Construction fun

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Construction challenges using newspaper , sellotape and a ball of string


Newspaper, sellotape, string


What is the tallest tower you can build from 6 sheets of newspaper. Can your tower support the weight of a small beanie toy?
Can you make a bridge to span a distance of 30 centimetres that will support 8 Matchbox cars?
Can you build a table from newspaper that will support the weight of 5 books?
Can you build a structure large enough to sit inside?

Challenge comes by providing children with a distance to span (bridge), height or width to attain (tower/skyscraper), or a weight element (strength of structure). There are lots of different ways that children can manipulate the paper to achieve different results, for example bending, rolling, tearing, scrunching or concertina folding.
Challenge variations;
Construct with other materials that would typically be considered weak or unsuitable as construction materials, such as drinking straws, playing cards or pieces of dried spaghetti.

Reflection questions

Begin each challenge by talking about the problem and identifying what needs to be resolved.
Brainstorm a list of challenge solutions. Encourage children to be as creative as possible and explain that no idea is a silly idea.
Talk about which brainstormed solutions are most achievable given limits on materials, tools and time.
Don’t show your children examples of finished projects before beginning as this is likely to hinder their creativity and problem solving (the exception would be the Rube Goldberg inspired challenge detailed below).
Collect your materials and talk through problems and challenges as they build. When children get stuck instead of providing them with an answer ask a series of probing questions to help them to describe what they think is happening and how they might find alternative solutions.
Help children to accept that false starts and wrong turns are part of the learning process, and that revisions, tests and redesigns are often a necessary part of the process.
With groups of children, encourage openness and sharing of ideas. Collaboration and sharing often lead children to develop more sophisticated responses when designing and building problems occur.
Talk about completed inventions – What is the best feature of the invention? What would you improve if you had more time? What was the most difficult part of the invention to build? What would you do differently next time?


  • Paper,, construction, engineering

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