Thursday, December 1, 2016

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Wrapping Paper Cardboard Tube Marble Run STEM Challenge

You know that moment when you get to the end of a wrapping paper roll and you think, "I'm sure there's something I should do with this giant cardboard tube before I throw it away..."? Wait, that doesn't happen to you?!!  ;)  Well, that's'll still love this Christmas-y STEM challenge!

I've been brainstorming ideas for STEM activities (like this ribbon & bell chime STEM challenge) for this Christmas Supplies STEM Projects series with Sarah from Little Bins for Little Hands, and when I mentioned this project to my oldest, she dropped what she was doing and came over to get involved. 

In full disclosure, I actually turned my 9-year old loose on this project...and she loved it! She's always been passionate about recycling, so creating a marble run with something that was on its way to the recycle bin really spoke to her. Plus, she loves creating things, especially a cool marble run. You could very easily do the same project with your preschool aged kiddos--you just have to help them more. In fact, we have done very similar things with kids 3-6 years old.  :) 

Usually, when I introduce a STEM challenge to my kids, I present it as just that: "Today, I have a challenge for you!" And they usually love it! This time, though, I actually set out the supplies and started working on it myself. I thought of the similar projects we'd done in the past and how they required a dexterity that my preschoolers just hadn't developed. I figured they would see me doing something awesome and join in. Well...they did! 

But first, my 9-year old saw me setting up and asked what I was doing. I told her, "Building a marble run out of the cardboard tube at the end of the Christmas wrapping paper roll. I might use a jingle bell too." And that was literally all the invitation she needed! She came over, sat next to me, and started offering suggestions and helping any way she could. After I taped the first section to the wall, I offered to let her work on the project. She very happily took over!

When she finished, my preschoolers were all over it! They wanted to run both the marble and the jingle bell down the path over and over and over...

The supplies were SO simple...truly just left-overs from Christmas wrapping paper (which is why we called it a Christmas STEM challenge)! We used one wrapping paper cardboard tube cut into four sections and tape. And a marble and jingle bell, of course! And yes, I will totally admit to covering the roll in wrapping paper. It totally made it prettier, and since I have three girls, "pretty" is important!

Fun Fact: One Christmas wrapping paper cardboard tube is the same length as two paper towel cardboard tubes and two toilet paper cardboard tubes! You could do this project any time of the year using paper towel and toilet paper cardboard tubes before you recycle them!!

The "Short Version":

1- Gather your supplies: a wrapping paper cardboard tube, scissors, and tape. (I was actually tempted to unwrap a second roll of paper, but I resisted...we can add to our jingle bell "marble" run later!)

2- Cut the cardboard tube open by cutting along its length once. This makes it easier to work with. Then cut the tube into 3-4 sections. 

3- Use tape to position the tube pieces along a wall to make a marble run! Test each piece before you secure it with tape! Make sure all your preschoolers get to help with this part!!

I would love to know if you make a Christmas wrapping paper cardboard tube marble run!! Feel free to send me a message, leave a comment, or stop by my Preschool Powol Packets FB page!

This week I am joining up with Sarah at Little Bins for Little Hands to share STEM activities you can do with your kiddos and Christmas supplies like ribbons, wrapping paper, tape, etc.!

Happy Educating,

I may share at any of these parties!

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Unknown said...

Hi. We will be doing this challenge for the second time with our Homeschool group. OUr first try was a few years ago. The kids had a blast and some were asking to do it again. Tomorrow we give a second try. OUr group consists of about @ 48 kids ranging from 5 to 17 years old. Thank you for your post.