Anyone who knows me well, knows I am no stranger to Home Depot. Having married a man with a penchant for home remodeling, I have learned to navigate the aisles well, in search of the right size of screws, the critically needed electrical wire, or the aesthetically pleasing cabinet pull. Almost without fail, I see something at “the Depot” that appeals to the preschool teacher in me (or maybe it’s the preschooler in me).
Well, here’s one hardware store find, I think is a blast to use with kids. These are vinyl gutters. I can’t recall the price, but I know it was just a few dollars. They’re the same kind used to run along the edge of your roof. I had them cut on site at a variety of lengths- 1, 2, 3, and 4 feet. (I don’t know if there is typically a charge to cut it, I just asked and mentioned it was for preschool. It’s amazing what people will do for those little ones!)
Once they’re cut, children can use their own imaginations along with constructive and spatial skills to build ramps – or a series of ramps- for cars or balls right in your living room or block area. Couches, chairs, blocks, stairs, hands, almost anything can be used to prop them up into an inclined plane!
You can set them up with cups, bins, or buckets to catch balls, marbles, or even water, as it runs along the track! Let the children be involved in creating the track and setting out the targets. Their gears will be turning as they hypothesize and experiment with their new ideas.
Use them in a large water table, or outside with a small pool. Add some toy spiders and sing The Itsy Bitsy Spider, acting it out as you go! Set them out in your sandbox for a sand slide or cement chute. Place them in your playground and see what else the children use them for!
You could even use the gutters on a warm summer play day and have a water race! Have a group figure out how to work together with their pieces of the gutter to get the water from point A to point B. They can hold them at different heights as the water runs from one person’s section to another’s! They quickly learn what a little elevation does for a ramp! It’s a great mix of science and social skills in one as they work together toward the goal. (You could play essentially the same game using a ball instead.)
These gutters could be used in so many ways! Your children will likely show you some new ideas as you let them explore with them! They really lend themselves to exploration with physics concepts like velocity, inertia, motion, acceleration, gravity….you get the idea. As an added bonus, they store rather nicely as they stack one inside the other. So go on. Play in the gutters! Tell your mom I said you could.