Thursday, February 24, 2011

Building experiences

As teachers and well educated parents, we know that when children build they are not really just playing.  When children build they are gaining spacial understanding, learning about principles of gravity, engaging creativity, and learning basic principles of, well, building.  They are not naming these principles, but rather simply learning from trial and error; they have no scholarly understanding of these things- but they have a real understanding.  Building is also often a social activity, requiring cooperation, and  resolution skills.
As teachers and parents, we know these things and so we give the children blocks to build with and look for new building experiences for them.

Here are two building experiences recently offered in our classroom:

The first idea is from Bev Bos.  A simple idea- building with hangers.  In the first trial- I hung a hanger from the ceiling and left a bin of hangers for them to use.  They got right to it, but eventually it turned into a game of swinging the hanger to knock the other hangers off.  Still a learning experience, but it made me a little nervous about some one getting hit with the hangers.  Of course no one did, we took precautions and they made a game of falling to the floor and "ducking" whenever someone swung the hangers.
None the less, I thought maybe we should come up with another option, so I took the clothes off the rack from the dress up area and put a couple hangers on the rack to create the environment.  I liked this much better.  Unfortunately, they did not.  They fiddled with it for about 20 minutes, revisited it once for 20 minutes more, but after that it sat just like this for the rest of the day.

The next idea is from Lisa Murphy.  On the table I put out an assortment of small blocks in various sizes, large and small Popsicle sticks, and shaving cream.  Without instruction they immediately started using shaving cream as a building aid.
Some of them used their fingers to spread it, some used popsicle sticks to spread it and some of them didn't spread it at all- just put some on and squished another block on top.

Some children built a structured creation.

Others leaned on the adhesive quality of the shaving cream to make a less structured creation.

Still others weren't interested in it as an adhesive- they used it to cover block structures that they built.

The kids were nuts over the blocks and shaving cream- it is definitely an activity we will repeat soon, as I have daily requests for repeats since the first!

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