Children have many opportunities to build with blocks, Legos, and other interesting materials. How can we give them time and materials to work on a larger scale? For my Little Builders class, I assembled a collection of cardboard panels, poles, stands, fabric, sea creatures, and shells to build an ocean. Working with panels and hanging fabric enables children to move in and out, in front of and behind the building materials, and experience these words for spatial relationships with their whole bodies. We are finding ways to represent the idea of being “in” the ocean when we stand behind the sheer blue fabric or fish behind the wavy panel.
The painted panels are easy to arrange and have details like waves, sandy paint, and real shells glued to the ocean floor. The children are very interested in using a hole punch and pipe cleaners to help secure the panels. Look at the skillful way she uses her fingers to twist the pipe cleaner!
Enriching the scene with sea creatures and plastic grass extends the children’s interest and gives them lots of ways to express their ideas. The children talk to each other about what they are doing and often have to negotiate as differences of opinions arise.