The objective of the PVC pipe activity is to build free-standing structures in any way the children choose. What a fun way to build spatial reasoning skills!
For Christmas, one of the books I got was I can do it! I can do it! and ever since then I have wanted to do this activity. The total cost for the materials, including the bag to put them in and some marbles from the toy store, was less than $15.
I purchased two 10-foot 1/2″ pipes because with the fittings, it was the cheapest way to do this project. One of the fun things to do with the finished product is to roll marbles though your structures, and most marbles would not fit in this size. We went to the toy store and bought 12mm marbles and they fit, but the 17mm did not. So in retrospect, I would perhaps recommend the 3/4″, but I am not at all sorry we got the smaller size because it was cheaper, and we do have marbles that our kids can play with.I went through the tedious job of measuring and marking the pipes with a pencil before I cut them, but when I asked my husband how to turn the hacksaw on, his assistance proved who is the handyman in the house. He measured the size for the pipes and put a up a wood block. Then we cut the desired number of pipes against the wood block and had pvc pieces that were exactly the same size.
With our two 10-foot pieces, we cut
We had a few pieces left over which we simply added to our collection. At the store I had one of their handymen cut the 10′ pieces in half so the pieces would fit. If you don’t have a hacksaw, or some other method of cutting the pipes, you might ask the store people to cut it for you. At our Home Depot, the first two cuts are free, and then they charge a minimal fee for more cuts. This could be worth it for you. I should sand the edges, but I probably won’t get to it any time soon.
You will also want to purchase connecting fittings. I bought 4 end caps, 10 elbows, 10 tees, and I need to go back and buy some crosses. I also purchased a bag to store the pvc pipe activity in.
For more construction tips, watch this dad’s pvc pipe activity for marbles. His is on a much larger scale than mine. I chose this link because I liked the man’s perspective on construction.
The PVC pipe activity can de used and expanded to the hearts content. There are countless ways of using the pipes in solo or group settings. For younger children, let them free play with the pieces. For older children, you can give them challenges like seeing who can build the tallest structure with the same number of pieces, or who can build the most stable structure. PVC pipe is such a wonderful basic building material, and this was more economical for us than buying marble chutes. Some of the toys they have been used for are
The PVC pipes are a fun toy for the whole family, and were a great investment of $15. Just remember that the structures are not strong enough for climbing!