How to Build a Tower: 25 Simple Engineering Ideas for Kids

Are you looking for some additional STEM or engineering activity ideas for your kids? Let’s talk towers…… or more specifically, how to build a tower without blocks.

how to build a tower without blocks

Benefits of block play include developing math, science, communication, and problem-solving skills. Traditional unit blocks and Legos are excellent tools for building towers. I also want to share some great non-traditional ways that kids can make towers.

Towers from the Recycling Bin

You don’t have to spend a lot of money on building tools for your kids. You can often find fantastic materials in your trash can or recycling bin. Here are some ideas.

Paper Towel Rolls

Save those cardboard paper towel tubes. In addition to fun craft activities, your kids can also use them to make towers.

Cardboard tubes may present some challenges as kids try to make a stable tower. Kids can add an index card in between each tube, or they can experiment with other methods.

They can add holes and use pipe cleaners to hold them together. You can also add some snips on the ends so that the tubes hook together.

how to build a tower without blocks

Cups and Plates

Use paper or plastic plates and cups to make a towers. Kids can experiment with stacking just the cups.

how to build a tower without blocks

Egg Cartons

Cut up some egg cartons to use for stacking activities.

how to build a tower without blocks

Boxes

As we purchase more and more things online, I find that we have lots of cardboard shipping boxes around the house. Save some of those boxes, tape them closed, and let your kids build with them.

how to build a tower with boxes

Plastic Containers

Save those yogurt, applesauce, and deli containers and add them to your building area.

how to build a tower with plastic containers

Bottle Caps

I love plastic bottle caps because they can be used in so many ways. In addition to using them as counters and for sensory activities, your kids can also use them to build towers. Use them alone or stack them up with wooden craft sticks.

how to build a tower with bottle caps

Toothpick Towers

Many engineering challenges feature toothpick towers. When kids build toothpick towers, they have to put a lot of thought into how to create a structure that is stable.

To create towers with toothpicks, you need to provide some type of material to hold the toothpicks together. The fun thing is that you can use LOTS of different materials. Here are lots of ideas:

It’s fun to use marshmallows to build towers.

how to build a tower with toothpicks

Try gummy bears, gummy worms, gumdrops or other treats.

how to build a tower with toothpicks
how to build a tower with toothpicks

Looking for heathier alternatives? Try grapes, apples pieces, blueberries, cranberries, raisins, or cheese squares.

how to build a tower with toothpicks

If you don’t want to use food items, kids can build toothpick towers with balls for playdough.

how to build a tower with toothpicks

Save foam packing peanuts to use for building and engineering projects.

how to build a tower with toothpicks

Sheets of foam from trays and packing materials are make great towers.

how to build a tower without blocks

Additional Tower Ideas

I listed lots of tower materials from your recycling bin and many ways to create toothpick towers. Need some additional ideas? Check these out….

Straw Towers

You can twist the end of one straw so that it will fit into the end of another straw. Here, we began by poking holes into a sheet of foam with a dowel and then we stuck straws in the holes.

how to build a tower with straws

You can also use straws with connectors such as playdough.

Spaghetti

Use spaghetti noodles like toothpicks. See the list above for materials that you can use to join the pasta noodles.

how to build a tower without blocks

Foam Blocks with Shaving Cream

Adding some shaving cream to foam blocks provides a great sensory experience. Kids can treat the shaving cream like mortar to join blocks to make a tower.

Foam Pool Noodles

I like using pool noodles for fun art projects, but kids can also use them for building projects. Cut a noodle into sections that are 4-5 inches long to use them as cylindrical blocks.

Craft Stick with Cups

Craft sticks and small plastic shot glasses work well together.

how to build a tower without blocks

Tree Discs and Cups

You can also use the small cups with tree discs.

Find over 25 ways to build towers without blocks.

Torn Paper and Glue Collage Tower

Here is a non-traditional tower. Kids can sculpt a tower with a mixture of glue, water, and torn paper.

how to build a tower with torn paper

You can also use things like DVD cases, sheets of packing foam, sponges to make amazing towers.

Do you have additional ideas for how to build a tower? I would love to hear your material ideas so that I can add them to the list.

Here are some additional STEM activities for your kids. Click on the images to check them out.

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