Trash Tower Building Challenge

trash tower building STEM activity

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28 Days of Hands on STEMI’m so excited to be with you today as part of the 28 Days of Hands-on STEM Activities for Kids series from Left Brain Craft Brain.

This past week bloggers have been looking at the theme STEM goes green, and it was a lot of fun to pull this project right out of our recycling bin. It’s great because there’s very little setup involved, and when you’re done you can put the items right back in recycling.

Trash Tower Building Inspirationlamp box trash challenge

It all started because we bought a lamp. The girl got a new art table for her playroom, and it needed some light, so husband bought a lamp.

The lamp went upstairs while the packing materials stayed on the coffee table in the living room.

I was getting ready to pick them up when I decided, you know what, let’s play with that trash tower challenge entry

So I went around the house gathering up recycling and building my own tower, waiting for the girl to come home from school.

The Trash Tower Building Challengetrash tower building STEM activity

Of course just having a table covered with boxes and containers is fun, but I wanted to give her a little more guidance and to make it a true engineering challenge.

Does your child love building challenges? Check out Up!, an ebook all about learning through construction play.

So I wrote down some ideas on index cards and left them for her to find.

You can use any kinds of challenges you want but mine were:

  • Can you build a castle?
  • Can you build a house?
  • Can you build an animal/creature/robot?
  • Can you build a tower? How high?
  • Can you build two the same height?
  • Can you build a town?
  • What else can you make?

Other ideas might include (depending on your materials) making two towers that match, building a bridge, or anything else you think will interest your child.

Playing the Challengebuliding with recycling

The girl was really excited about all the stuff on the table and dove right into the challenges.

She particularly enjoyed making a tall tower and designing a castle, which stayed up over night and into the next day.

I had a good time playing with the stuff, too.

I saved some of the good stuff before putting the rest in the recycling, knowing that this is a game we can do again and again in different ways depending on what’s in the house.

Do you ever play games or build with trash? I’d love to hear what you do!




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  1. What a fun game!! Used to have fun with large empty boxes with my kids when they were little (they are all grown up now). A large refrigerator box became a clubhouse, a space ship, and a secret hideout -just to mention a few things -for my oldest son and daughter. Of course, boxes and wrapping paper were always the most fun on birthdays and Christmas morning-presents were pushed to the side.
    The best toys are always the most simple. Thank you for sharing.

  2. What a fun idea! We love to raid the recycle bin for craft supplies but we need to do the same for just random building activities, too! 🙂

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