Your little Viking warrior needs a sturdy cardboard shield.

You never know what kind of costume will capture your little one’s fancy, but it helps when the costume uses inexpensive materials. A Viking shield is an inexpensive project and can stand up to some rough and tumble play before it falls apart, unless he leaves it out in the rain. When you have the basic shield complete, you can choose a decorative design based on your available time and artistic ability.

Basic Shape

The Viking shield was often a simple circular design with reinforcement in the shield center and around the rim. You can start by drawing a large circle that reaches from your child’s collar bone to below the belly button when he holds his non-dominant arm parallel to the floor across his body. If you don’t have a large compass to make your circle, you can use a large skillet, popcorn can or large flower pot to draw the circle you need to get started. You could find a box knife easier to cut out the cardboard circle, or use a sturdy pair of kitchen shears.

Holding the Shield

When you have the circle cut, your child will need some way to hold the shield across her body. The easiest construction is a three-point harness constructed from heavy elastic. Place one end of the elastic at the 10:00 position and staple it to the rim of the shield. Stretch the elastic across to the 4:00 position with enough slack that your child can insert her arm under the elastic without leaving marks on her arm. Staple the elastic in place and then stretch it up to the 2:00 position, so that the elastic gives your child something to hold the shield with her hand. Staple the elastic at 2:00 and stretch back across the shield to the 8:00 position with the same amount of slack tension as the segment reaching between 10:00 and 4:00. Staple the elastic in place and then cut the excess away. A 1-yard piece of 2-inch wide elastic should provide enough length to accomplish the harness.

Shield Center and Rim

Silver duct tape can give your child’s Viking shield a solid protective reinforcement and look decorative. Take a small tennis ball and cut it in half using a sharp knife or hand saw. Set half of the ball in the center of the shield, with the rounded side up, and tape it in place with duct tape. You can use two long pieces of tape that divide the shield into four equal parts or use shorter pieces that only extend 1 inch beyond the edge of the ball and completely cover the ball. Place a circle of tape around the outside edge of the ball to hold the ball and tape firmly on the cardboard. Place one or two layers of tape around the rim of the shield, overlapping the edge to keep any rough edges from scratching your child and covering the staples that hold the elastic in place.

Shield Decoration

Your shield decoration can be as simple as painting the spaces between the tape a solid color or drawing Thor’s hammer in one section with a dragon head in the opposing panel. Your little one could help you paint the design or use stickers to attach to the shield when the initial coat of paint dries. You could write your child’s name around the center of the shield in runes.This allows for personalization without making your child a target for those who would use the name to appear familiar to the child if he takes the shield outside.