This simple straw and stick construction activity is a fabulous STEAM building challenge that kids will love!
Use these simple supplies to encourage kids to use their creativity, problem solving skills, spatial awareness, and fine motor skills all while building these cool sculptures!
My two boys had been home together for a few days thanks to a mystery rash and a sore arm. By the fourth day I was going slightly insane, the arguing, the chasing, the punching, the standing on their heads on the couch!
Obviously if they were feeling well enough to fight with each other constantly, so they were also feeling well enough to funnel that energy into something more creative!
Time for a STEM building challenge!
If you need some more, quick and easy activities to challenge your kids and keep them occupied, try one of these:
Get creative and try a drawing challenge!
Challenge your kids to only build with flat lego!
Challenge your kids to design their own map
Find all the letters in this alphabet find and colour printable.
What is a STEAM Building Challenge.
STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and maths, and STEAM activities integrate all theses science and technology learning areas in combination with art and creativity, into fun and egaging activities for kids.
A STEAM building challenge is a hands-on activity that is a great way of combining the STEAM areas to foster creativity, innovation and holistic thinking. Kids not only learn about the properties of different materials, and the concept of structural stability, and practice problem-solving skills, and critical thinking, they also get to be creative and use their imagination and artistic flare to make a beautiful, and functional construction.
STEAM building challenges can be as simple or as complicated as you like. For younger kids start with a simple challenge using simple materials, like building the highest tower. Older children will love a more complex challenge like building a bridge that can hold a certain weight.
Check out these great ideas for STEM challenges for kids if you need some more inspiration and ideas.
Straw and Stick Building Challenge.
For our straw and stick construction activity I kept things really simple and the STEAM challenge was simply : “What can you build from straws, sticks and tape?”
This meant that the activity worked well for the different ages of my kids (4 and 7) and it allowed their creativity to flow, while still challenging them to build with new and interesting materials.
Supplies for Making Straw and Stick Constructions.
You only need a handful of supplies to make these straw and stick constructions, and you might already have them at home, if not they are easily picked up on your next trip to the store.
We used large straws and smaller bendy straws, but you could also use paper straws or any size straw you have.
- Bamboo Skewers and Toothpicks
We used skewers and toothpicks for our ‘sticks’ so we’d have different lengths to build with without having to cut them
We used coloured masking tape as we found that easier to manage than clear tape. Using a nice heavy tape dispenser also makes things easier for little hands.
That’s all you need – sticks and tape – which makes this a very low mess, easy set up, easy clean up activity.
You may want to cut the sharp ends off the skewers and toothpicks, especially if you are doing this activity with young kids.
How to Make Straw and Stick Constructions
Once you’ve gathered all your materials and issued your challenge, it’s time to watch your kids create!
There are no rules when it comes to making these constructions. It’s up to the kids to work out the best way to combine and connect the materials they have to make the constructions the way they want.
It was quite a challenge for both my kids to work out the best ways to attach the straws and sticks together in the beginning. They had to use some trial and error and lots of problem solving skills to figure out the best way.
There is no one right way to work on this STEAM building challenge, which means each child can use their own skills and ideas. Noah (aged 4) managed better when creating objects flat on the table, but Morgan (aged 7) was keen to ‘build something big!’ and so he did.
He kept adding levels, and shapes, and poking out bits, making sure that the construction was balanced and still stood upright on it’s own. Soon it was so tall he had to stand on a chair to reach the top level.
The boys ended up working together to make the construction taller and taller (STEAM building challenges make a great co-operative group activity!). Noah built shapes flat on the table and Morgan adding them to the construction.
Eventually my boys had made a super tall, super cool, straw and stick construction that they called The Onceler’s House (they are a bit obsessed with The Lorax at the moment!).
It certainly was a great way to engage my restless, want-to-kill-each-other boys for a little while!
More Building Ideas for Kids
If your kids can’t get enough of building activities they might like some of these fun construction play ideas:
Inspire creativity and construction with these printable building challenge cards for kids.
Make your own construction set with this DIY Cardboard tube Construction idea
Set up your own block play at home with these tips and ideas.
Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:
Kate Lloyd says
Ah the memories. I used to LOVE standing on my head on the couch when I was young. Mum hated it! Hahaha
This is such a fab idea Kate. I can imagine your boys would have loved constructing with straws and sticks. Love the simplicity of it.
I love this challenge and the things your sons built, especially the Once-Lers house :)
Great idea and great pictures!
I LOVE this idea. My 2 boys (5 and 8) would be in craft heaven doing this. I may have to find some stick alternatives as I wouldn’t trust my 5 year old with a skewer but I am totally going to do this in the next holidays. Thanks for the great idea Kate.
Great idea kate
just this week they’re killing each other, this sounds like just the idea, great photos, thank you
Finally! Another mom who understands the endless energy of sons, but we LOVE our boys ! The best solutions in life are so simple… who would have thought so much creativity from straws and tape – NO expensive video games needed.