Building houses comes naturally to children. After using cardboard panels and cloth to build an ocean in our first Little Builders class, it was a logical extension to invite the children to use the materials to build houses and distinguish land from water in our dramatic play space.
As the children began to claim space and materials, I realized how this kind of play involves elements of the High/Scope Key Experiences for Preschoolers category called Initiative and Social Relations:
- Making and expressing choices, plans, and decisions
- Solving problems encountered in play
- Taking care of one’s own needs
- Expressing feelings in words
- Participating in group routines
- Being sensitive to the feelings, interests, and needs of others
- Building relationships with children and adults
- Creating and experiencing collaborative play
- Dealing with social conflict
The boys quickly decided that no girls could come into their house. We worked to help the girl ask questions like “When can I come visit?” and “Can you invite me to your house tomorrow?” We worked out alternatives to answers like “No” and “Never.” I smiled when I heard the children decide when it was “tomorrow” and the girl went into the house.
The girl had brought a stuffed animal to class and now she had someone to live with her in her house.
These large building materials required the children to think about how materials behave:
- Cardboard panels fall if they aren’t bent or leaning against something.
- Light things fall when you bump them.
- Wind is often created when you pass by something quickly and it falls down.
- Fabric can be light, slippery, and fall down easily.
- Clothespins and knots can hold fabric in place.
They thought about quantity and spatial relationships:
- If I put all the clothespins on one side, there are none left for the other side.
- How do I make the roof tall enough for me to stand in my house?
- Are there enough tiles for all of us to make long paths?
- Is there room for us to walk around?
Don’t wait for a rainy day to get out the blankets and build a fort. Fun and terrific learning opportunities are close at hand.