Construction play involves manipulating one or multiple elements of the play environment to construct something new. This may involve all sorts of construction methods – stacking, assembling, disassembling, sorting or moulding, to name a few.
Construction play develops all types of skills and behaviours;
- The physical skills necessary to manipulate and control the chosen toy or material
- Problem solving skills
- The ability to plan the use of materials to see a design idea become a reality
- The ability to test ideas
- Perseverance in the face of construction challenges
- When working with others, team work behaviours necessary to successfully and collaboratively complete a task together
Most commonly when we think of construction play, we think of building blocks or other commercial construction sets but construction play also includes;
- Putting together a toy train track
- Building a blanket fort
- Creating box constructions with recycled materials
- A pull apart activity table
- Building sand castles
- Making with playdough
Here are some simple ways to extend your child’s construction play experiences;
- Add a range of open ended materials to your child’s block play (or other construction sets) – pieces of vinyl, pieces of fabric, balls of wool, small tiles, shells, bottle tops, lengths of ribbon, planks of wood, stones.
- Add creative materials when constructing with boxes and other recycled materials – popsticks, buttons, googly eyes, string, sequins, felt tipped pens, tape, stapler, cotton wool, paint.
- Adding open ended materials to playdough play – matchsticks, popsticks, patty pans, lengths of curling ribbon, googly eyes, buttons, sequins.
- Teach preschoolers and primary school aged children to finger knit.
- Buy a bag of wood off cuts and some strong glue as an introduction to woodworking. Over time, add a small handsaw, nails and child sized hammer.
- Build cubbies from sheets, chairs, milk crates, large boxes, paint, hay bales, tyres, lengths of bamboo or dowel.
- Set preschool aged children ‘tasks’ which require them to work together to develop co-operative and language skills.
What constructive play experiences do your children enjoy? Is there a new way of playing constructively which you would like to try?