Museum of Science, Boston

Paper Bridge Engineering at Different Ages

Books for Kids

  • Bridges Are to Cross
    , by
    Philemon Sturges
  • Bridges: Amazing Structures to Design, Build & Test
    , by
    Carol A. Johmann & Elizabeth Rieth
  • Engineering the ABC's: How Engineers Shape Our World
    , by
    Patty O'Brien Novak

Contact Us

Contact the Discovery Center and Living Lab staff at

Paper Bridge Engineering: Toddlers

Paper Bridges can be a fun engineering activity for people of all ages. We provide these generalizations as guidelines about what children at different ages might do during Paper Bridge explorations at the Discovery Center’s Experiment Station, at home in your living room, kitchen, yard, or at school. Listed below are science and technology process skills that children may be practicing during their explorations. Please remember: each children develops are a different rate, so some children in each age group maybe to do some of things described in the age group before or after their own.

How might toddlers explore Paper Bridge Engineering?

Classify - Toddlers

Toddlers can answer classification questions, such as “What shape is this?” by either pointing to, tracing or saying the names of shapes seen in pictures or 3D models of bridges.

Observe - Toddlers

Children this age can think about what these materials are typically used for and where they have seen or used the materials before. Toddlers can touch the paper and feel the weights in their hands.

Toddlers can also talk about where they’ve seen bridges before and what bridges are used for.

Set Goals -Toddlers

Some toddlers may want to try to make a copy of another child's paper bridge and do their own testing. Younger toddlers may prefer to test a paper bridge that someone else made.

Toddlers can be encouraged to set a goal before testing a bridge (e.g. "I want my bridge to hold 5 turtles") - this will give toddlers something to work toward in their designs.

Use Tools & Explore Materials - Toddlers

Toddlers can practice ripping paper, or cutting paper with scissors, while they work to construct their bridge.

Toddlers can also work on rolling and folding paper into new shapes, or crinkling and then smoothing their paper, to see if that makes it stronger.

A balance scale is another good tool for toddlers to practice using. They can sort out materials that are heavy and light. They can figure out how to make this tool go up and down.