WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO PLAY CONSTRUCTION?
There are tons of articles on the benefits of playing construction. I think that, in general, we all know that playing with blocks stimulates fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, mathematical reasoning, spatial logic … Not to mention other less tangible benefits such as the stimulation of creativity and tolerance for frustration ( It’s not easy to want to build a tower and have it drop, right?).
But in addition to all these benefits, playing with blocks and constructions is an incredible experiential learning . Through direct manipulation of the pieces, children learn about perspective, angles, and shapes . Through trial and error they check what fits, what doesn’t … and over time that process that is done with the hands and through direct manipulation happens at the mental level , in the internal simulator offered by the brain.
However, on many occasions we observe that our little ones have no interest in this game. And in a way it is normal. Each child has his own interests. Some from very young put piece after piece to raise a very high tower, others prefer to run and jump without stopping, others paint, or read, or dress up.
But although I agree that each child has their own concerns and that they must be respected and supported … I also believe that playing with blocks and constructions has great benefits for the little ones and that it is worth promoting this game.
So, based on that idea, I began to think, read and investigate how I could enhance the construction game and I realized that I had a limited vision of the subject. When I thought of “blocks or constructions” a child sitting on the ground directly came to mind, lifting piece after piece or assembling them in one way or another. But building is much more than that, it can be built with a clear and concrete purpose to increase the possibilities of another game, it can be built to develop a story, to try to make a building similar to one already seen, etc.
With this broader look at the activity of building we can promote this game through different proposals, such as the ones that I will now tell you about.
9 IDEAS TO ENCOURAGE THE CONSTRUCTION GAME
1. Bringing figures of animals, trees or dolls to the place of the constructions or game.
Bring together figures of animals, trees, dolls, etc. The construction area can encourage the creation of “landscapes” and “concrete scenarios, thus developing the imagination and creativity of the little ones.
In this way, it is not simply a matter of building to be built, but that children have a goal. Create a landscape in which a specific “adventure” will take place.
I would recommend bringing materials that are of interest to children, as the objective is to encourage them to build whatever they need to continue with the stories they are creating.
For example, the little one loves music and when he does not set up a life-size stage to act he creates miniature ones so that the dolls continue to give free rein to their passion.
- Large and accessible space
A very basic question … but which at the same time is not always the case is that children have adequate space to build. The more space… the bigger works can be done .
And, in addition, the space has to be accessible and suggestive . Before at home we had the shelf with the materials a bit far from the area where he always plays, which is the carpet. I realized that didn’t make any sense so I dug up a lot of options to be able to have the materials in place where you can actually build.
I have to say that the aesthetics of the room … sometimes it is harmed, hahaha. Well, place a shelf at one end of the carpet, right in front of the window … But the truth is that given the great change that his game gave, it was worth it.
- Board to build
Adding a board on which to build is an excellent idea because it provides greater stability to constructions (in case they generally play on the carpet or more uneven floors) and at the same time offer a concrete and inspiring framework. It is as if with a more delimited space they could focus more, without overflowing.
Still … at home I see both. Constructions in a big way, totally overflowing from the table, and others more contained. Give it a try, see what happens.
We have a simple wooden board, you can see it in several photographs in this article. At school or if you have space at home you can put a raised structure, like the one in the image.
- Provide diversity of horizontal and vertical materials
The greater the diversity of materials, the more and the better it can be built. In my opinion, most building block sets are sorely lacking in large, flat pieces. In general, they tend to be more or less elongated pieces, even square or cylindrical, but there are no large flat bases that go so well to create flats, houses, parking lots, etc.
That is why I suggest that you have a plurality of materials to build and that they be of both types, horizontal and vertical.
Horizontal: I mean wider bases such as wooden boards, cork placemats …
Vertical: normal blocks, cylinders, small wooden spools …
I recently discovered a building set that I love because it contains both types of parts. It is the first that I see so complete: it has a lot of vertical logs to pull up the constructions and flat wooden bases to create the floors. In addition, some of those flat bases have an indentation that can serve as a window, door, bridge … Whatever the child’s imagination!
These are echo blocks from here , from Jugaia, and you can find them with or without bark . Ours are the ones in the photograph below, without bark, and the truth is that they have an incredible touch.
Another great material to add to the construction zone is Grimms semicircles . They are flat bases that fit perfectly with the famous rainbow and that allow you to create “houses”, play structures … And it is not necessary to have the rainbow, it is not that it is a pack that must go together, those semicircles are great for combine with any type of building blocks you have. They allow you to make houses and games like these that you will see in the images. And here he uses them as caps. He usually puts dolls and things inside. He closes them, puts them on top …
We have the flat bases in natural color , from Jugaia, because they seem more combinable with everything but you can also find them in colors in this link . And in this other link you can find more interesting construction games , for different ages.
- Add fabrics
The fabrics always give a lot of play. We have a box dedicated to fabrics. There are large ones, in case you want to make a construction with the fabric itself (with a sheet for example) and then we have many other small ones, which have infinite uses: from selling the fabrics properly to decorating buildings and created landscapes.
A blue fabric is great for running a river under a bridge… a flowered fabric is great for making the garden on the ground floor…
So that the fabric does not fray, you can hem or use special scissors. I’ve gotten my mother’s patchwork scissors, which cut in a zigzag, so that the fabric doesn’t shed very long threads. In the image on the right you can see how the fabric is cut like this. 6. Be close
Being around while they build, supporting their constructions, talking and accompanying them when they have some objective in mind that they cannot achieve, will help them in their creations, with all the benefits that this implies. This does not mean, at all, that the adult builds and the child watches. The child is always the protagonist of the game.
Nor does it mean that you always have to be stuck there when they build. But we are talking about encouraging them to play constructions when they do not have excessive interest in it and being close, then, is a plus.
- Add loose parts that are in line with small interests
Although small parts are not used for building in the strict sense … they are very useful for decorating buildings, adding details and continuing to give life to the different stories that may arise.
Stones, colored gems, sticks, wood, etc. they will decorate the buildings of the little ones wonderfully.
In the image you can see how the little one puts little pieces of wood around the perimeter of the wood. It is something that he loves, delimiting the things he builds with little wood or pebbles.
- Combine storytelling with creating scenarios.
We can explain stories to children by preparing a scenario, in which we have made some construction (related to the story of course). In this way we show some usefulness in the construction without doing it when they play. A way of suggesting and opening the mind to new constructive possibilities in a non-directive way.
The children arrive at the place and see a created “stage”, in which a story is later developed. The constructions we have made can later inspire new stories or constructions.
- Allow buildings to sit together for a while, rather than picking up at the end of the afternoon.
This is something that at home we already respect intuitively, since the little one always builds with a clear intention of creating a certain scenario and returns to it again and again for their games. To disassemble his creation at the end of the afternoon … I think he would have stopped his desire to build and he would have asked me to buy a finished toy, to always have that structure available.
Let me explain, imagine that your little one does not have a dollhouse but creates it for himself. If at the end of the game we always ask you to disassemble it … It is more likely that you will ask to be given a little house, because yours is always “destroyed”, can I explain myself? But it has much more value to build your own, right?
In addition, allowing the created structure to remain standing for a few days is also an incentive to return to it and continue building.
Last year, visiting a living education school in Barcelona, I was very pleasantly surprised to see on the ground constructions made by children on which you could see signs like this one “Do not touch or destroy, J. and J. Ni las marbles ! ”. Isn’t it wonderful?
And so far all the ideas that we have tried and that have really worked for us to stimulate and encourage children to play with blocks and constructions. The truth is that the little one in question made a spectacular change. Undoubtedly, age influences… and as the possibilities of his game (and constructions) grow, they broaden, but do not doubt that a well-prepared environment is always a powerful stimulus.
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