Rock, Paper, Scissors – Bay Area Discovery Museum

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Build a freestanding structure (as tall as possible) out of rocks, paper, and scissors! This group activity presents children with constraints and challenges them to use their imagination and problem solving skills.

Materials Required

  • 10 pieces of heavy paper
  • Scissors (one per person, for cutting only)
  • Timer
  • 5 rocks
  • Yardstick (for measuring only)


  1. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Use the rocks, paper, and scissors to build a freestanding structure that is as tall as possible. Use the scissors to cut the paper only. They should not be used as part of the structure.
  2. When time is up, use the yardstick to measure the height of the structure. How tall is it?
  3. If there is more than one group, have each group share the height of their structure and the strategies used to build it.

Additional Tips

Try these activity variations:

  • Build a structure where a rock is placed above the highest piece of paper. How high can the rocks be placed?
  • Try this activity with regular paper. How does it compare?
  • Build a structure using rocks and paper, but without using scissors.
  • Increase the building time to 30 minutes. Is it possible to build a taller structure?

Links to Creativity

Any time an activity limits your materials, it provides constraints, which are obstacles that can help force us into coming up with creative solutions. With this activity, children use materials in ways they aren’t traditionally used to.

Supporting research includes:

Stokes, P. D. (2005). Creativity from constraints: The psychology of breakthrough. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Stokes, P. D. (2007). Using constraints to generate and sustain novelty. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts1(2), 107-113.



This activity was contributed by Destination Imagination, Inc. For more information and resources see ©Destination Imagination, Inc.

Rock, Paper, Scissors

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