Teachers are thrifty individuals who use creative thinking to provide the best learning opportunities for their students in the classroom. In previous posts, I have written about low-cost and free resources that teachers can take advantage of in the classroom. Another one of these low-cost tricks is to use PVC piping for a variety of classroom needs. PVC pipe could be for practical purposes as an assistive technology device or it can be used to create interactive games and activities for students. Examples include using it to create stands, frames, simulation devices or as a play phone, tee-pee, or marble maze. PVC pipe can even be used to make instruments!
PVC pipe is made of plastic and is typically used for plumbing, sewers, and protecting wiring. Since it is made out of plastic, it is highly durable and long-lasting. Many different pipe diameters and joints can be adjoined together to make complex curves and shapes. PVC piping can be purchased from the local hardware stores and is relatively inexpensive.
Below are great resources to help you get started with PVC pipe designs in your classroom.
Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resource System (FDLRS) – PVC Idea & Instruction Booklet
FDLRS provides an entire workbook of resources for PVC pipe assistive technology devices for special needs students. This resource is very extensive and a great first-timers resource. They provide a detailed explanation of the tools that will be needed to construct the various assistive devices, provide detailed materials lists and diagrams, along with how the device can be used in the classroom. They have over twenty different devices including stands, assistive writing tools, frames, easels, and organizers. Each device has a level associated with the directions to determine the length of time and difficulty it will take to build the device.
If you are not a handy construction-minded teacher, this is one way that you can get fathers involved in volunteering at the school. Many fathers always want to help, but don’t know how. This would be a great way to get them involved in the classroom while building such useful devices for the students.
Bright Eyes Learning – PVC Pipe for Activities
Bright Eyes Learning provides ideas, examples, and instructions on how to build PVC pipe toys and activity centers for the classroom. Some of the activities are definitive, the PVC pipe is used to build a particular toy for a particular purpose, and other activities with the PVC pipes allow the students to explore in free-play activities.
The examples from their site include making play phones, a tee-pee and a marble maze. These examples have direct instructions including materials needed and models of what the project will look like upon completion. The abstract examples from the site include using the PVC pipe in activities where students use them as ‘building blocks’, as a sensory device, or as a tube for exploratory games.
To make PVC pipe into an exploratory device, you can fill a clear PVC pipe tube it with colorful nick-knacks like marbles, feathers, or glitter and then cap off the ends. Then students can use this during play-time or to learn about colors or textures. To explore further, the piping could be used to allow students to run various ball objects through the tubes to see what will come out first. It could also be used as an imaginary telescope.
The ideas and uses of PVC pipe in the classroom are endless. Have you used PVC pipe as a learning aid or tool in your classroom? Feel free to share your experiences by commenting below!
Article by Laura Ketcham
Picture by dcJohn