I built this gizmo based on one of the contraptions I found on this great site. It’s by a preschool teacher who makes great sensory tables for his class. This a smaller version for the guys and this is one of those things that just guarantee squeals of delight for hours. Something about this age, they love to feed things into openings and see them come out at the other end. Most of their favorite exhibits at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum exemplify this concept.
Here is the contraption in action with just the rectangular chutes.
To make it, I chose a medium size box to be a base and just coincidentally had two long rectangular boxes and a cardboard tube for the chutes. I just used a pair of scissors to cut out squares above the middle of the box and below the middle of the box and then pushed the rectangular boxes through. You will have to cut and fold the cardboard box to make the chutes fit. Cardboard is very forgiving and even more forgiving is the duct tape. You have to play around with it until it works.
Here is one side:
Here is the other side:
I inserted the rectangular tubes while the kids were asleep but didn’t get to insert the cylindrical tube until a few days later. The cylindrical tube allows kids to be on opposite sides and they can just drop things in the chutes and receive things too so they do not have to run back and forth to trade full and empty containers.
Besides having tons of fun, they have to figure out which items will fit in each chute and they can see how the items affect the speed in which they slide out on the other side. They have used balls, beanbags, dinosaurs, Legos, and pretty much anything they can find that can fit in the chutes. Sean is the one that moves the containers around and he has learned to predict the trajectory of the items to know where to place the containers.
This contraption can also be used for hilarity such as this picture here where Sean is trying to catch some popcorn through the tube: