Building activities are always a great way to spend an afternoon! I saw this idea on Almost Unschoolers to make homemade Tinker Toys with toilet paper rolls and pencils. We didn’t have a lot of pencils on hand, so I decided to use straws. I’ve been saving paper towel rolls for a few months, so I had quite a stash built up!
I set out a stack of paper towel rolls, scissors, straws, and a hole punch. Then I showed the boys how they could build by punching a hole with the hole punch, making the hole a little bigger with a pencil, and then sticking a straw through. Fun! They got right to work.
I was thinking of building structures like I saw on Almost Unschoolers, but the boys wanted to make forts. So they added cardboard from the recycling bin and tape.
If you want a super sturdy cardboard house to play with, I’d just use a box. Our creations were fairly sturdy, but wouldn’t hold up to a lot of play. But I thought that the process involved in this activity was great! Planning, using the hole punch, figuring out what lengths to cut, etc.
Owen (age 3) and I built this fort. He showed me how he wanted the bottom to be, and then I helped him add a top level.
Gresham built most of this fort himself. He had a little trouble getting it to sit correctly because he hadn’t punched the holes at the same height all the way around. I helped him fix it so that it would be more sturdy. It was really easy to add cardboard walls to the design that he came up with!
Gresham’s finished fort:
I think it might be fun to do this again and stick to just straws and paper towel rolls, but then again, the boys had fun, so it was a success!
(By the way, we recycled our creations soon after we made them. I usually don’t let them keep this kind of thing more than a few days unless it’s genuinely holding their interest and they’re still playing with it.)