I think I first noticed PVC structures in some of the catalogs they had at the daycare center when I was interning (years ago). I thought it was pretty cool. Most of the structures were in the form of screens or panels. Some were configured into dramatic play activity centers with cutouts for interaction on either side of the panels.
Last Updated: 04/17/2017
Now I am not sure that the suppliers listed the items as PVC panels, but as a budget DIY’er I’d recognized that PVC tubing anywhere. Even though the tubing creating the panels came in bright colors, I knew it was simply the same type of PVC piping I would see at the hardware store. By the way, those activity panels were quite pricey at $300 and up.
The next time I noticed PVC being constructed into something far from plumbing was when I visited a daycare center as part of an observation for my child development class. I noticed that PVC had been used to construct outdoor easels and equipment bins. In my mind, I thought “I knew it! I knew it was just PVC.”
PVC is kind of an erector set for grownups.
What I made from PVC
Fast forward to a few years ago and I started thinking about creating some PVC structures for my childcare using simple PVC piping. I have created a lightweight gate for the backyard (left), a baby mobile (see below) and I have plans to create a teepee this year.
I have even made a Pinterest board devoted to what you can create with PVC. So today I thought I would inspire you to create with this super affordable, easily accessible plumbing material. Here are 10 PVC structures you can make for your childcare and save a lot of money at the same time.
10 PVC structures you can make for Childcare
1. Sensory Table
You know those expensive Sensory Tables that they tell us we should have at our childcares? Well, what if I told you could make one for $30 or less? Here’s how.
This one has a funnel and pipe extension to extend the play.
2. Baby Mobile
My baby mobile stand looked a little different, but it’s because it’s so easy to create different structures with PVC piping. Check out this mobile stand.
3. Art Easel
Remember those easels I said I saw at the school. Well here are plans to create one for your indoor or outdoor space.
4. Soccer Goal
How about something to wear the kids out before naptime? This Soccer Goal should do the trick. You can even use the same bouncy balls you already have.
This is the TeePee I was talking about. Yep, I bet you have seen these on sites like Land of Nod or The Pottery Barn for $$$. But did you know you can make a TeePee? Well, you can, and for much less than what they cost retail. Check out this easy DIY to make one of your very own.
6. Kid’s Car Garage
7. Equipment Cart
How about an equipment cart to gather all that stuff before you go back inside? I’ll bet you can put one together for far less than this $315.00 cart!
Get this one ready for the hot Summer months ahead. The kids will love staying cool under this Water Sprinkler all Summer long.
One of the most attractive features about using PVC piping is it is completely collapsable for easy storage.
9. Ball Sorter
Ready to step up your PVC game? Create this ball sorter and get different colored balls for the kids to practice color sorting.
I think I saved the best for last. Create this basic house structure and let the kids make it into whatever they want it to be. Drape over a sheet, canvas dropcloth, shower curtain or even muslin fabric to recreate it each time. Maybe one day its a playhouse and the next day its a fort.
You can find premade covers for the basic PVC playhouse structure on Etsy, just in case you can’t find the time to whip one up yourself. TIP: These premade covers are a little up there in $$ so you might want to try making one yourself from felt or flannel and hot glue.
Best of all you can make all of these PVC structures for super cheap. Hey, cheap is always in my budget.
What will you make?
I am sure you can tell by now so many things can be made using PVC piping. Let your imagination take over. If you can think it, you can probably make it. You can even get the kids involved. Have the kids put together a playhouse or help you make that soccer goal. The next day they can create a stage or a lemonade stand. The possibilities are endless. It will be a blast!
CUTTING THE PIPE: There are a couple of different PVC pipe cutters, but I use this one because it makes cutting the PVC super quick and easy.
TO GLUE OR NOT TO GLUE: For most of the structures, I would say don’t glue them together. That way you can deconstruct them and store them away. If you do want to glue something, like the gate I constructed, I use this glue because it’s:
- Clear (unlike the typical blue PVC glue)
- Low VOC (less toxic than typical PVC glue)
- No primer needed
- Water clean-up
TO PAINT OR NOT TO PAINT: This one is completely up to you. If you are going to be taking the pieces apart and reassembling them it might not be worth it to paint the piping just because it will probably scrape off during construction. But if you just can’t live with the plain white and the writing on the pipe as is, go ahead and prime and paint for the best results. I like using this spray paint for most of my projects. It comes in a lot of fun colors.
UPGRADE: As I said painting PVC can be a bit impractical, just because you will probably be disassembling the PVC structures. The good news is PVC also comes in a furniture grade in various colors. It even comes in clear!
STORAGE: You know how I said you can deconstruct the PVC structures, well it might be a good idea to store them in a canvas or netting bag to keep all those pieces together.