Invitation to Build a Tower

by Meghan

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Any Daniel Tiger fans out there?  My girls are and one of their favorite episodes, which they often quote in real life, is when Daniel and friends build “the tallest tower in the world!” This week’s Architecture and Engineering series activity invites them to build a tower and do just that… while reinforcing architectural vocabulary we learned during our indoor scavenger hunt through play.

Build a Tower - Invitation to Build Sky High a STEM Challenge for Preschoolers

Build a Tower Sky High

The girls and I are mutually enjoying all of our collection of architecture and engineering literature. A sure favorite is Sky Higha mostly pictorial tale of neighbors who seek to outdo each other with the outlandishness and height of their homes. I love that the book is beautiful enough to serve as a fun coffee table choice, but even my toddler and preschooler enjoy it!

With few words, other than labels of people and word bubbles, the girls love telling the story in their own words.  The detailed drawings offer plenty to look at and describe on every page, including awesome architectural features, like columns, domes, famous architects and components, and more!  It also provides a great learning opportunity when, as you might imagine, one house collapses and the other homeowner is left alone at the top of his Ivory Tower, where he can’t even accept his pizza delivery.

Invitation to Build a Tower

Using the book as a segue way, I laid out our favorite sorting tray with materials and invited Big M (age 4) to build a tower, sky high! Materials were simple, and could definitely vary from our selection.

Invitation to Build a Tower - Reinforcing Architectural Vocabulary through Play


Pipe cleaner, cut to various lengths
Miniature marshmallows
Styrofoam board

Cost: Less than $5
Prep Time: Less than 5 minutes
Clean-up Time: Less than 5 minutes

I laid out the styrofoam board and indicated she could use it to create a strong foundation for her tower. I demonstrated how to use the marshmallows to stick the toothpicks together, and how she could insert the pipe cleaners into the styrofoam, then left her to her own devices.

Invitation to Build a Tower - Trial and Error of Construction Materials

After a little material testing, she quickly abandoned the pipe cleaners in favor of the more durable toothpicks.  As she built up and her tower started to falter, she asked for some help.  I reminded her about architectural super shapes, like the triangle, and showed her where we could reinforce her tower to make it stronger.

Invitation to Build a Tower - Reinforcing Architectural Vocabulary and Knowledge of Super Shapes

And as with most projects, regardless of subject matter, it always comes back to Frozen… she decided her tower would make a great Ice Castle for Elsa and Anna.

Invitation to Build a Tower - Or a Frozen Palace for Elsa and Anna

Preschooler Led Project Extension

With Elsa and Anna on the scene, she also quickly decided that her Sky High tower didn’t have enough room for them to move around.  She told me she could build a tower even higher, with more space if she used her blocks… and she was off!

Invitation to Build a Tower - Preschooler Led Activity Extension

28 Days of STEM

This is our contribution to an awesome month long series from our friends at Left Brain Craft Brain.  It features 28 Days of STEM activities.  Don’t miss all the other STEM Challenges shared this week, and the rest of the month’s worth of science and engineering fun!

28 Days of Hands On STEM

Let’s Build Up!

Want more great construction ideas for kids? Check out my latest collaborative ebook: Up! Featuring 30+ STEM challenge ideas to transform your child’s block play into an endless, hands-on learning center. Download your ebook today and get more than 100 pages of printables to go alongside the activities included. Get yours today from the Playground Parkbench store.

Building and construction is an everyday event in our house, but it’s fun to give it an added element of challenge.  And I love when the girls learn through play, without even realizing it! If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out our entire Architecture and Engineering for Kids series, and come back next week to catch the next activity: Making Blue Prints!

Love it? Pin THIS! Invitation to Build a Tower Sky High - A Preschool STEM Challenge


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Emma February 23, 2016 - 1:30 am

Ha – love how Elsa and Anna found their way in their! With us these days it’s My Little Ponies who always seem to make an appearance, no matter the activity! lol!

PGPBMeghan February 23, 2016 - 8:11 am

Always… it always comes back to Princesses. Although last week, she told me she wants to be a Basketball Player when she grows up, instead of the usual Princess Ballerina. Must be all the build-up to March Madness!

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