When you're a preschooler, the urge to build can strike at any time. The inspiration can come from almost anything: an empty milk carton, a sugar cube, a roll of toilet paper or a marshmallow. We adore wooden blocks and other construction toys, but there’s something about taking up a new set of objects and fitting them together that really inspires our littlest builders. If we let them, our kids will make toys out of pretty much anything they find -- so let's let them! Some of our Savviest parents have contributed their ideas for making towers, forts, marble-runs and more entirely from things found around the house. So get building!
My toddlers love to hide behind and under things. I often find them under the table playing hide-and-seek, so we started putting a sheet over it to make a fort. Now we play a game called 'Build me a fort or something else' where they have to say what type of building they are making and what they would find inside. So, instead of just a fort, they often make a store and they name all of the things they would find there. Or, they make a school and name all of the things in a school. They've even made tunnels where they find cars and trucks and a doctor's office where they find stethoscopes and band aids. They've made their aunt's house and named all of their cousins and so on and so on. It's really interesting to hear what they want to build and why.
Use a large cardboard box, big enough that your kid can crawl into it (stove or refrigerator boxes work great) and create your own playhouse, fort, car, truck, whatever he or she would like! Just cut windows and doors and decorate the outside of the box with markers or crayons.
The cardboard tubes from paper towel rolls and toilet paper rolls can be used to make great marble runs. Decorate the tubes with paint, stickers, markers, or crayons. Use masking tape to attached them in any direction you like, forming a multi-level structure of any height. The tubes can also be cut in half lengthwise to create open chutes for the marbles. At the bottom of your structure, secure the tubes with masking tape to a large piece of cardboard for stability. To catch the marbles, add an egg carton at the end of the chute. Drop your marbles in the top and watch the fun!
Don't throw away your empty milk cartons... start washing them out and creating a collection. When you fold down the top of the milk carton, they can become excellent building blocks -- large enough to build a fort. Once you get a good number of them collected, allow your child to decorate the milk cartons with paper, paint, or glitter to your child's suiting. This is an excellent project to teach your child recycling and environmentalism and satisfy your child's desire to BUILD, BUILD, BUILD.
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