Preschool Craft to Build a Bridge

by Erica Loop, Demand Media

    Help your preschooler develop her math, motor and even social skills by building a cool, crafty bridge. Your mini-engineer can design, construct and play with a simple scale model of any type of span from suspensions to beam bridges. You can also teach your child about recycling by reusing household items for some of your bridge building materials.

    Types of Bridges

    Before starting, familiarize yourself with the various types of bridge constructions so you can select one appropriate for your preschooler. The beam bridge is the simplest construction. It is made from a horizontal beam with concrete piers at each end as supports. The truss style uses an assembly of triangles across the span for support. Although this construction is more complex than the beam style, the simple geometric shapes are still easy enough for a young child to handle. A suspension bridge uses lines suspended from tall towers and may be too difficult for a preschooler.

    Materials

    Depending on which bridge your preschooler chooses, you will need slightly different materials. Shoe boxes, cereal boxes or packing boxes are excellent options for harvesting cardboard. Paper towel tubes work well as beams -- or even piers, if you cut them. Other materials that you will need include craft sticks or clean Popsicle sticks, clear-drying glue, tape, straws, tempera paint and a brush. Make sure that all craft materials such as paints and glue are nontoxic and rated safe for children under 6 years of age. Read the manufacturer's label for specific safety information.

    Truss Construction

    With its patterned triangle structure, the truss bridge is a perfect way to help your preschooler learn about basic geometry. Have your child make at least eight triangles from Popsicle or craft sticks. Overlap the stick edges and place a dot of glue in between, like a sandwich, to attach. Use tempera paints and a thin brush to add a realistic bridge color such as brown or yellow, or try a fanciful hue or a rainbow selection. After the triangles dry, glue the bottom, horizontal, stick to the top of a long, rectangular cardboard box such as a shoe box. Glue at least four triangles in a row on each of the long sides of the box. Dot glue onto the tip of each triangle, and rest a horizontal layer of craft sticks on the top to complete the look.

    Beam Bridge

    Create a basic beam bridge structure with a horizontal piece attached to two small, thick piers on either end. Use a long, thin cardboard box such as a bracelet jewelry box for the beam or help your preschool cut her own beam from a rectangular piece of cardboard. Attach two piers, one at either end, using glue. Use small, thick rectangular boxes or two cubes of Styrofoam as piers. Another option is to build the entire structure out of Popsicle or craft sticks. Cut a rectangular strip of cardboard that is no longer than 12 inches. Have your preschooler draw a line of glue down the center and attach craft sticks vertically next to each other in a row to make the beam. Glue together three craft sticks in a row and stack at least 10 on each with more glue to make the piers.

    Resources

    About the Author

    Erica Loop is an arts educator and freelance writer. She has been freelancing since 2010 and writes mostly child development and kids' activity articles for websites such as education.com. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh.

    Photo Credits

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