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One of the perks of living in the Chicago area are the amazing fantasy structures and buildings created by some of the most famous architects and engineers.
As a kid, I remember feeling so proud that the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower, but I still can’t call it that) was the tallest building in the world. Not to mention Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, and Mies van der Rohe were Chicago pioneers of modernist architecture.
A few months ago, we hopped on the Metra and took our kids to Millenium Park and walked through the Chicago Loop. My kids were mesmerized by the beautiful Chicago skyline.
This month I’m participating in a 28 Day Steam Activities for Kids hosted by Left Brain Craft Brain. Therefore, I thought it would be fun for my kids to create their own STEAM fantasy structures inspired by the buildings in Chicago and also inspired by one of our favorite books Iggy Peck Architect by Andrea Beaty. This book tells the tale of a little boy who loves building so much, he builds structures out of dirty diapers. Then his second-grade teacher squashes his innovation and creativity. In the end, a serious calamity allows Iggy to use his skills to save his class.
Just like Iggy, my students were given random objects to create their own fantasy structures. Here’s what they needed:
- floral styrofoam cones
- floral styrofoam circular base
- multicolored toothpicks
- colorful foam beads
- tempera paint (various fun colors)
Before the kids started to build, I hot glued the styrofoam cone to the circular base. If you have random styrofoam pieces, those could also work to make the build look more abstract.
Next, the children painted their white styrofoam pieces with colorful tempera paint.
Then, I explained the concept of creating a structure that has a stable base and that looks balanced. I showed them how to add the toothpicks and the foam beads to the sculpture.
I asked the kids, “What would happen if there were too many toothpicks on one side? Would the structure stay stable or tip over?”
As the kids worked, they invented these amazing fantasy structures that had a specific purpose. One child made a fortress, another child made a Ferris wheel, and some just enjoyed the freedom to build.
Fantasy structures are a fun and project to encourage your engineer to invent, build, and persist in failure.
This post was part of a 28 Days of STEAM Activities for Kids, hosted by Left Brain Craft Brain. Check out her amazing site for more STEAM projects!
So colorful! And I love the learning about how a stable base is so important when creating a structure. It’s amazing what kids can make using everyday objects – they have such wonderful imaginations.
Stasia Smith says
What would be a good substitute for the styrofoam? I want to use recyclable items.
Marina Gallovitch says
Hi Stacia, I’ve done this project with free styrofoam. I asked parents to save and bring in styrofoam pieces from packages and we painted and added toothpicks. I hope that helps.