Still finding fun ideas, and sometimes allowing my girls to play, too.
Rube Goldberg was an American cartoonist. His name has become synonymous with creating a contraption that accomplishes a simple task through a series of complex, mechanical steps. If your goal was for a ball to be in a bucket, you could simply place it in the bucket in one easy step. However, a Rube Goldberg machine might involve ramps, pendulums, items knocking over, and switches being triggered in order to accomplish this.
Here’s an example of a really involved Rube Goldberg Machine.
But there are easier versions as well, like this one.
You don’t need to drop a couple hundred bucks at technology and hardware stores. You can make part of the fun a scavenger hunt to see what supplies can be found in your own home. Cardboard can be bent to form a track. You can use DVDs as dominos. A piece of fruit with string tying it to something higher up can become a pendulum. A vacuum hose can become a tunnel. Duct tape might become a huge help.
This sort of activity involves physics, testing, failing, lessons learned, hands-on project work, and ultimately perseverance until a successful outcome. Little kids might love this, using legos or hot wheels and race tracks as some supplies (parents might need to help but can bond and let the kid be the leader). Older kids can immerse themselves in this and create a more sophisticated machine, with a longer attention span to spend time on this. The whole family can even all do this for a fun group activity. And couples or roommates can even do this as a date night or activity to accompany an evening cocktail. It’s definitely worthy of videoing at the end!
Since your households may include different combinations and ages of people, and may be houses or apartments, we’re listing safe and low-cost ideas that can be broadly applicable, even if a little Yankee ingenuity is needed to tweak something to best fit your circumstance.