This STEM Lab idea was born when our monthly dog food delivery arrived on our doorstep in an over-sized Amazon box, on the first snowy afternoon of the New Year. As with all packages, the kids were way more interested in the box and the packing material than its contents.
This time, they zeroed in on the large sheet of packing paper the dog food was wrapped in and set aside the box for a future rocket-ship or fort building project. My son wanted me to draw him a racetrack and my daughter wanted Rapunzel’s castle. We settled on a paper town …
I originally titled this STEM Lab “Urban Planning”, but I felt the need to add the “sub” prefix (as in less than perfect) when stoplights started appearing in the treetops, a pack of princesses hijacked the department of public works and emergency services, and a troupe of turtles showed up to battle the large blaze that had engulfed the entire northeast quadrant of town.
Back in my engineering days, I was taught that successful urban planning improves the welfare of a town and its residents by creating a safe, energy-efficient, accommodating and attractive living environment.
Left to their own devices, my kids managed to create a dangerous, unproductive, unlivable and highly-undesirable little township. But they spent an ENTIRE snowy afternoon cutting, coloring, gluing and creating their little dream village!!
This Activity Can Help to Enhance:
- Shape Identification Skills
- Engineering Vocabulary
- Spatial Reasoning
- Roll out large sheet of paper or cardboard. (In this case I used packing material, but the backside of wrapping paper also works.) Cut strips of black paper to glue down for roads. (I cut mine the width of a ruler to make the cutting/measuring easier. You could also draw roads using a black marker.)
- Cut geometric shapes such as squares, circle, triangles, rectangles and octagons to use as buildings, stoplights and street signs. And, amorphous shapes for ponds/lakes/snowbanks. (I also found a Play-Doh car cookie cutter set that I traced to make cars and trucks.)
- Hand over the glue sticks and let them go to “town.”
ACTIVITY ENHANCEMENT IDEAS:
Once the prime gluing is done, label your kid’s favorite features around town and break out some markers, crayons, stickers, cotton balls (for snow), popsicle sticks, glitter …. to accessorize and add depth to their messy municipalities!!