Do you want a building (ie – fort, house, etc) in your classroom that sparks your students’ imagination? Are you in search of a solution that is versatile and not permanent (in other words, a structure that can quickly and easily break down when needed)?
Teacher friend, if you’re nodding your head, then you’ve landed in the right place. Woohoo! A PVC building is the ticket to leveling up the dramatic play in your Imagination Center. This simple step-by-step guide (with photos) was created just for you!
In this blog post, we will cover each step for building a PVC structure in your classroom. Here’s how:
- Gather the materials.
- Prep the pieces.
- Assemble the PVC building.
For years, I wanted to provide my 4K friends with a building to enjoy during Play Workshop, but I ran into major roadblocks. First of all, our classroom is limited on space. Second, the building kits I came across were expensive! Finally, the structures I found were permanent. (Ummm, what if my 4K friends want a rocketship instead? Where do I stick that building now?)
Then I discovered the idea of creating a PVC building! This option solves all of these problems. First, a PVC building can be cut specifically for the space available in each unique classroom. Second, while PVC is not what I would consider cheap, the overall cost is less than the average building kit out there. And third, PVC buildings can easily and quickly be broken down, then stored away until your students want it again.
Amazing, right!? Okay, let’s get to it!
Gather the Materials for Your PVC Building
Where to Shop
Home Depot was our store of choice. However, if a Home Depot is not in your area, don’t fret! Other great options are Menards, Lowe’s, and Ace Hardware. The truth is that PVC materials are widely available, so any home improvement store will be a perfectly good option. Even Amazon has everything you need for this project.
What to Buy
For this project, you will need to get your hands on the following:
- PVC pipe cutter (though a hacksaw or power saw will also get the job done)
- 1-inch PVC Schedule 40 Slip Side Outlet Elbows (8 pieces)
- 1-inch PVC Schedule 40 Slip Tees (4 pieces)
- 1-inch PVC Schedule 40 Slip Elbows (2 pieces)
- 1-inch PVC Pipes (9 pieces at 10 feet each = 90 feet total)
- measuring tape or yardstick
- permanent marker
IMPORTANT: Make sure you are grabbing the PVC fittings that say “Slip.” Otherwise, you might end up with “Threaded.” This was new information to me, so I want to point it out to you, too, just in case.
If you are thinking, “Umm, what is all that?” don’t sweat! Everything is clearly labeled at the store. It was pretty darn easy to locate everything we needed. If nothing else, the employees at home improvement stores are typically friendly and helpful.
How to Budget
Prices will vary, of course, but I want to give you a rough idea of how much it cost to create this PVC building for our 4K classroom.
- PVC pipe cutter = $14.00
- 1-inch PVC Schedule 40 Slip Side Outlet Elbows = $4.00 x 8 pieces = $32.00
- 1-inch PVC Schedule 40 Slip Tees = $2.00 x 4 pieces = $8.00
- 1-inch PVC Schedule 40 Slip Elbows = $1.00 x 2 pieces = $2.00
- 1-inch PVC Pipes = $7.50 x 9 pieces = $67.00
In summary, the grand total for this project was $123.00. Take that into consideration when you are deciding whether or not to create a PVC building. Honestly, I did not add up the price tags until the cash register did the math for me. Looking back, I wish I had the project pre-approved for reimbursement by my admin. Perhaps YOU can!
Prep the Pieces for Your PVC Building
Measure the PVC Pieces
We used a yardstick and permanent marker to do the measuring. This is how to measure the PVC pipes:
- (9) 50-inch pieces
- (3) 42-inch pieces
- (4) 34-inch pieces
- (4) 1 ¾ inch pieces
Cut the PVC Pieces
We had originally planned on getting the PVC cut at Home Depot. However, the employee told us they are not allowed to cut PVC, which made me panic. But then he and my husband introduced me to the miracle tool called a PVC cutter.
If you have a smaller vehicle, you may need to cut the PVC pipes down before you head home. My husband and I realized the 10-foot pieces were not going to fit in our family vehicle, so we did the cutting right there in the Home Depot parking lot. 🙂 The PVC pipe cutter made this process easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy!
If this will be the case for you as well and you already own a PVC pipe cutter, remember to bring it to the store. You will also want to grab a permanent marker and yardstick or measuring tape from home as well.
Assemble Your PVC Building
Connect the PVC Pieces
Okay, let’s walk through the assembly process step-by-step together. There are 12 simple steps altogether. Check out the photos along the way, so you know which way to position the fittings on the PVC pipes.
Step 1: Attach a Side Outlet Elbow on each end of one 50-inch PVC pipe.
Step 2: Stick a 50-inch PVC pipe horizontally into each of those two Side Outlet Elbows.
Step 3: Attach an Elbow to both of those PVC pipes.
Step 4: Stick a 50-inch PVC pipe vertically into each of the four fittings.
Step 5: Attach a Side Outlet Elbow to each of the four PVC pipes that are sticking up.
Step 6: Stick those four little 1 ¾ inch PVC pieces horizontally in the front and back going inward to the center.
Step 7: Stick a 42-inch PVC pipe on both of the sides (front to back).
Step 8: Stick a Tee on each of the four little 1 ¾ inch PVC pieces. Position these four Tees on a diagonal, as this will be the base of the roof.
Step 9: Stick a 50-inch PVC pipe into the Tees (so one in the front and one in the back).
Step 10: Stick a 34-inch PVC pipe into the Tees that are facing upward and inward on a diagonal. These PVC pieces will come together at the top for the roof.
Step 11: Attach the last two Side Outlet Elbows in order to connect the 34-inch PVC pipes at the top.
Step 12: Stick the last 42-inch PVC pipe horizontally into the Side Outlet Elbows at the top.
Congratulations! You just assembled a PVC building for your classroom. Now you have provided your students with a structure they can use as their imaginations see fit!
Decorate Your PVC Building (Or Not)
Already I have received questions from teachers about what comes next. Educators have wondered, “Will you throw sheets over the top for a roof and walls?” and “Are you going to add windows?” and other similar questions. The answer is “no . . . but also maybe.”
Let me explain. The structure will remain as is in its skeleton form at the beginning of school. However, if our 4K friends express interest in adding decorations and details, then we will do that together.
Click HERE to see our Imagination Center as a house.
Helpful Tips and Resources
Do you have a question about building a PVC structure for your classroom? If so, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram. I posted about this project over there as well.
You can also reach me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Speaking of email, are you receiving our weekly Play Workshop Provocation? These value-packed emails are published every week, so if you are not already on board, you can sign up by clicking here (or the image below).
If you want to dig into other ways to level up dramatic play in your classroom, check out these helpful online articles:
- Encouraging Dramatic Play in the Early Childhood Classroom by Kristin Rydholm (Edutopia)
- The Building Blocks of Dramatic Play by Tom Hobson (Edutopia)
- Engaging Pre-K Learners by Following Their Interests by Edutopia
For my fellow podcast listeners, here is an episode line-up for you:
- How to Create a Successful Dramatic Play Learning Center in Preschool by Elevating Early Childhood (Pre-K Pages / Vanessa Levin)
- How to Use Felt Board Stories for Retelling by Elevating Early Childhood (Pre-K Pages / Vanessa Levin)
- Dramatic Play by Creative Kindergarten
Now that you know where to shop, what to purchase, how much to budget, as well as how to measure, cut, and assemble, you are ready to get started with creating a PVC building for your classroom!
Do you plan to use this blog post as a guide? If yes, I would love to hear about it! Drop a line in the comments below and share your plans with me.
Pin this image now, so you can find it easily later!
Disclosure: This blog post might contain affiliate links to my Amazon store. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn a small affiliate commission, if you click through a link and finalize a purchase.