilarious!!! 🙂 ). I of course HAD to show A, but reminded him, that sadly, he will not be old enough to watch the actual movie for another year or so. He jumped up and down and would not stop with the ideas at that point. I told him to sit down and focus and find a few ideas online that he wanted to, that was inexpensive, and I would take a look at his top two and we could put something together ourselves.

That took him 10 minutes.

The next 30 minutes was me writing down what we would need, figuring out how to manage it and ‘hack’ it for it to fit his needs. This was 7:30PM. He then begged me to go out and get the supplies right then and I was so excited about doing it at that point, I agreed. We got out of the house by 8 and hit 3 different stores, finding all our supplies, before 9PM when the stores closed. That was for a shield and a broadsword. In this post, I will discuss how I made the shield. There will be a following post on the broadsword, which took a bit longer due to technical difficulties.

This is what is called a “Punch” Shield. It is used in defense, but also to push and ‘punch’ with.

Supplies:

17″ x 15″ x 2″ thick foam (Joanns Fabric – $6)

Trowel/float (Home Depot $5)

7/8 yd of vinyl/leather look ($8 yd, got another 1/2 yd of another color for the design)

26″ of 3/4″ elastic

Zipties

Build:

I made a homemade compass on the foam. Just took the rope out to the shortest edge and started from there.

Compass the shape of the Punch Shield

Then took the float and drilled 6 holes into it to put the zipties through to fasten the float to the foam. (You will only need 4, I ended up taking out the middle one because it got in the way of his hand when holding it and it really wasn’t needed)

Float

Zipties and float with drill holes

Zipties through foam

Zipties through Float

I then cut the fabric to 241/2″x241/2″ and curved the corners. (An after the fact tip, just cut it into a circle that is 10″ bigger than the foam circle. Then you don’t end up with excess on the corners like I did and had to deal with)

 

24.5" x 24.5" with curved corners

Make a 1″ hem around the whole thing for the elastic to thread into.

 

1" Hem

Thread the elastic into the hem. I used a tip my mom gave me when I was little, pin one end of elastic to the hem, and put a safety pin on the other. The safety pin makes it easier to thread through the hem. I added tape on the end because it kept popping out and sticking my fingers.

 

Safety pin helps, but hurts

A said he wanted a Templar cross on the outside (originally, he wanted a Captain American shield but that was more involved then I was willing to do on my first try :D), so I measured out a cross on the back of the fabric and cut it out. I then just sewed the edges on the fabric.

Drawing the Templar cross

Cross sewed onto the shield

I then fit it on the foam part, like I said before, because I made the fabric square, to fit of circle (major DOH! moment) I had excess, so I just ziptied the top and bottom to make it more snug.

 

Zipties to make it more snug

Voila! Perfect Punch Shield for one super happy guy!