If you’re looking for fun hands-on science activities for your kids, building structures is a great way for young children experiment with planning and constructing. It’s a super opportunity to explore new materials and tools too.
It’s amazing to see what kids can do with a few basic tools and the freedom to build and create whatever their hearts desire. Even more amazing is how long kids will work on a project like this.
My toddlers and preschoolers stayed busy for the better part of a morning building these styrofoam structures, and they returned to the activity again after their afternoon naps.
You may also like our homemade cardboard construction activity.
Cutting styrofoam with plastic saws, and poking craft sticks and golf tees into their styrofoam pieces was a great activity for strengthening fine motor skills and co-ordination. Critical thinking came into play as they planned and constructed their structures!
What a fun and inexpensive activity to keep toddlers and preschoolers entertained, thinking and learning!
Isn’t it great when a spur-of-the-moment, open-ended activity ends up being WAY bigger and better than you imagine it would be?
Recently Jamie from Hands On: As We Grow wrote about the fun that her boys had with their styrofoam destruction activity, and I immediately went to the garage and rescued a couple of large pieces of styrofoam that I’d added to our growing “dump run” pile.
Supplies and Tools for our Styrofoam Construction Activity
For this activity, I set out the styrofoam along with
- golf tees
- craft sticks
- chopped up drinking straws
- rocks (hammers)
- “saws” (play dough knife, a cake decorating tool and a plastic knife)
Now, maybe it was because I just happened to have two construction-lovin’ boys here today, but this may have been one of our most popular activities yet.
I didn’t give them any instruction other than to tell them how the “tools” could be used to secure the styrofoam blocks together. They wasted no time getting right to work and straight into full concentration mode.
They deconstructed and reconstructed,
with determined looks on their faces.
They worked away for over an hour, in a flurry of busy activity, until they felt that their projects were complete, and even then they returned to the table through-out morning and afternoon to tweak a piece here or there and to hammer in another golf tee or to cut another piece of foam.
They were so proud of their finished projects.
The builder of this next piece announced that his was an “ice house”.
What a hit!
Simple materials, no cost and loads of creative fun!
More structure building activities for preschoolers:
Diy Cardboard Construction Set
Toilet Roll Structures
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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.
Love it & the looks of concentration are priceless. Kierna
Yes, when those little tongues start sticking out, you know they’re hard at work, Kierna!
OMG JACKIE, It’ excellent activity. My boys is going to love.
Thank you! Have fun with it, Janire!!
Thanks, Jen. It’s just a cake decorating tool. 🙂
What a WONDERFUL activity! I love it! And it looks like your kiddos did too!
I shared this on Facebook for other mommas to see!
Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂
Thank you! Yes! They had a blast! 🙂
Did you make the holes in your craft sticks or did they come that way? I have some craft sticks like that but not with holes. If you made the holes, I’d be interested in knowing how (other than with a drill I guess–maybe there is a better way??) Otherwise, my son will definitely love this project. Thanks!
No, our craft sticks came like this. The skinny dowel-like sticks came with them. It’s some sort of building set. One of my daycare moms was cleaning out her classroom a few years back and didn’t want them, so she donated them to our daycare, so I don’t even know what they’re rightfully called. Sorry I can’t be of more help!.
Hi, any suggestion for the cleaning up? we always struggel to get the tiny static pieces off the floor/grass. we love the activity though! Thanks!
The only time there were little bits to bother with was when I was cutting the blocks, so I just cut the blocks (with a bread knife) outside. If you were cutting them inside, I’d just have the vac. handy for clean up when you finished cutting them.
We cut things like this in the bath. Same when we fill beanbags or use those little white balls for a project. Much much easier to vacuum up from the bath (be sure to put the plug in to catch the small bits but obviously no water).
Theres Just One Mommy
We did our first creating with styrofoam this week. No doubt about it, so fun for those little construction workers to hammer and create with!
This is fantastic! I love every aspect. And where did you get those popsicle sticks with the holes??
Those sticks were actually given to me several years ago, by one of my daycare moms, Meri. She was cleaning out her classroom supplies and gave me some things she no longer needed. Unfortunaetly, I have no idea where she got them.
They kind of rule : ) Enjoy!
Deb @ Living Montessori Now
What a fun project, Jackie! I featured your post and photo in my Montessori-Inspired Construction Unit post today. 🙂
Thanks so much, Deb! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I’ll look for your post!