This week in Pre-K was all about building and construction. I recently ordered this book about building with preschoolers which had fantastic ideas for extending children's thinking in math and spatial awareness and gives ideas for open ended learning opportunities while building. You can check it out on Amazon here.
I have a huge crush on both PBL and S.T.E.M. so when I saw that we were having a construction week, I thought it would be a great opportunity to focus on engineering and design. The best part about teaching preschool is that we have so many opportunities to learn through exploration and these little people are so full of joy and enthusiasm about learning! One of the first things we did was put them on the blocks, so we had block people to build with!
We extended our block center to make it much larger so that they had space to experiment with many different kinds of building materials. We also hung pictures of different structures so the peas could look at buildings, bridges, towers and how they are designed.
We began with some very general driving questions:
We also read a lot of books about different structures. Here's a few we really enjoyed:
The peas enjoyed building towers, so we discussed some tower building strategies.
These sweet peas are so stinking smart, right off the bat they started discussing not only how tall towers are, but how people could get to the top. They also said, "Towers save space because they go up." Many of them thought of hotels and buildings that they had visited and referred to them as towers.
We learned how to safely use a chair to keep building up so we could make gigantic towers!
We discussed making a design and practiced drawing our buildings. They were more interested in drawing their buildings than drawing a plan, then building, but that's the great thing about introducing concepts, we give them time to think and process new ideas. By the end of the week, we had paper and markers in the block center for drawing designs and making "blueprints" of our buildings. We encouraged them to follow these four steps:
On Monday, EVERYONE built! I took a picture of their structures. Here's everyone's buildings:
They drew their buildings and then told me a little about how they did it. I asked them questions like, "Tell me about your building."
"How did you build it?"
"What did you do to keep it from falling down?"
The answers they gave revealed so much about their thinking. We read them the next day in circle time and discussed different strategies they used. They are hanging in our room, so you can check them out!
Next, we did a Lego challenge! Each pea got a ziplock with 15 Lego pieces and they had to build a design and tell us what it's purpose was. This was probably one of their favorite things all week, they LOVED it! Ms. Leslie wrote down what each piece was and they got to take them home!
We read several books about design and then we put out TONS of materials to build with!
Cubes, Popsicle sticks, mini red solo cups. (Inspired by Cannon Elementary's first week of school pics!)
Flat stones for building. We looked up rock towers and Inuit rock art.
What is amazing is how you can see the progression of their building skills throughout the week. The structures started pretty simple and grew to be bigger, more complex and had more detail as the week went on. I know these are a little difficult to see, but if you click on the picture, it will get larger.
Let me blow that last one up. It's pretty spectacular. Also, I loved watching as friends came by and joined in for a bit and then moved on and more friends would appear until it was this awesome masterpiece!
One book I really wanted wasn't at the library, so I found it on a video. It's Block City by Robert Louis Stevenson. It's a poem, but this video turned it into a song. We enjoyed watching it during the week.
We even had a building themed morning message! :)
And our journals had a building poem. We used colored shapes to glue a block building down in our journals.
Pre-K 2 agreed to order these S.T.E.M. kits from Lakeshore with us so we could both use them for building week! They came right in time and we were able to explore with them.
They were a little difficult, Ms. Leslie and I even had hard time with them at first, but our open ended exploration resulted in a lot of creativity!
We wrapped up the week with a Engineering group project! We divided the class in half and I got one group and Leslie got one group. Each group worked together to build a block structure, and then we tried to make a picture representation of our buildings. It took a lot of figuring out how to collaborate, and really thinking about the shape and space of our structures.
That wraps up our building week. It was exciting and busy and fun. We will continue to build over the next several weeks and extend our building PBL. We will be doing a fun 3 Little Pigs building project and then we will be thinking about building enclosures. So more to come! Ms. Leslie and I can't wait to keep exploring with your little engineers!