STREAM Activity: Engineer a Toy

It's time to put your imagination to the test!

Activity best for children age 2 and up- Adult supervision with small parts!

Playing with toys is a lot of fun. Toys that look like real objects are great to play pretend with, but one way to stretch the critical thinking of little ones is to use their imaginations to make any object a toy! For example, using an empty box to pretend you’re flying in a rocketship or using pipe cleaners and beads to pretend that you have a garden full of flowers are forms of using your imagination in play.

When you play with blocks, pillows, blankets, boxes and other found objects that is called open-ended exploration. Having open-ended materials to play with helps kids to think for themselves and to problem solve without a set of directions. What will they create with seashells and popsicle sticks? Pinecones and bottle tops can turn into whatever they can think up. There is no end to the possibilities of what can be imagined. Spread out the loose objects you have that are safe to play with, put on your thinking caps and watch magic happen!

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Materials you’ll need:


Popsicle sticks

Boxes any size, any shape

Pipe cleaners

Sea shells


Pieces of material

Bottle tops


Guiding Questions:

Where will my imagination take me today?

Shall I build something big that I can sit in? Or something small so that my toys can fit in?

Will this be tall or short? Long or wide?

What else can I add?


Have a grown up help you gather the found objects that are safe for you to use.

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Take some time to think about what you want to build and what materials you want to use. Think about where you want to build.

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Start building and have fun with your open-ended materials. There is no end to where your imagination can take you!

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Grown Ups-Are you looking for more ways to extend your child’s learning? Check out these extension activities to build upon today’s STREAM activity!

Reading Connections: 

What to Do with a Box by Jane Yolen

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Math Connections: 

Look at all the different materials that you have collected. Do you have more of one type of thing than another? Which items are big, which are small? Can you make a pattern using different objects?