Playing is the best way to learn how the world works. Most toddlers and preschoolers aren’t ready to read (shocking, I know). They learn best through play and meaningful experiences. Which is where parents and teachers come in. That’s our job. We get to provide them with the experiences and play that teaches them about the world! There are many different concepts that children explore through play; transfer of materials, things that move, color, how things work, and building.
What I love about building is that children learn basic engineering and architecture. If you want a tall building, have a strong base. If you want a wide building, have supports throughout so it doesn’t cave in. The best way to learn these concepts is to explore and play. Added bonus: to learn these concepts, children have to fail.
As I have said in previous blogs, I set them up to fail. That may make me a bad person… But how else will they learn to be resilient? Think about a time you failed. Did you throw your hands up in the air, throw a fit, and give up? Or did you think about how to change it, try again, and succeed?
My kiddos will cry a bit when their buildings break. They are kids and that is a frustrating situation. One thing I hear them say more frequently when that happens is, “Oh man. I can build it again!” And they do! As much as it sucks to put in a lot of hard work and concentration to make something, only to have it crash down, it takes more hard work and concentration to build it again!
This scene from Meet the Robinsons is one of my favorites. Which side note- this is one of my favorite Disney movies, even though it is pretty underrated. I am pretty sure I am Lucielle (the scientist with the coffee patches) because I have a
major slight obsession with coffee.
What I love about this movie is you see Lewis overcome the frustration of failure. It is even celebrated! If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend it! If you are an avid Netflix watcher like me, you can find it on there or buy the DVD here.
Back to the point of my post. Building!
Building is essential for young development. It helps build fine motor skills, spatial awareness, and creativity/imagination. Building is somethings all of my kiddos enjoy. We have built with Magnets, Lincoln Logs, Legos, Pattern Blocks, and Bristle Blocks.
When first introducing our Picasso Tiles Magnets, the kids would stack them on top of each other instead of building on top of each piece. This was so intriguing to me because all of the children I’ve been around never did this!
They would also build flat. Each piece would be stacked horizontally instead of vertically. These two ways of exploring are easy because there isn’t much room for failure. Which isn’t a bad thing! With a little guidance and experience the children were growing with their creativity.
I pushed their building to be taller and wider.
Every time the children started building, eventually someone’s building would break. As Meet the Robinsons tells us, we keep moving forward. If it breaks, we get to build it again! I try to go about this with a positive attitude to show the kids that it is okay to fail, and it is even better to try again.
Adding the small toys to play with pushed the children to engage in dramatic play. Building houses, garages, and places for the toys to live. Even our littlest friends participate in their own version of dramatic play by placing objects in or on the magnets.
Using these extra materials on the light table have aided in the building and play the kiddos engage in. On top of being a super cool toy to use, the light table allows colors to mix and reflect on different surfaces. One of my favorite tools to add to magnets and the light table is colorful gems as they can be used in many different ways which I’ll talk about in a later post.
All of these bits of pieces in children’s play helps them learn.
As I talked about in the beginning, playing with building materials helps children learn basic engineering. The children started by exploring how the magnets work together. With a little bit of encouragement and guidance from me, their buildings evolved. We started building taller and wider. We are still working on adding supports in the middle of our buildings to help prevent the buildings form caving in.
But this is a start. I don’t push the children to build in a way I don’t think they are ready for. I also don’t try to control their play, especially when manipulatives are out. Those manipulatives aid in providing the best play possible. You can read my post about how I incorporate child-led play here.
How do you and your kiddos explore building concepts?
As I mentioned above, we use many different materials to build with. This post focused on our Picasso Tile Magnets (which we love!). Check back to see what other activities we are up to as well as more posts about Exploring Building Concepts!
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See you next time!