I’d found a blog post on Modern Parents, Messy Kids that showed how to build what they called “Life Size Building Blocks” – triangular trusses made from newspaper. To make the paper tubes, they recommend “Take two sheets of newspaper, lay them out flat and start rolling it from one corner.” The advantage of this method is it’s quick and easy, and you need just one little square of tape to fasten each one. Their 7 and 9 year old were able to roll these by themselves. When I made my rolls, I made 45 (enough for 15 triangles) in the time it took us to watch Kung Fu Panda. But – the ends of these are very thin – that means they’re easy to staple together, but they also are weak and floppy and can collapse in on themselves. So, my husband developed a new method. Take two pieces of paper, and off-set them a bit. Then lay those two diagonally across a third. Roll from there. This results in ends that are still thin enough to be stapled, but sturdier than the basic method.
This method was a little slower. My husband and I working together probably rolled about 45 in the time it took us to watch Little Mermaid.
In the blog post, they say their 7 and 9 year old did all the assembly. In our class, the parents did the assembly, using duct tape to fasten the joints, then the kids played in the big structure we had built.
In the book Build It: Invent New Structures and Contraptions, there are more detailed instructions on how to build a free-standing geodesic dome with newspaper trusses. It looks to be about 4 feet tall and 8 – 10 feet across.