STREAM Activity: Picasso Tiles

Which tower will you build?

Activity best for children age 2 and up

There are all kinds of towers in the world! Towers are structures that have taller sides in proportion to their base. Did you know the highest tower in the world has 163 floors? Some towers are tall skyscrapers (Oriental Pearl Tower), some are strong and mighty (Burj Khalifa), and some are beautiful and interesting (Galata Tower). Architects plan, design, and construct towers to make them sturdy enough to support heavy weight and to make sure they can stay standing for a long time. A really tall tower has a different design from a shorter, strong tower or a very beautiful tower. At the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum, we have many different types of blocks and tiles that you can build with! To construct tall, strong, or silly-looking towers, we are going to use building magnets called Picasso Tiles. Below are three types of towers to think about when you are constructing your favorite towers. Which style are you going to construct?

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Materials you’ll need:

Picasso Tiles

Light Table – we have one at SDCDM!

Guiding Questions:

How does architectural design vary with each type of building?

Make a prediction about which one will hold up during an earthquake. Place your tower on a table or chair and test your building by shaking it!

Can you build a tower that is strong, tall, and unique?


Tall Towers

A tall tower has a narrow base and very tall sides stacked on top of each other. See if you can add something on the top, like these triangle tiles!

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Strong Towers

To make a really strong tower, use a big base. This way, the weight is distributed more evenly and the wall have more support. How wide can you make your strong tower?

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Interesting & Silly Towers

Some architects are very creative. Can you build a silly, crazy, or unique tower?

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Can you make a tower that is tall, strong, and beautiful? Come visit us at SDCDM to create any tower you want! Our light table is the perfect place to see all the wonderful colors of your buildings.

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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: 

Awesome Engineering Activities for Kids by Christina Schul

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Dreaming UP: A Celebration of Building by Christy Hale

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Real-World Connections:

Structured block play promotes cognitive flexibility. This is important for the ability to quickly shift focus on all kinds of tasks, and is especially significant for success in life.

Math Connections:

Developmental scientists know there are links between spatial reasoning and construction play. Thinking about the dimensions of each tower is a fun way to build from templates or within a set of criteria. Children’s mathematical development benefits from all of these elements.