So, the word 'maze' is a little bit misleading here, but for lack of a better term, I am going with it. And no matter what this thing technically is, I promise your kids are going to love it.
Essentially, you are building a vertical pathway for pingpong balls (or other lightweight balls) to follow. The balls drop down different levels and roll down tunnels until they fall out the bottom into a bowl.
It's simple enough for an adult to create but actually quite challenging for kids. The cardboard sections need to be carefully placed so the balls don't go flying out on their way down. And the sections also need to be tilted at the right angles so the pingpong balls don't get stuck.
For older kids, you can probably give them all the pieces and let them figure it out. For my three year old, I had to build the maze for her, but I didn't make it perfect and then asked her to make adjustments so the maze worked properly.
To make your vertical 'maze', you will need:
- Cardboard boxes of various sizes—cereal boxes work great for this
- Magnets—the best magnets to use are the flat promotional fridge magnets you get sent in the mail. I always have out of date calendar magnets on my fridge!
- Sticky tape or masking tape
- Ping pong balls or some other kind of light ball (needs to be light)
- a bowl of some kind to catch the balls as they fall out of the maze.
And here's what you do:
- Cut the cardboard boxes up to make narrow tunnels. You want some of these tunnels to have ends and some not to have ends (so the balls will run right through them).
- Cut up the magnets (the promotional ones will be easy to cut up) and tape them onto the sides of the cardboard box pieces.
- Give the various cardboard box pieces, ping pong balls and something to catch the balls in to your kids and let them create their own vertical maze on the fridge (or help the little ones out and get them started).
I like to pull this activity out when I need a few minutes to get things done. It's entertaining, engaging and great for encouraging problem solving!