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10 Surprising Materials to Build Teetering Towers With

Blocks and Legos are great, but have you ever tried building a tower made of marshmallows?

Brian Sandstrom · 20 days ago

Recycled cardboard boxes

Brian Sandstrom

We’ve all made buildings out of blocks or LEGO, but are you a future architect looking to take your imaginative builds to new heights? Try some of these unexpected materials to create tall towers, or combine them all to make your own kitchen metropolis. From the Rotating Tower in Dubai to The Oculus is New York City, architecture is only limited by your imagination… and, well, gravity! 

1. Marshmallows

Marshmallows

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Marshmallows are the most delicious building blocks, plus they make for funny building challenges as they stick together — and stick to your fingers. Use frosting as cement, or use spaghetti or tooth picks as support beams to see how high you can take these delectable treats. Building marshmallow towers is a great challenge for birthday parties or a family night in.

2. Rocks

Rocks

Brian Sandstrom

Balancing rocks is often a practice of zen. It can take a steady hand and many, many tries to find the perfect rock shape that's the next level of your tower. To add difficulty to your build try putting various sized rocks on top of each other. It can be hard to keep your zen when your rocks keep rolling off of each other!

3. Cups

Cups

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Cup stacking (or speed stacking) is an official sport that you can compete in at the Junior Olympics! While you don’t have to build these towers in under five seconds, plastic cups make for a great material to construct with. Try building them in a pyramid, balancing some upside down, or combining cups of different sizes!

4. Popsicle sticks

Popsicle sticks

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Popsicle sticks are a staple material in lots of craft projects, and you probably have some at home. Use them with glue to build a log cabin, or try connecting them using something more unconventional, such as pipe cleaners, to make it a modern home.

5. Recycled cardboard boxes

Recycled cardboard boxes

Brian Sandstrom

Take your kitty out of the delivery boxes, grab some duct tape, and start building the most epic fort of all time. If you build the boxes on their side then the inside provides a mini room or compartment of its own! Use thin boxes as supports across the top, or flatten out some boxes to lay them flat across the top like a roof. Put some boxes on their sides and open the bottom and top to create tunnels!

6. Candy

Candy

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Who says you need gingerbread to build a candy tower good enough for Hansel and Gretel? Load up on penny candies at the grocery store, unwrap them, and see how high you can build them up! Put peanut butter or frosting between the candy to act as a cement that holds your tower as it builds higher and higher. Make sure to experiment with different shapes — for instance, can you build square chunks of chocolate on top of round jawbreakers? Try not to eat them all before you finish!

7. Playing cards

Playing cards

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Playing cards can be used to build many different types of towers. The ultimate test of a steady hand is to try to balance them in vertical triangles to reach new heights. You can also build them on their side in squares or triangles as you see how high you can balance the cards.

8. Sticks

Sticks

Brian Sandstrom

Take your building inspiration outside and build your own kid-sized hut. Start by standing up a stout, thick tree branch vertically — this will be the structure that will brace the smaller horizontal pieces. Or you can prop up sticks against each other in a triangular tent formation.

9. Celery

Celery

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The humble celery stick has a secret superhero identity: Lunchtime Lincoln Log. Celery can be stacked horizontally, or use some peanut butter as cement to bring them up vertically. How high can you build these delicious bites before you devour them and lunchtime is over?

10. Stuffed animals

Stuffed animals

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Just like a cheerleading tower, you can stack your animals to make the cutest tower you’ve ever seen! Can you make it big enough that you can jump into a pile of pure cuddliness?

Building Tips:

  1. 1.

    Build the Eiffel Tower! No, seriously! A great general rule is to have the base be wider and have the tower thin out as it gets higher. This will add stability as it keeps your tower’s center of gravity low.

  2. 2.

    Think of building simple geometric shapes. Squares, cubes, triangles, and pyramids. Not only will you make your math teacher proud but these shapes will add stability as they can hold more weight.

  3. 3.

    Whenever your tower falls over, it isn’t a loss! Think of it as a learning step. What made it fall over? Which way did it lean? What adjustments need to be made so you can build it higher next time? Most importantly: HOW EPIC DID THAT FALL LOOK?!

  4. 4.

    Having trouble getting started? Grab a pencil and pen and try drawing out your tower before you make it. Every real architect makes up an official blueprint before building.

  5. 5.

    Try making it a friendly family competition! Break your family up into teams, give every group the same materials, and see what different structures you all build! Bring it to the next level by adding special awards to the builds: You could hand out prizes for the tallest skyscraper, the most creative, the biggest floppy fail, and the most challenging architectural feat.