Introduction: Paper Construction Sticks

About: I've been a teacher/learner/maker of Math since 1994. I am also a Milken National Educator & NYS Master Teacher Emeritus. Lover of family, music, DIYing, and the great outdoors. Life is good! Also please …

I've used a variety of retail kits to play with polygons and polyhedra. Things like K'Nex and Zometool sets have found a home in my classroom and the students love using them to build geometric models.

As a DIYer, I've also used an assortment of materials to build, including straws and floral wire, pipe-cleaners, and gumdrops and toothpicks.

Chuck Stoffle (@ChuckStoffle), a STEM teacher from Ontario posted a wonderful video showing his students how to make what he calls "Paper Supports", using newspaper and tape. You should check out his video HERE.

Paula Beardell Krieg (@PaulaKrieg), a paper artist from upstate NY, was playing with Chuck's creation and realized that glossy paper has sizing on it. Sizing acts like a glue when wet!

So this Instructable will outline Paula's instructions for making these Paper Construction Tubes. I've added connectors using pipe cleaners.


- glossy paper from magazines or catalogs

- water

- pipe cleaners

- scissors

Step 1: Gather Your Pages

Glossy pages from magazines or catalogs work best. I am using the pages from the New York Times Sunday Magazine. I removed the staples and cut the magazine in half. You can cut the pages to any size you want.

Step 2: Rolling the Sticks

In Chuck's video, he uses a skewer to help with the rolling. Paula's idea is to fold up the bottom 1" of the page. Then fold that in half, then once more. This creates it's own support which will allow you to then roll the page into a tube. I rolled the page tightly.

Step 3: Wetting and Drying the Sticks

Run the stick under water. As you do, smooth out the seam. I also suggest running water through the center of the stick. Then place your sticks on a drying rack and let them completely dry. I also placed them near my dehumidifier to help with the drying.

Step 4: Build and Play!

In the first image, you will notice the pipe cleaner. I cut a pipe cleaner into 1/4ths. Then insert the pipe cleaner into the end of the stick as a way to attach the stick together. Depending on how tightly you rolled the sticks, you should be able to insert two or three pipe cleaner connectors in the ends of each stick.

Use the Paper Construction Sticks to build 2-D and 3-D models! When you're done, simply pull the sticks apart and remove the pipe cleaner connectors. Store the materials in a bag for future use.

I did notice that the seams came "unglued", but the sticks still maintained their shape and stayed tightly rolled.

I absolutely love this as a building model!!! It's a great way to use easily available material.

I also really like the addition of the pipe cleaner connectors, instead of using tape. This allows for the models to be taken apart, and the materials are reusable for future play!

If you have any suggestions or feedback, please let me know. Thanks to Paula and Chuck for their inspiration! Thanks so much for checking out this Instructable.

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