construction play with preschoolers

A Lovely Day of Construction Play

When we engage in sensory play, we build the small muscles in our hands as we grip and grasp toys, we experiment with cause and effect as we figure out what happens if we throw a handful of sand at our friend or dump it on the floor, and we practice communication skills as we tell about what we’re doing.

And sometimes, the sensory toys we explore are an opportunity to work on conflict resolution as we navigate peer interactions and work on sharing a limited space with friends. When this type of thing comes up, we get to develop problem solving techniques and build social skills too.

sensory play with preschoolers

Foreman builds a house for his trucks.

When a new item is added to a sensory table, a few things can happen. We could completely lose interest, having played as much as we wanted to play in that particular material. We could be totally engaged, losing all interest in doing other activities provided. We could be slightly intrigued and spend a few minutes checking it out and then move on. Ideally, there’s a middle ground where the new addition brings just enough but not too much excitement.

sensory play for preschoolers

Rocket Constructs a Garage for the Cars

Today, as we play in our sensory sand table full of construction trucks, we notice that there are new magnet blocks added to the sand and we ask questions like: “Where did you get these blocks from?” and “How do they stick together?” As we talk with our teacher in this way, we show what we know about the world and build conversation and vocabulary skills.

dramatic play

A Lovely Day of Story Play

As part of our Library play today, we design a dramatic play game where we are superheroes traveling in a ship called the Bullet Mobile. The first stop is the zoo. Dr. Kitty and Lightning get out of the ship and visit the animals. Then they pay their entrance fee back onto the ship through the window to Professor Worm.

After the zoo, the superheros visit the North Pole and see Santa, some elves, and reindeer.

The next stop is Big Rock Candy Mountain where the friends gather candy. Lightning gathers candy with her feet making sure her tutu falls over her face just so, Dr. Kitty picks the candy with her mouth and eats it up, and Professor leans out of the ship to bring arm fulls of Chocolate Berries back inside. “Cause they’re my favorite,” he says.

The second to last stop is Antarctica, the children say they see penguins and polar bears. There is much excited announcing of which animals are seen. At the end of each leg of the trip, Dr. Kitty and Lightning pay to re-enter the ship. Professor Worm says, “ticket, ticket, ticket, ticket” as he waits for them to climb aboard.

Final stop on this epic journey is home to take a nap, the game shifts quickly to a version of the family play this group often engages in. As the friends tell about what is happening now that they are home, they say that Wonder Woman is going to have a baby (there is a Micky Mouse stuffed in her costume) and she is pretending to sleep on the ottoman.

Dramatic Play with Preschoolers

During a Library dramatic play game, the Superhero friends build a Ship and go on a trip together stopping at the zoo, the North Pole, Big Rock Candy Mountain and Antarctica.

In this way, my friends show me what they know about the world, they practice communicating their ideas to their peers and they develop storytelling skills.

building, fall, peer communication, problem solving

A Day of Building, Digging, and Big Loving

A construction site conversation about where to use the grader next.

A construction site conversation about where to use the grader next gives us a chance to work on conversational skills and social/emotional interactions.

A clever house for cars made of magnet tiles.

A clever house for cars made of magnet tiles offers time to practice problem solving, peer communication and negotiation skills.


Snippets of a Fall Day

When we spend time together at the sensory table using new scissor scoops, we work on building the small muscles in our hands, practice communication and social/emotional skills as we imagine and direct play and we develop problem solving skills. Today, our table was full of pieces of yarn and we pretended to make cupcakes with the yarn. Each of us made creative choices as we decided which colors would be the cake and which would be the icing. Dr. Kitty wanted to make a purple cupcake with pink sparkle icing. Professor Worm wanted an all color cupcake (that involved plunging hands deep into the yarn and lifting as much as possible out of the table at once). And Rocket chose to imitate his friend’s cupcake by piling the yarn high in the silicone cupcake cup, which shows that he is observing his peers’ play and applying it to his own interactions with materials.

Continuing our exploration of ways to use hammers, we explored making plant imprints today. We demonstrated that we knew how to safely use the hammers (recall), asked for the goggles before beginning our work (imitating adult roles) and discovered that it was more interesting for us to pound the leaves without the paper towels on top of the leaves (cause and effect). As we worked, we talked about smashing, we called out to our friends to “watch this” and we hypothesized about which kinds of leaves would be the most fun to smash. Once we found that the fresh leaves from the herb garden were making the best marks on our paper, some of us decided it was more fun to eat the leaves than to smash them!IMG_3017

Once we moved on to the free play portion of our morning together, one friend found an oyster shell and began to use it as a cell phone. Our teacher found it very funny that we called it a “shell phone”. We incorporated the shell phone play into the dramatic play game: Dr. Kitty (the kid in the game) used the phone to call Lightening (the mom in the game) and said, “I am ON THE PHONE, I am on a call. Come here right now, I need to talk to you, find another shell phone so we can talk for real.” While Badger walked and babbled to her grandma about what she was doing today.

IMG_3059All of the things our teacher thought we would be talking about today did not come up, and what we did talk about was infinitely more interesting and insightful. I think I hear my shell phone ringing, catch you later!