Monthly Archives: November 2014

DIY Reaction Contraction (aka Ball Wall)

One of my favorite places in Indy to take my kids is the Children’s Museum. It never gets old to them and it gives me a place to take the kids when they’re bored at home. And while we’re there, It gives me great ideas of things to do with them at home as well.

Did I tell you that I’m writing a monthly post for the Children’s Museum about doing just that? Each month I get to write about how the museum exhibits spark ideas and activities for us to do at home. You can check out my posts by clicking Right! Here! (go ahead! Click!)

This month we decided to make our own Reaction Contraction, also lovingly known in our house as the “Ball Wall.” Reaction Contraption at Playscape

It’s my boys’ favorite part of the entire museum so we cheaply and quickly made one to play with at home. So I thought I’d share how we did it.DIY Reaction Contraction

So fun (kid-tested, ages 18 mos to 12 years). Super easy (um, do you know me?). Super cheap (under $7).

Here’s what you’ll need:Supplies

  • various sizes of empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls (I used 14)
  • a display board (mine was 36 in x 24 in)
  • enough felt to cover the board (mine took about 1/2 yard)
  • Velcro (we used about 22 inches of the scratchy side only)
  • hot glue gun (it took 2 sticks)
  • scissors
  • a small, lightweight ball (like a ping pong ball)

We started about a month ago by saving paper rolls as they were emptied around the house. I cut out a section running the length of the roll. On the longer rolls, I just cut out a small section of each end so that it resembled a tunnel, big enough that a ball could roll in and out of easily.

I then cut about 1.5 inch pieces of the scratchy side of the Velcro. (See how uncrafty I am? I don’t even know what that side is called.) I hot glued one piece on the small toilet paper rolls and two pieces (one of each end) on the longer rolls. Make sure to secure the Velcro to the side of the roll and not the side opposite of where you cut. Remember, it needs to stick to the board so that the open side faces up.Track pieces

We also had some old display boards the kids use to paint projects on while inside the house. Any kind of sturdy display board or cardboard will work. I laid the board on top of the felt and cut around the board leaving a 1-2 inch border. Work your way around the board, squeezing the hot glue in small sections onto the board and then folding over the felt onto the hot glue to tightly secure it to the back of the board, fully covering the opposite side of the board with felt.IMG_7493

Now PLAY! I started by setting up a pattern that I thought would work and let Lucas (4 years old) put the ball down the first time. He attempted to fix the places that failed and kept maneuvering the track pieces so it would go all the way down.

Then I took them all off and had him create his own track. It was super simple but he was so happy and proud of himself when it worked.IMG_7503

Then Cami (8 years old) and Alaina (12 years old) lined up for turns. I had to make Alaina stop to go to bed. I had NO idea either of them would even look twice at it, but they had a great time trying to out-do each others’ designs.

So the next time you’re at the museum, look to see how you can bring those favorite exhibits home with you. We had so much fun recreating our own Ball Wall. 🙂