Our students at school have been building a number of amazing structures. Some have been creating robots, race tracks, homes, cars and cities. We have used their personal interests to drive our studies. Our reading, writing and art has been inspired by these creations and allowed us to cover curriculum areas around community, artistic choice and measurement.
In this way, play becomes and important part of learning, driving student interest, opening the door for self-driven exploration and providing opportunities for imagining a future from this point of learning. Working with open-ended building materials such as Duplo, Lego, blocks, recycled materials (boxes, containers) allows students to make creations from their imagination.
Children who work these materials develop problem-solving skills (e.g., how to I create a house?), fine motor development (e.g. hand strength and control) and an understanding of spatial relations (e.g., in front, on top, behind). When they work with others, children develop cooperative, communication and social skills. Just last week a group of students worked together to create an entire city, which spanned the width of our carpet and included a train station, houses, roads, lights, a lake and bridges.
Structure building itself can go through a series of stages, starting from simple towers and straight rows of materials, then later becoming enclosed spaces and buildings with a roof and entrance ways. Teachers see future architects, city planners, contractors, builders or creative designers at play in the classroom.
Students used their house building ideas to inspire their 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional house art. After adding colour to their houses, the children created some mixed media pieces using catalog and flyer pictures. Later some students wrote about what they saw in their houses. Practicing cutting at home with child scissors will help develop your child’s fine motor skills.
Finally, our class has been planning its own city, brainstorming all of the places they know are in them, then drawing or building things for their cities.