Before we look at the toys or materials associated with construction,we need to understand what construction is.
When you think about it, the first thing that comes to mind is building, however that is not where it ends.
Constructive Play is about using loose parts for the purpose of connecting, building, experimenting and manipulating materials and elements within the environment to create.
Children set goals and turn their ideas into reality through their creations.
I generally maintain a natural approach to my environmental set ups and opportunities, avoiding plastic resources in most cases, but am not opposed to the use of lego, duplo and other type connecting blocks as these are not something that usually get thrown away, and they can last a lifetime.
I will also recycle existing, unwanted plastic as additions to my natural objects.
Using Driftwood and Tree Slices for Construction
I absolutely love using driftwood and tree slices as construction materials for children to explore and create with. I have touched on this in past posts so forgive me if I repeat myself from time to time.
The beauty of natural driftwood and other types of wood is in the texture and various shapes and sizes. They also smell great, reminding us of the outdoors.
Children experience a sensory overload as they play and construct with these wonderful resources. They look inviting displayed in baskets or small wooden crates, demanding to be played with.
They also offer the opportunity for young children to explore different ways of balancing and fitting things together as the pieces are not produced in nature to be made to fit.
Cardboard and Wood Boxes
Old refrigerator boxes, packing boxes and wooden crates, make amazing construction materials for children. They are open ended resources that provide for children’s imagination and creativity.
They are turned into cars, boats, houses and forts. Children enjoy fitting themselves inside small spaces and jumping out of them to scare each other or play peek-a-boo. By doing this children are learning about their bodies and spacial awareness.
Acting, role and fantasy play can be nurtured through adding props such as art materials, old sheets and fabric, and dress ups/costumes.
Children love to use pretend play to express themselves and create familiar characters. They use language and negotiation skills as they decide who will be which character.
Using boxes in these ways also offers the opportunity to be artistic through decorating, painting and drawing.
Wooden Blocks and Lego
Wooden blocks are great for stacking and building wonderful creations, that also cause great delight in infants and toddlers play, when they fall and crash to the floor. Sometimes they will rebuild their towers or buildings several times just to see the same outcome over and over.
This is all part of some really important learning and development at this age of a child’s life.
They are beginning to understand through repetitive behaviour that the outcome is the same each time.
Things fall down, not up (gravity), and it is still funny each time they do it.
Duplo/Lego is where the connecting comes in and children are able to become more expressive through their creations and build complexity into their play. It is good for developing those fime motor skills and hand eye coordination.
Children practice working cooperatively, and vocalising their actions, movements, plans and thoughts work as they work alongside each other sharing their ideas.
Sand, Mud, Clay and Water
Building sandcastles and sculpting from sand, mud and clay is another form of construction or manipulation. Young children begin to develop some incredible problem solving abilities, alone, and in groups by posing questions and overcoming obstacles.
Things like using water to help bind the sand to hold it in place. simple to us adults but for many children this is a new discovery and one of those “wow moments”.
A common occurrence in the sandpit is using water to create rivers, channels and watching the flow of water. Watching the water disappear continually and wondering where it is going.
Children start developing their own theories and making predictions. These are all early science and mathematical concepts that children are using.
Benefits of construction play for kids
This type of play is important for children’s learning during the early years. As seen above, early mathematical and science concepts are being used and developed through this type of play.
Self expression and problem solving is also evident along with things like social competence through negotiating and discussion.
Creativity and imagination are being nurtured and the ability to plan, set goals and share ideas are all highlighted through this area of play.
There is so much going on for children that is supporting physical and cognitive development and the beauty is that most of these experiences can be provided through little or no cost except for time.
Construction for kids is not just something to keep them entertained, but has many levels of valuable learning and developmental benefits.
Now that you can see the tremendous benefits for children (and your budget) for constructive play, what do you already have at your disposal that you could use?
Drop me a line if you would like to see more posts like this and enjoy your constructive play.
Have a wonderful day!