Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is easy to work with, and this makes it great for projects for your kids to build. If you do not glue PVC pipe together, it can be used over and over again to make non-weight-bearing projects. A bunch of PVC pipe of varying lengths with a box of fittings can be made into anything a child’s mind can imagine. Here are four projects your kids can make with PVC pipes.
Build a Speaking Tube
These were used on ships to carry voice communication without the need for electricity or any moving parts. Speaking tubes are just pipes with a larger diameter fitting on each end that funnels the spoken word into the pipe. Speaking tubes can be made as a temporary project, or the long tube can be buried a couple of inches deep in your yard. The basic design is a long section of PVC pipe with an upright piece fitted at each end. Add another 90 degree elbow fitting at the top and a reducing coupler to act as the sound funnel. Even a whisper can be heard for long distances through a speaking tube.
Make a PVC Pipe Organ
It does not sound like the grand musical instruments you might find in large churches, but it is a fun musical toy to play with outdoors. Mount upright sections of PVC pipe of different lengths on a backing board. Put a 90 degree elbow fitting at the bottom of each one. Cut some semi-rigid foam to act as a slapper. Those rectangular foam knee protectors gardeners use are perfect. The slapper is used to pound out a rhythm on the pipes. It makes cool reverberating hollow sounds.
Make Your Own PVC Birdhouses
Scrap pieces of 100 mm PVC pipe with end caps makes an enclosed tube that works as a birdhouse for wild birds. Read up on the proper diameter for the access hole to be drilled in the pipe for the type of bird you want to attract to the house. Assist your children when gluing PVC end caps on the pipe section. Drill a small hole below the access hole for a perch. A small piece of wooden dowel works for making perches. An eye bolt attached to one end cap will hold rope or chain to hang the birdhouse. You can buy pre-colored PVC tubes, such as those that you might find at Plastics For Industry, or let your children paint plain white PVC with non-toxic latex art paints, then apply a clear coat to protect the paint from the elements.
Design Your Own PVC Didgeridoo
This one requires adult help because of the heating of the PVC pipe or tubing. Cut a length of 50mm PVC pipe to about a meter in length. Wearing welding gloves and using a heat gun, heat the PVC pipe with one end secured in a vice. Your goal is to make some slight twists and bends in the lower half or lower third portion of the pipe to resemble a didgeridoo. Use a metal funnel to slightly expand the lower end of the pipe. After the pipe cools, sand it smooth. Then, let the kids paint it using non-toxic latex art paints, but first wrap a piece of masking tape around the mouthpiece end to keep it free of paint. After spraying clear coat over the artistic design, use beeswax to form the mouthpiece end to fit it to the size of the player’s mouth. PVC resonates almost exactly like a wood didgeridoo.
The potential projects your kids can make from PVC pipe and tubing is practically endless. As they get older, they can learn to safely cut and glue PVC pipe, tubing and sheeting on their own to unleash their full creativity potential.