STEM for Kids: Paper Building Blocks
This is a perfect activity for those kids who love building with blocks. Instead of plastic blocks, this activity uses heavy-duty paper (which can be RECYCLED!) Blocks are a toy staple – they can be stacked and knocked over numerous times and provide entertainment time and time again. It’s a great activity for young kids to learn eye and hand coordination, too!
- Thick cardstock paper
- Exacto knife or paper cutter
- Cutting mat
- Optional: Objects to place on top of your blocks to see if your “building” stays!
Begin first by selecting the colors of paper you want to cut for your blocks. Place on cutting mat. Score your paper vertically at the 1-inch and 2-inch marks and trim your paper completely at the 3-inch mark. To score paper, lightly drag your Exacto blade along your straightedge, making a light line in the paper. This will make folding easier.
Repeat the scoring and trimming process with each color selected.
Trim the lengths of scored paper crosswise into 1-inch strips. If you have a paper cutter this would be the fastest method for cutting. Or, you can use an Exacto and straightedge.
Cut some paper “planks”, 1-inch strips of paper that are not scored. They can be 3 to 6 inches long.
Fold your 1-inch strips into thirds along the scored lines.
Tape the open edges together to form a triangle.
Repeat folding and cutting until you have a bunch of blocks assembled.
Now it’s time to build!
Start positioning the triangles in a row alternating between triangles that are right side up and upside down. Add a plank or two on top of each layer. When you have a few layers, you can test how strong your paper structure is by balancing objects on top of it! In our case, we tested Hot Wheels. We got two cars to sit on top of our structure!
Without knowing it, this was a good “engineering” project for the kids to do, figuring out how to keep their structure from falling. Of course, watching their structures fall also was half of the fun! Each time they gradually tried to make their structures higher and longer. We discovered that created more of a slippery slope when placing objects on top. Our paper blocks now sit in a bag, ready for another afternoon of building.
Photographs and content by: Heather Kucenski