Build Your Own 3D Structure : STEM Challenge for Kids

As a parent, I need to think in every possible aspect to enhance my kid’s thinking ability and especially on how to improve their STEM future. So, this time I have picked ‘Building 3d structures and shapes’ to teach my children through a couple of hands-on activities. Check this to see how we did a catapult last week.

As we all know, kids show much interest on visual part rather than listening to something as lecture. So, I want my little ones to learn the dimensions of 3d structures by performing some simple and fun activities that involve both kin-aesthetic and visual elements which takes major role to make learning last lifetime.

3D Structure Stem Challenge

In the below mentioned activity, children will get to know and learn about simple and easy instructions to make 3d shapes in a fun way using commonly used materials nothing but kids beloved play dough and few sticks. Also, this activity keeps children engaged and active in their free study time. It may even challenging to build and understanding the concept of making and identifying the faces, edges, and corners of different 3d solid shapes.

I made up my mind to choose one as per my elder daughter Pritika’s interest. She is 5+ years old and did not want to disappoint her by choosing any difficult task. My younger one, Tisha started clapping while arranging things required for the activity on the table. 🙂

Before we start teaching our kids about 3d shapes, make sure your kids are familiar with the 2d shapes as well. If not give them a brief explanation or visual orientation on 2d shapes which helps to better understand the 3d shapes easily (check Jamie’s abacus page for handmade crafts for kids).

Suitable For

This STEM challenge is good to go for young kids around 5-6 years old. There are others to different age group. Try out different 3D structures like Pyramid or Trapezium for older kids, to challenge them even better. This can help your child develop critical thinking. For example, they can construct a 3D structure with weight bearing capacity. Or a taller structure etc. Explore building the 3D structure with different objects as well.

Materials required to make 3d Shapes Stem Structures

Generally, people wonder how to explain 3d structures to kids without leaving any confusion in their minds. But our simple materials that are available in everyone’s home made it simple to perform this activity of teaching 3d structures to kids in a very fun way. Let us see what they are!

  • Play Dough (You can use different colours and shades of dough to make the activity colourful and interesting)
  • Sticks (Different sized Sticks are used to make different dimensions of 3d shapes)

What!! Surprised!? Yes, absolutely, that’s it…..we need only a couple of things to execute this super fun activity.

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What are the steps required to keep the things ready before starting doing 3d shapes


Firstly, I asked my elder daughter to spread a big white sheet on the working table. Why white!!? Since we are using different colours, the white background helps the kids to have a clear vision and also to observe the shapes and dimensions made of a variety of colours without any confusion.


Ask again your kids to do small balls out of their favourite coloured play dough and keep it aside. If the play dough gets dry, you can tell your kids to wet their hands with the water to keep its moisture maintained.
Make dough in to small pieces


Now let the kids cut the long sticks into different sizes and lengths. Make sure to keep a few sticks of same size.
3d pyramid go science girls
making 3d square pyramid

Square based pyramid 3d structure

How to do the 3d shapes

Now, we have everything ready to do 3d shapes. Here, you can ask your kids to name some of the 3d shapes they know. You can show them different types of 3d shapes to give them an idea prior to begin the activity. Without the knowledge of 3d shapes, it is waste of your and your child’s time to do this activity as they don’t understand the main concept of understanding 3d structures.

What is the definition of 3d shapes?

In a simple language, 3d shapes are three-dimensional structures or the shapes that have three dimensions. For example, sphere, cube, pyramid (triangular and square), prism, cone, cuboid, and cylinder are some of the basic 3d shapes.
making 3d cube go science girls
making cylinder shape

Once, you give your child a brief explanation on 3d shapes, just ask them to draw a few 3d shapes on a white drawing sheet. This helps them to get more involved and concentrated on the topic they are going to do an activity. It is also easy for them to perform the activity by seeing the shapes and doing.

Let us learn how to make a cuboid…

Different 3d structure experiment for kids


To make a cuboid shape, first we need to make a rectangular base. Take two equal sizes of sticks as a base and place a ball of play dough on their ends. Now, we are going to connect these two sticks with the help of short length sticks and place them horizontally on the sides of the base (two opposite sides will be shorter).

Now the base is ready. Then place the four sticks on top of the four play dough balls of the base. And then cover the ends of the four vertical sticks with four balls of play dough.

We have come to the end, take exact sizes of sticks same as taken to make the base. Attach them to each other using the play dough balls. That’s it, we can see the shape of the 3d structure i.e a Cuboid.

My little one started clapping seeing the 3d shape which is made of her favorite colored play dough and craft sticks. In fact, she is surprised and saying “Mamma! I can make 3d shapes using play dough apart from tiny toys, insect shapes.”
3D Stem challenge

3D Structure Stem challenge for kids

In the same way, we can make all the 3d shapes using play dough balls and sticks. Now, let us know how to make square based pyramid to better understand the concept of making 3d shapes using simple and interesting materials.

Firstly, make a square base taking four equal sized sticks join them in a square shape using play dough balls at their ends. Now, attach four sticks of equal size vertically on all the four corners of the base. Bring them to the mid-point of the square base slowly i.e. nothing but you are pushing the sticks diagonally to the centre. Join all the four sticks that are brought diagonally to the centre with a small ball of play dough. Hey!! You are done with the square based pyramid shape.

My kids enjoyed a lot doing this activity and they later tried making different shapes. Now they are familiar with moulding the 3d shapes. 🙂

Activities For Kids

Making 3d Stem Structures using Straw and Thread

Now let us get into our next activity which I already promised you that I am going to discuss on 3d stem structures. That is nothing but making 3d stem structure using again the simple materials that are available in our home.

Materials required

  • Woollen Thread
  • Scissors
  • Straws
  • Beads (optional)


STEM Challenge What can you build with Straws and pipe cleaners

Procedure to be followed

This is another quick, easy and super fun activity to make large geometric 3d structures. The shapes are made by sucking a thread into the straws and knotting method. Let us see how it is possible to make shapes.

Firstly, make a triangle shape on the flat surface using colourful straws. Now, insert the woollen thread into the straws. (Here to make a triangle shape we need three straws. So, cut the woollen tread into three equal lengths. Cut the thread into enough lengths in order to put knot between the straws).

Now, tie the knots that are inserted inside the straws. Keep in mind that you need to tie the thread of one end of the straw to the other end of the adjacent straw. The same follows to the other corners of the triangle. Finally, when you lift the structure, you can see the triangle shape clearly made of straws holding by threads.

STEM challenge can you construct a 3D shape Engineering maths fine motor and critical thinking combine in this fun activity

 The funniest part happened while doing this activity is my girls couldn’t tie the threads and keep knot as I dint teach them how to do a knot with threads. Hope I should do this before I start this activity. Lol…J so friends make sure that your children are aware of tying knots using thread.

STEM challenge Building 3D structures

Here you can see different 3d shapes and stem structures which my little girls have tried after I showed the basic structures using sticks and play dough balls.

I highly recommend you to try this activity at home along with your kids. This activity helps your children improve their imagination and creative play and takes their basic knowledge of play dough moulding to next level.

For making different 3D shapes, it’s always super fun to include a variety of materials such as Popsicle sticks, tooth picks, coloured matchsticks and straws. In this way kids can explore different materials as well as discover new things and concepts like which ones are easier for building.

Straws are also perfect to this activity as they are light-weight and easy to mould in our required shapes and easy to cut as well. So, there are no limitations to this activity.

After she finished I explained few geometry concepts and she was able to relate and grasp better now. I referred to the Geomag rods and explained about the triangular and square-shaped pyramid. Also, about prisms and triangular shape. I further incorporated 3D to the lessons.

Keeping the foundation of STEM strong we simplify the science concepts and have made them as small experiments which kids can do on their own with minimal support. The catapult experiments and the balance scales include science concepts and engineering concepts. Likewise, each experiment will contain more than one pillar of the STEM and help students to understand easily.

Happy Browsing and do not forget to give it a try!!

Wearing her STEM pyramid hat

Hands on geometry learning about pyramids and triangular prisms Fun STEM for kids

STEM challenge can you build a 3D structure

We shall post more for you and you will have the choice to select and make your kid take the challenge.

In our next we want to bring out Coding for Kids! A special new topic for the coding genius in your kid. Watch out for it.

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