Wednesday, July 2

Straw Shapes Activity- Tutorial

This activity was a hit with my second grade students (in my previous life as an elementary school teacher) hope your kids love it as well. I'm sure Lisa remembers this one too. This activity is a natural fit with a study of geometry and shape identification. However, don't limit this activity to just making shapes, let your kids build, explore and create. They'll come up with something much cooler than a triangle.

Pipe Cleaners
Straws (buy a pack that has multiple colors)
Plastic Bag (for storage)

6 years old
Younger children may find this activity overly frustrating, but you know your child best.

Step 1:
Cut pipe cleaners into 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces - don't obsess over this part, just estimate. Cut at least 20 pieces. It is simple to cut more as needed.

Step 2:
Cut the straws into at least 2 different sizes. This allows your child to build equilateral shapes - like squares and rectangles. It is helpful if the straws are color coded by size. For example, I cut my blue straws 4 inches long, yellow 2.5 inches and green 1.5 inches. Don't worry about measuring before cutting, just cut your straws three different lengths. I provided my measurements just to give you an idea.

Step 3:
START BUILDING! I call the straws "builders" and the pipe cleaners "connectors." To build, bend a pipe cleaner to a 90 degree angle (again don't obsess, just bend it), place a straw on one side of the pipe cleaner, than place one on the other. This makes a corner. Keep going until you've reached your desired shape (if there is one.)

Step 4:
When finished your child can dump everything in a plastic bag until next time. This activity is easy to transport and store . And you only have to make it ONCE.

Variation: Mini marshmallows and toothpicks. Same idea, different materials. This would be easier for younger kids . . . after they got over the whole eating the marshmallows thing.

Activity Reflection:
My four year old became pretty frustrated with this activity initially as she attempted to make the shapes she saw me putting together. It wasn't until she ignored me and did her own thing that she had some fun. She created this long spiral and a bunch of magic wand looking things that she called "her cameras." She spent the next 20 minutes setting up "photo shoots" and photographing her ponies. Lesson Learned (once again) ~ IT'S ABOUT THE PROCESS NOT THE RESULT. EXPLORATION IS WHERE IT'S AT.

Muffin Tin Monday is featured in an article on Southcoast 247. Here it is.
Thanks to Anne for the write up.


MerrandaVK said...

I love this idea! We do the marshmellow/toothpicks but this would provide more of a challenge for my almost 5 year old. Thanks for sharing!

' said...

My mom used to have us use carrot rounds and toothpicks. Perhaps her way of keeping it healthy... and it was like Tinker Toys (remember those!)

The straws and pipecleaners sound like a great activity for a restaurant. Thanks for sharing! I'm definitely going to do this!

Emily & Jeff said...

Where's the pics of her ponies? That's what I'm excited about!

Jessica said...

Straw shapes are some of the most loved activities I do at school with my kiddos. I use paper clips to keep them together because it's a bit "hardier" than pipecleaners! They sit and work on the shapes for hours and are so proud they built something all on their own with their special design!

Lisa said...

I have totally forgotten about this activity! I will have to try it with my kiddos!

This Girl loves to Talk said...

i tried this idea... worked great.. my 7 and 5 year olds did almost 2 year old loved it and destroyed all her sisters work. thanks

care-in said...

This is a great idea. I will have to remember this when i get back into the classroom next year.

Susanna Joy said...

I shared this as a homeschool activity on my facebook... found you when I googled "St. Nicholas." ;)
Happy Christmas!

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