This is the sixth in a series of periodic posts in which I test out easy, inexpensive, low-mess, low-parental-involvement activities for young children to do. In the first, I tested dry pasta in cake pans. In the second: painting with water. The third: marshmallows and toothpicks. The fourth: unspilly stuff in a bowl. The fifth: no-mess paintbrushes. Today’s test: PVC plumbing pipes.
We got the idea for this when Paul needed some pipes and joints for a project he’s working on in the basement (I don’t know what it is—it’s better not to ask, I’ve found), and when he brought them home from the store the kids were fascinated. On his way home from work the next day he picked up a bunch more so he could take his back from the kids.
The children will quietly build things with the pipes and neither bother their mother nor hit each other with the pipes.
- pipes: I think we got about a dozen and a half, some about a foot long and some about half a foot
- connectors: I think we got, like, 8 corners and 4 of the T-shaped ones and 4 straight ones
Shopping for the pieces (we got them at Lowe’s or Home Depot or somewhere like that), then dumping them out on the floor
Medium: Paul says he spent about $15 total buying “contractor’s bag”s of connectors (the bags are cheaper than buying them individually) plus two 10-foot lengths of 1-inch-diameter PVC pipe which he cut himself with a chop saw (he doesn’t know if the store would cut them for you or not, but thinks its worth asking)
Time activity lasted before someone was whining again
AT LEAST 45 minutes
Parental assistance required
Low: occasionally I had to help get two pieces apart
Medium: lots of clanking of pipes
Low-medium: pieces all over the place but easy to clean up
About 1 minute: the kids put the pieces in a bin
Even thought we felt like we had a LOT of pipe pieces, we could have used many more, so there was some bickering over who was hogging pieces. Also, someone DID hit someone else with a pipe. But I don’t know that I’d call either of those an “unexpected” complication.
I’ll have them take turns with the pipes, or else we’ll get more pipes.